Metro 74

Richard Herring: My Tube crush on Spinal Tap star Harry Shearer

Friday 26 Jul 2013 6:00 am

For the second time this year I found myself on the Tube, next to a man who sat like he had something so big between his legs that he had no option but to annex half my seat. And who didn’t take my leg pressed against his as a sign to move. I couldn’t get another Metro column out of that, though, right?

Luckily, at the next stop a suave- looking gentleman in a panama hat boarded and made me totally forget I was thigh to thigh with an unyielding stranger. It was one of my comedy heroes, Harry Shearer. He’s in two of my top five comedies: This Is Spinal Tap and The Simpsons.

I was gobsmacked that he had appeared, partly because I had no idea he was in the UK (apparently he’s starring in Daytona at the Park Theatre), but mainly because he was travelling on the Tube. He’s in 500+ episodes of The Simpsons. He must be so rich that he could afford to buy his own Tube train and pay men to drill tunnels between the place he’s staying and anywhere that he wants to go and then travel alone in his massive underground train eating diamonds.

Or just get a taxi.

Massive respect to him for taking the underground on one of the hottest days in years.

Even more astonishing, nobody apart from me seemed to have clocked him. This is Derek Smalls, for Christ’s sake! If it had been him sitting next to me I would have understood his need to take up a seat and a half, due to the foil-wrapped courgette stuffed down his trousers.

Even if you’re not a Spinal Tap fan, you definitely know this man’s voice. He’s Mr Burns. He’s Principal Skinner. He’s Ned Flanders.

The other idiot commuters had no idea who they were casually ignoring. How astonishing that he could be that rich and successful and yet that anonymous. He might have found the perfect level of fame.

I wanted to say hello but was glued to my seat with a mixture of fear and the man next to me’s leg sweat. This was my once-in-a-lifetime chance but I didn’t want to bother Harry. Also, I would probably embarrass myself by saying: ‘Hey, I bet you haven’t sweated this much since you got trapped in those pods that time,’ then laughing way too much and then going quiet for much too long. Before adding: ‘You know, in This Is Spinal Tap.’ Before laughing, going quiet again and then saying: ‘Which you were in.’ Before laughing, going quiet again and then saying: ‘Playing bassist Derek Smalls.’ Before laughing, then going quiet and saying: ‘Did someone turn the heating up to 11? Damn I should have started with that one.’

I was so star-struck that it didn’t cross my mind to ask him to guest on my Leicester Square Theatre podcast. But that might be a good thing as it would just be 90 minutes of me reminding him of bits from Spinal Tap between awkward silences.

In hindsight I wish I’d told him how great I thought he was.

This column, it seems, has turned into an extended version of the Metro’s Rush Hour Crush feature. You: stylish, middle-aged man. Was that a zucchini in your pocket or were you just pleased to see me? Me: sweaty, stary goon with leg pushed against man next to me. We weren’t together. I was trying to make a point about personal space. Would love to meet for awkward podcast and maybe more…

How could he refuse?