Having a haircut with impressionist Rory Bremner (and Ron Dennis)…


(Picture of Rory Bremner Copyright BBC)

Wherever I am working in the world presenting, my days always start with the same routine.  06.00 my alarm goes off and at 06.02 it goes off again. Both times and despite it being necessary to wake me, it always scares me half to death for I am not by nature,  a good morning person.   By 06.20 I have finished my coffee and enjoyed a relaxed 10 minutes of watching the local BBC or BBC World news headlines depending on where I am working and then it’s into the shower, shave and the day truly begins as I get dressed with my chosen suit, shirt and accompanying accessories, all laid out, without fail, and however late my arrival, the night before.  It never matters what time my event appearance is scheduled, this is my routine that is all part of delivering the best performance I am capable of for my clients.  Call it OCD if you wish, but I’ve always been that way and strangely I find it adds greatly to my confidence going into an event.

Looking sharp and businesslike is all part of being a speaker.  You may be in relaxed dress mode, suited without tie or in formal business attire, but the important thing is that you look and feel sharp!  It was with those thoughts in mind, that yesterdays schedule also included a much needed visit to get a haircut as over the past couple of months I have been engaged in a project which has seen me looking, ‘a little more laid back than usual’, the real meaning of which was that I looked like ‘I had been dragged through a hedge backwards’, as my late Mother would have said.

So as part of yesterday’s routine before I took to the podium for a long standing client in front of some 120 of their staff in a mid afternoon slot at The Old Ship Hotel in Brighton, I had arranged an early morning trip to the barbers/hair dressers/salon or whatever it is you call them these days.

I shall show my age now and call it a ‘barbers’, which is in fact a very stylish and modern salon in the centre of Brighton on the South Coast of England and was where I was to meet Sarah who would turn me back into a more corporate looking animal for the days challenges which still lay before me.

Having arrived early (another extremely important trait of mine – I hate lateness) I was greeted by the aforementioned stylist who whilst waiting for her colleague to arrive asked me what I did for a living and the usual conversation took place about Formula 1 racing, now being a professional speaker and what the weather was going to do for the next week.

Sarah as it turns out, is an extremely knowledgeable woman when it comes to Formula 1.  It transpires that her other half is a HUGE Lewis Hamilton fan and is still getting over his move to Mercedes from McLaren (Lewis’s move that is, not our Sarah’s partner) Still with me? Good.

As we chatted another greying middle aged Gent arrived and took his seat on the other side of the salon.  Now,  I am sure we blokes are all pretty much the same in this matter, in that when someone is using razor sharp scissors, beard trimmers and cutters around your head, ears, neck and throat, the urge to turn round and chat is somewhat curtailed.

After half an hour of removing much of my greying locks and successfully making me look a little more in the mould of ‘Corporate Man’ as opposed to ‘Neanderthal Man’, Sarah offered me the mirror to see those parts a chap seldom gets to see and as I studied the customer opposite, (also may I say starting to look better for his trim too), I thought to myself “I know you from the telly”….

Know him, indeed I did and know him now I do, as it was none other than the hugely talented political impressionist, playwright and comedian, Rory Bremner.  It turns out Rory is a huge F1 fan and he also knows Ron Dennis (yes, that one of McLaren fame) quite well.  As a former McLaren employee (me, not Rory that is) and an admirer of Ron for the way in which his attention to detail is reflected in everything he does, Rory and I (we are great mates by now) are well into discussions about Ron’s career and achievements, the current state of play in Formula 1 and the latest dramas from Silverstone last weekend with the teams suffering a number of punctures in their Pirelli tyres…

Totally unexpectedly, Rory turned himself into Ron to highlight a point in our conversation and apart from being amazed at the accuracy of the voice; I was taken aback by the facial expressions and personality traits that I and many others know Ron for.  Frankly, those few seconds of Rory taking off one of Formula 1’s most successful and powerful figures took me immediately back to those heady days when on occasions I sat opposite Ron at his desk and was, (ahem), ‘given directions about my future’ or listened intently to what it was he wanted and why he wanted it done his way – it was almost like being back at McLaren.

For those of you that are familiar with Rory’s impressions you will know he is one of those talents that not only sound like the person you know or have seen, but he even looks like them as well!  At times in the past he has been more Tony Blair than Tony himself and if as a reader of my blog you are not familiar with him, do take a look on YouTube – he is a real gem. He’s worth a’ Google’ too as anyone with that skill, able to speak French, Spanish and German and also currently learning Russian in addition to his natural English (well, Scottish actually by birth) is worth looking at (to say nothing of his acting, writing and presenting skills).

His achievements are many and from my brief meeting with him, he struck me as ‘a really decent bloke’.   Having just aired an ITV series (in the UK) entitled ‘Rory Bremner’s Great British Views’, at 52 Rory is still very firmly in the public eye and on the stage.

So there you have it, my morning at the ‘barber’s with both Rory Bremner and for a few seconds, ‘Ron Dennis of McLaren’.

It was one of those chance meetings and I took the opportunity to invite Rory and his wife to the McLaren 50th reunion dinner in September – I do hope Rory, you come back to me and say yes as the thought of ‘Ron interviewing Ron’, that is if the real Ron Dennis is there, would be fun beyond words.

Rory really is worth following if you get five minutes.  A regular Twitter user, he is very much in touch with his public, and has embarked upon a serious acting career as well.  Currently in Brighton for the week (obviously), any chance you have to see this hugely talented man should be taken.

As to those few golden moments in The North Laines Hair Salon 38, Gardner Street in Brighton, thank you Rory, and it was nice speaking to you again as well Ron!   Our haircuts were very good too….

As I walked back to my hotel sporting my new look thanks to Sarah I had a more than usual spring in my step.  How nice to be in a buzzy town, on the way to ones work, be able to meet an entertainment legend and be reminded of one’s old boss in such an amazing way – oh yes, and the event in the afternoon went very well too, so thanks to my client for that as well.  What a great day….

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