Friday, 8 January 2016

A television "personality"

has died. I saw the news in this morning's paper. 
It isn't something I would normally take much notice of but, when he "retired", he was often to be seen in our local shopping centre.  I  used to watch the interaction between him and the other shoppers with interest.
People knew him. It is likely that most people knew exactly who he was. Others would think he looked "familiar". 
Some people would stare. Others would pretend not to notice him. Some people would meet his eye boldly, others shyly - and some not at all.
People rarely engaged him in conversation. It was as if he was "off-limits". 
He would wander through as if he was a little lost in the real world.
The world of television is very different. In front of the cameras it is bright and often artificial. Behind the cameras it can be brutal.
This man was in "commercial" television. I don't think I ever saw him on screen. He hosted a variety of chat and game shows I never watched.
Several  years ago he happened to  stand behind me in the queue in the Post Office. I had looked around, as one does, to see who had come up behind me.
He smiled and asked, "Aren't you the one who writes the letters to the editor?"
We chatted as we waited in the long, slow line that morning. He seemed to want to talk.
Over the next few years he would stop me and talk for a bit. I had the impression he was lonely. It seemed ridiculous that this man should be lonely but I suspect he missed the intense activity of what was once his workplace. He probably didn't have the time to develop many deep friendships.
In the greengrocer yesterday one of the staff said to me, "Have you seen L... lately? He hasn't been in for a while."
I hadn't seen him since well before Christmas. The paper mentioned he had died in hospital "after a brief illness". It mentioned him leaving a wife and family.
I'm glad he had them. I just hope he wasn't as lonely as he appeared to be. 

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