So I sit down with the wife at a café in a small seaside town called Tulum in Mexico. The café is nice and busy with a band playing local music. We sit down looking out to the street. A high globe of sun pours its heat onto planet Earth. I order a coffee and a juice.
As I look around an old wild looking American man I had said hello to earlier walks past. He is wearing short blue sport shorts and a dress suit shirt with a denim floppy cap and wispy long beard.
“Hey there he is…” he shouts as he walks on bye, shaking his fist and laughing at me.
I laugh to myself as the missus has gone to the bathroom. I shake my head thinking that this man has done some amount of drugs. As I smile and look around, I notice two tables down to my left a guy staring at the man and then back at me and then twisting his eyebrows up and giving that knowing look of “I saw that nutter and I know you saw the nutter and even interacted with him and isn’t he a funny fellah ha??”. I eyebrow back, smile and look off only to think for a second, that’s Billy Connolly.
When herself returns from el bano I draw attention to him.
“That’s him isn’t it…I’m not going crazy am I?”
She assures me I am not, that it is him and to be honest, how could you actually mistake ould Billy for anyone else? Now I have been trying to contact him for a year or two – emails, facebook, agents and all sorts but got nowhere. For those who don’t know, Billy has been sober for many moons and he is the man I want to talk to most about being sober on the globe.
So I scribble my email address and website on a bit of paper, fix my eyebrows, bush up my hair and hop over to his table where he sits with his friend.
Me – Ah howiyah lads sorry to interrupt, but my name is John and I have a website called SoberPaddy.com and I was wondering, well hang on a sec…you are Billy Connolly right, I’m not hallucinating am I?
Billy looks at his mate and they both crack a smile –
Billy – Ayeee it’s me, he answers in that slow soft spoken Scottish drawl
Me – Well, I run this website and I interview people who are sober..famous people, the more famous the better and I was wondering if you’d do an interview with me. Take half an hour and we’d just chat about booze and being sober, just get your story..
Billy – Aye sure we’re both sober, he said nodding to him and his buddy. Sober Paddy eh? Great name…a sober Irishman…aye sure I’d do an interview
Me stickly fingers were twitching with excitement.
Me – Great what about later on today?
Billy – Ahhhh, nae can do it..we’re goin’ deep sea fishing out in the Ocean fer a few days
Me – When are you going?
Billy – Right now, after this.
Me – Right now?
Billy – Ayeeeeee
Me – Fuckit….when do you get back
Billy – After the weekend
Me – Bollox – I’ll be in Cuba…
Billy – Nae bad either though eh?
We all chuckled at the hardship in our lives.
Me – It’s a pity man, it’d be great to interview ya…people need to hear from people like you about drinking. You know I’ve posted an interview you did with Parkinson about everyman having a certain amount to drink and you just drinking yours quicker than others
Billy – Oh Ayeee, that’s one of them…another time I knew I had to stop was when I was stuck in a telephone box. I was turning around inside it and could nae get out. Now I knew the one with the telephone wasn’t a door so that narrowed it down to three, but I still could nae figure it..so I had to call ma manager and he had to come down and get ma home. It’s a true story
We all laughed on this surreal side-street in Mexico. His friend asked where was I based? When I told him me and the woman were on the road shooting mini doco’s about people making a difference, Billy started chuckling.
Billy – Ayeee A friend of mine used to work in Derry with a group called MAD… Making a difference. I used to tell him he should call it MACOY, making a cunt of yourself.
We all broke our bollixes laughing at this. People were turning heads. His friend suggested we do an interview on skype and so we swapped emails I gave him the website address on the back of a napkin.
Me – It’s mad, I said, I was just thinking I needed to interview someone for the site, and then you popped up, in a small café on a side-street in a small town in Mexico. That is fucking crazy,,,but then, it turns out, I can’t interview you at all now.
Billy – Aye lad, you know what that is now
Me – No, what’s that?
Billy – that’s the devil
So we shook hands and I said I’d be in touch and I went back over to drink me cold coffee with the wife. He got up and as they walked off he gave us a smile and a wink and carried on his way.
He still hasn’t answered my emails.