Sue Limb: My famous friends

It was just Shakespeare's way of letting me know that wed have been the best of bosom chums if only

It was just Shakespeare's way of letting me know that wed have been the best of bosom chums if only he hadnt been dead - Credit: Archant

The Queen Mother, Miriam Margolyes, Alan Yentob, Charles Dance, William Shakespeare: All would be bosom buddies with Sue... if only they knew her

It’s time I did a bit of name-dropping. I don’t like to boast, but I walked past Princess Diana once – or she walked past me – at a wedding. I didn’t faint or smile or anything, because that would have been irritating. I just pretended not to recognise her. She gave me a grateful, almost conspiratorial glance, which clearly showed she liked me much the best of all the other people she didn’t know.

On an earlier occasion I was nearly run over by the Queen Mum’s Daimler under a shadowy arch in Cambridge. She was coming to see Prince Charles, and I’d just been having tea with some friends who lived on the same staircase. I was walking home, and I turned under the arch with a flourish of my navy-blue cloak, and was confronted by a massive pair of headlamps.

I flattened myself against the wall as the huge car inched past, and despite the fact that I was alone, and dressed rather like a 19th century anarchist, she looked out and waved at me. You could tell she rather took to me, in the short time available for our heart to heart, and she gave me a rather eloquent smile, implying If only you’d marry Charles, I’m sure we’d get on famously. Unfortunately I never got round to it, and of course, I regret it now.

Of course, as I write stuff for Radio 4, I sometimes rub shoulders with thespian celebs. Miriam Margolyes has occasionally adorned my comedy series, and she even came to my humble cottage in Nailsworth where we recorded one programme, and was kind enough to use the lavatory. ‘You’ve got too much furniture in this house,’ she observed sharply, ‘and your bathroom smells.’ I was so grateful. I instantly set fire to the furniture and sold the house, to save her further inconvenience.

Years ago, I sat across the aisle from Alan Yentob on a plane, and then, earlier this summer at the Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival, I bumped into him again by the Artists’ Toilets (or, as Miriam would prefer, Lavatories). ‘We’ve got to stop meeting like this!’ I quipped, though I’m not entirely sure he heard me. But I could tell by the look on his face that he would cherish the memory of our meetings as much as I would.

And then there was my brief encounter with Charles Dance in the bookshop at Heathrow. He was browsing, and I had to push past, and he graciously gave way to me, and as I passed I glanced up to thank him, and looked right up his nostrils. And I can confirm, for any other admirers of the gentleman, that his nostrils are very distinguished and bogey-free.

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Speaking of squeezing past tall men, I was at Antigua cricket ground in a bit of a crowd, and I had to insert myself between Jonathan Agnew and Curtly Ambrose, who were chatting somewhere up in the stratosphere. I’ve had the same feeling between the pillars of Gloucester Cathedral.

But my most exciting encounter by far was the time I trod on the flagstones that Shakespeare had trodden on, 400 years ago. You can do this if you visit Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Shottery, near Stratford. I can’t claim to have seen his ghost, but I did sense a vibration, and I heard a spectral whisper, in a Brummie accent of the 1600s: “Will yow stop pinching my plots you annoying woman?” It was just his way of letting me know that we’d have been the best of bosom chums – if only he hadn’t been dead.


This article by Sue Limb is from the July 2014 issue of Cotswold Life.

For more from Sue, follow her on Twitter: @sue_limb