I phoned up my wife one lunch time.
“Don’t be angry,” I paused, “but I think I’ve upset Jim Bowen.”
She is used to me doing (what she classes as) stupid things, but I could tell by her “……oh?” reaction that this took even her by surprise.
I own 80sNostalgia.com and, as I was a bit bored one night, I decided to email a few 80s celebs to see if they would take part in an online Q&A interview for my site.
Amongst other, I emailed Gordon “Krypton Factor” Burns, 80s TV writer and presenter Michael Rosen and Jim “Bullseye” Bowen. The email addresses for most stars are readily available on the internet. I’m no stalker or anything… It was only a brief email saying something along the lines of…
I’m Craig from 80sNostalgia.com, the worlds most popular 80s website.
I know you’re probably really busy, but any chance you could spare a few minutes to take part in a brief interview for 80sNostalgia? It will take no more than 5-10 mins if you do.
Thanks in advance….
So a day later I check my inbox and I have an email from Jim Bowen….
If you would like to ring me on:- 015** ****** then we could perhaps sort something out to help.
Rock ‘n’ Effing Roll!!! I was absolutely elated! THE Jim Bowen had practically agreed to an interview there and then! What a guy! I have to confess to doing a small chair-dance when I read his email.
But then it struck me……. would Jim Bowen actually be THIS casual about giving his phone number out? What if it’s just the bloke who maintains the Jim Bowen website having a laugh? What if he has no actual affiliation with Jim, and it’s just a fan site set up to say how good Jim is without any direct input from Jim whatsoever?
So I typed the phone number into Google, to see if it could tell me whose number it actually was.
The resulting page was an advert for a Taxi rank.
I didn’t bother clicking the result to open the page. I just frowned, confused. There were so many different scenarios…
1) This was a reply from the webmaster of a fan site, essentially fobbing me off.
2) The webmaster of the fan site was playing a trick on me where he asks me to phone a taxi rank and ask to speak to someone they know who is actually called “Jim Bowen”.
3) Jim Bowen actually worked in, or now owns, a taxi rank nowadays. Maybe that was where he had invested his millions
4) This was Jim Bowens phone number, but Jim Bowen himself wasn’t aware the webmaster had given it to me without permission.
5) This was the actual Jim Bowen being nice.
The most likely explanation was that this person wanted me to ring a Taxi rank and ask to speak to a Jim Bowen for a laugh. Maybe they actually have someone called Jim Bowen working there, who isn’t the real one, but a taxi driver who they often play this trick on?
So I emailed back. I wanted to include some sort of reference to being a Taxi rank, so I added a subtle reference to how taxi drivers charge for their time….
Thanks for the reply.
I have to say that I’m a little surprised. Most celebs charge for their time by the hour, but you’re the only one that I have emailed that charges by the mile.
Hats off to you though, that is one of the best replies I’ve had this week! Nice one.
Thanks anyway and take care,
The day after I had another reply…
Sorry I don’t understand the ‘charge by the mile’ notion.
I suggested that you ring me in order that perhaps I could help. No mention of charges was made so I’m completely baffled by your response.
Now I became worried. Whoever it was didn’t appreciate my “charge by the mile” taxi reference. What if this WAS Jim Bowen. What if Jim emailed back in all sincerity, offering a genuine interest in what I do, and I had just mocked him? What if Jim ACTUALLY does own a Taxi rank nowadays? What if that’s what he chose to invest in with his hard earned money from the YEARS of quality TV broadcasting? AAAAAAAARRRGGHHH!!!
I thought back to the time I accidentally set up an email auto-responder on the wrong email account, and accidentally sent automatic replies to emails from Tim Vine and Iain Lee telling them to stop emailing me, when all they were doing was replying to MY emails. DAMN email autoresponders.
So I did what most 30-odd year old adults would do. I ignored everything and hoped it would go away. I didn’t email Jim again and I was too embarassed to ring the number, in case it either was or wasn’t Jim, if that makes sense?
A couple of weeks after confessing to my wife, I told people at work. Whereas my wife was sympathetic, my work colleagues all laughed heartily.
My Boss suggested that, as I had left it a few weeks, we should try ringing the number just to see who answered. If the email was a joke, then they would have been expecting someone to call within a few days. Ringing now, weeks later, would be fine.
So we rang it.
*Ring ring*……. *ring ring*………. *click*…. and then, in the inimitable voice of Jim Bowen….. “Hello. I’m sorry I am unable to take your call at the moment. Please leave me a message or alternatively give me a call on my mobile, on 07*** ******. Thank you.”
I was stunned. I just kept thinking “WHY?!?”
Why did I think it was a taxi rank?!? Why didn’t I think of just phoning and hanging up weeks ago?
I googled the phone number from the original email. The top result was still a taxi rank directory. This time I clicked on the link and scrolled down to check that the phone number actually occurred somewhere on this page. I found the dialing code on one line with a different suffix, and the home number on one line with a different area code.
Google had suggested this taxi site, just because it had occurences of the dialing code AND the number as seperates, but not as a whole number. This may surprise you, but never before have I been so amazed at my own stupidity.
So a few weeks later, after the reality had sunk in that I really had insulted the REAL Jim Bowen, I decided to ring him and apologise. Emailing was clearly not my forte.
I rang out of the blue, on a Monday morning. I was off work for a week, and thought I’d get the week started with a good celeb apology. I rang at 9:00, not really knowing if the number he had given me was his office or his home.
A sleepy, but recognisable, Jim Bowen answered the phone.
“Hi Jim, it’s Craig from 80sNostalgia.com. You were kind enough to give me your number a few weeks ago.”
“erm…. Craig? Erm….. Hello Craig. Erm…..”
I had a genuine fear that he remembered every last detail of my stupid emails, and he was building up to a big telling-off, where he’d quite rightly shout at me for unnecessarily annoying him.
I jumped in with “You said you’d be willing to take part in an interview to go onto 80sNostalgia.com. I’m just ringing to arrange a time if possible?”
“Sorry, erm, Craig, you’ve just got me up. I think I’ve completely forgotten about this. Can you give me an hour and ring me back after 10? I’ll be more awake then.”
I agreed, thanked him profusely, hung up and did the worlds biggest, happiest sigh. It turns out that on his very first email, Jim Bowen HAD given me his home phone number. Not only that, but I now had a direct line to his bedroom. And not only THAT, he had completely forgotten about my earlier blunder.
I eventually interviewed Jim Bowen the following day at around 2:30, while sat at my own dining table, with my housephone on speakerphone, and a voice recorder recording both halves of the conversation. The interview went on for 15 mins, and after editing the entire thing is around 8 mins long.
He’s a genuinely lovely man, and I’m really sorry that I upset him ages ago (even though he doesn’t remember.)
I won’t print the interview here, as it is currently downloadable (yes, me and Jim Bowen chatting in wonderful audio!) from 80sNostalgia.com. But to answer the question you’re all thinking, yes, he does still have a bendy bully.