I get star struck, I admit it. It very rarely happens that I meet someone famous, but when it does I revert to excitable 12-year-old mode.

Many years ago I was at a computer software award function in Ireland and the well known designer John Rocha was there. I didn’t even meet him, but I was in his presence, within a couple of metres.

I was very excited. My girlfriend and my colleagues were wondering what on earth was up with me, as I pointed discreetly and mouthed the words ‘That’s John Rocha’ with a idiotic grin on my face. They didn’t get what all the fuss was about.

This is why. I’m English, from England, a country of 60 million people. Famous people are very, very thin on the ground. You occasionally see them in the street, but hardly ever, in my experience.

Ireland, on the other hand, is small, a fifteenth of the English population. Famous people are, comparatively speaking, all over the place. There are much fewer degrees of separation in Ireland. As a consequence, Irish people acknowledge – but don’t go doolally around – famous people. They leave them alone. I was walking down the main shopping street of Dublin about a year later and said to my girlfriend ‘bloody hell, that’s John Malcovich!’ rather loudly, just as he was walking past. ‘Can you say that any louder?’ was my girlfriend’s reply.

Perhaps that’s why famous people like Ireland. They are left alone – by Irish people. Bono can have a quiet drink in the back of a pub and he’ll get a few nods and ‘howyas’, but he won’t be mauled. That would only happen with foreigners like me – or ‘furners’ as we’re called in the west of Ireland.

Speaking of Bono, I heard a story about him drinking in a pub with a mate of his and he was approached by a couple of people and asked for a photo. His mate duly obliged and took the photo for them. They then left, not knowing that Bruce Springsteen was the volunteer behind the camera.

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