How to go to ground
Sol Campbell last week proved there is a simple way of buying time and escaping the media storm-troopers by bolting for Belgium rather than The Ivy
The carnival publicist Doc Crosby was a wise man and never short of home spun wisdom.
He was a former university professor of English and although he was never sober, used a tin cup as a mirror, the frazzled end of a rope as a lather brush, and a sharp edge of a glass as a razor-blade, he knew how to keep his acts out of trouble.
This colourful old rummy once said, if you are in real trouble – hide in a barrel of rattlesnakes. Risky advice one would think, but good advice is in short supply at times of brand meltdown.
When on the run from torrid tabloid revelations, the celebrity colony usually sends out flak to distract and then predictably cries foul. It is often said that it is impossible to go to ground while being pursued by the predatory media pack. However, Arsenal defender Sol Campbell provided glowing example of how to escape the Blitzkrieg of crack media storm-troopers last week.
Please respect our privacy is the sad cry while fleeing the waiting paps outside The Ivy. Observers of celebrity crisis cringe at the pathetic attempts to seek a safe bolt hole. Really, how difficult is it to disappear? Every meaningful name has got an escape plan ready to roll, as well as a mate with a Cessna.
How many times have we seen the drawn curtains and chain hooked doors of the harassed stars’ urban homes, while they are phlegmatically trying to ignore the banks of snappers laying siege to their houses, featured in OK! and Hello! in more carefree times? I remember an MP’s wife screaming through the letter box as a journalist rang the door bell: “Go away! How did you get my number? It’s ex-directory.”
But the fragile Sol demonstrated that going to ground is not biophysics. Clearly the man was sane enough to pick Belgium as the ideal place to seek shelter. Perhaps he sought the opinion of Stephen Fry. I recollect that the stressed thesp ran to Brussels following his critical mauling after his West End debut in Cell Mates in 1995.
Fry, like Campbell, ejected quickly and left friends and family to leak out scraps that suggested an imminent breakdown. Sympathy for the poor Gooner negated the Schadenfreude and rumours of malevolent weekend revelations that threatened to turn his life upside down.
He took control, evaporating and then resurfacing to show a brave face, ready to defend any slurs. The lonely Sol, training alone in the morning mists of Arsenal’s London Colney training ground painted a poignant photo opp of a man who had come to terms with his demons.
Clearly there is always an option A to buy time, which does not require paying the Priory a fistfull of cash before skulking back into the limelight. I predict a whole raft of unfashionable European destinations offering safe haven to highly strung public figures.
Who is going to follow a broken husk of a soap opera star to Luxembourg City or Ryazan, even Jogevamaa? After all, is it not a perk that tabloid hacks dream of, being sent on a celebrity stake out in the sun where the booze and ciggies are cheap and the barking news editor is a thousand miles away? I don’t think “Sorry guv. There is no mobile signal in Slovenj Gradec” has the ring of glamour to it!
Fry and Campbell have set the standard in celebrity bolt holes. Proving there is a simple way of buying a large piece of prized time and creating real distance in order to find that peace of mind, and to re-read the small print in the Faustian contract they signed with the media in happier times.