Ah, the Cannes Film Festival. Thousands of celebrities, movie people and journalists crowding the French Rivera town for two weeks of promotion and adoration. And yet, despite my cynicism, it still had the power to seduce me...
Back in May 2003, the Wah and I found ourselves in the nearby city of Nice, exactly at festival time. We were only in Nice for a night, but having discovered via a short walk that the beach was somewhat pebbly and required payment (!) to flap one's flabby buttocks onto, we decided, "Bugger it. Let's go to Cannes."
And here is my shameful Cannes story.
I had brought with me on this trip a small selection of make-up - which I had only used once in eight weeks, after realising that backpacking is never an attractive pursuit no matter how much you try, so it wasn't worth the time and energy.
But as we "freshened up" back at the hotel room, the Wah became intrigued by the longer-than-usual time it was taking for me to get ready.
The reason? I was busy applying make-up.
Tragically, pathetically, my subconscious mind (quickly followed by my red-faced conscious mind) thought if I looked slightly-less-like-shit, my chances of being "discovered" on the street would improve. I mean, how many stories have you heard of famous people being found in an amusing and ironic way, plucked out of a fast-food joint or hairdressers to become the supermodel or actor de jour? (Marilyn Monroe was found in a aircraft parts factory, for Christ's sake).
Despite my bushy, fuzzy hair, and standard backpacker uniform of worn jeans and black Bonds tee, I still fell for the dream - hoping a smattering of rouge would lift me from plain old clumsy Australian to still-clumsy-yet-stunningly-beautiful-and-famous Australian.
Of course, it didn't happen. I didn't see anyone famous, just a lot of old French dudes playing boules along the foreshore. But it was nice to wander up and down taking in the atmos - pointing at big flashy displays for "Terminator 3" and "Matrix Revolutions", and taking note of the billboards advertising French films (most of which seemed to feature Gerard Depardieu. I think it must be a legal thing in France).
The only vaguely film-related person we met was on the train back to Nice. We wound up sitting opposite an English bloke who claimed to have a production company working on a Very Exciting Project: a film version of cult sci-fi comedy "Red Dwarf", complete with the original cast. Having heard rumours of such a thing for years, and having not seen any "Red Dwarf" film since, I daresay the 2003 Cannes Film Festival was about as successful for that bloke as it was for my aspirations of stardom.