Another day down, another challenge completed. My task – get as close to Paul Hollywood as possible. The fact that this challenge was set while in a pub with my brother and his friend, Zoë, might explain its slightly bizarre nature. Essentially, as a baker, my brother has been asked on multiple occasions for his thoughts on Paul Hollywood, the celebrity ‘master baker’. The ladies love him (apparently) because he is on television, bakes bread and has ‘piercing blue eyes.’ When I mentioned that Paul was going to be in Manchester at the Lowry Food Festival, the challenge was hatched. I would go and I would see him in the flesh. There were additions to the challenge such as baking him a cake or throwing my underwear at him or baking my underwear and giving that to him, but I decided to keep it simple.
I managed to convince my friend Pooja to join me on my stalking mission. I said the words “nice walk along the canal” and “food” and she was in. Her dedication to the cause was impressive – she even offered to create a diversion so that I could sneak past all of Paul’s adoring fans. Finding him was difficult as there was an extreme lack of a signage and the Lowry Centre (an outlet shopping complex) and was packed full of bargain hunters on a Monday public holiday. However, after asking three people we eventually found him, hidden upstairs in a blocked off zone with a very long queue of excited fans waiting to get their books signed. He had started the book signing early and the demand was so high that they had restricted the number of people who would be allowed to meet the eyes. I could have stood in the line and hoped for the best, but I was told I wasn’t guaranteed a meeting and plus the sun was shining outside and there was food to sample. I was close enough.
So instead, thanks to the impressive digital zoom on my camera and a very steady hand, I managed to get some photos of him. If you look closely you might see those piercing blue eyes.