I do, like most people, enjoy the odd moment of stalking my neighbours.
Mostly it's the odd, futile, (unexpressed) burst of (mildly contained) rage at their too-close coexistence. I'd purse my lips and mutter profanities at common or garden outrages: making any noise whatsoever, for instance, or daring to express their individuality in such unacceptable ways as smiling in the street, chatting to their friends and relatives on the step, calling to a pal from a car, or lounging on the window sills naked (despite lacking any visible sign of attractiveness, clothed or not) (yes, YOU, Vincent).
However, I don't actually tail, photograph, or collect jottings on the habits of common or garden neighbours.
One tends to find this all changes when you spot someone famous has moved in nearby, though. I mean, the East End of London has had in its day plenty of infamous residents. But not so many modern day slebs have fallen for the tawdry attempts at yuppification (read as: cheap housing for not-so successful City Boys and traders). The best I could muster was that awful Scots bloke who shagged Gwyneth Paltrow in Sliding Doors (really really not worth stalking... unlikely to last more than a week on Celebdaq, if he ever made it on there in the first place) - and Graham Norton.
Poor Graham. He must wonder how many times a week one not very fit jogger can run across his drive and back. And why she's so often eating fish 'n' chips.
Eddie Izzard once popped into a corner shop in Kennington for a pint of milk and some bread, and was not so discreetly followed around by me for a good half an hour.
The British method for noticing a famous person goes something like this:
rolled, swivel eyes,You can imagine how many night shifts I've had to spend parked across his drive while trying to work out the floor plan of Graham's flat.
pointedly ignore sleb,
hiss through teeth at friend,
determinedly stare in other direction, even if sleb is trying to get your attention
(for e.g. if you are about to mow sleb down in traffic, you must maim first, and protest "oh I didn't realise it was YOU" later)
kick friend and hiss even louder "Noooooooo, don't LOOK",
stare at sleb straight in face and pretend ineffectually that you don't recognise said megastar,
stiffly attempt to face a direction 65 degrees to the right of the sleb, while never allowing eyes to leave sleb's face at any time,
if sleb moves away, then shuffle clumsily behind him/her (in much the same manner as a comedy 1960s spy dressed as a large pot plant),
once sleb is almost out of sight: jump, lunge, run, shove, clamber over any obstacle until sleb is back within sights,
return to rolled, swivel eyes and ignoring sleb stage.
So today, news breaks out that he's moving to America, where he hopes Comedy Central will appreciate his brand of humour! Camp humour in Britain is by now (and largely thanks to the massively over-exposed Graham) the exclusive preserve of bingo-loving pensioners and the Faliraki-going working classes. This applies equally to the gay audience.
Graham, current holder of last year's UK Worst Dressed Man award, will export his own personal brand of "chase me! / ooo-er, I said 'cock'... missus!" humour. He'll infest the light entertainment channels and make them his own. And at some small, oblivious level, he'll no doubt miss the shy, reserved class of well-brought up English stalker found even in the rough old East End.
Bet you Americans can hardly wait, can you?