Shazia Mirza’s Weekend Column

I love the ordinary. Ordinary people, ordinary life, ordinary conversations about the price of eggs. I went to Birmingham this week to present an awards ceremony. I was talking to a woman afterwards, about how parking had been a nightmare, and that petrol was so expensive now. She said, “You’re really normal, really ordinary.” I said, “What do you mean?”

“Well, you’re a comedian,” she said. “They’re not usually normal, are they?”

It’s not as glamorous as it seems, I explained – I spend most of my time driving up the M1and sleeping in strange places. Iam actually a lorry driver who tells jokes.

I read an article recently about Diana Ross, where she confessed that she’d get her chauffeur to cruise around the Brewster projects of Detroit to remind her of who she once was and how far she’d come. She may have chauffeurs and limos, but I bet Diana secretly craves the Greyhound bus and some hash browns from Wendy’s.

While in Birmingham, I decided to visit the road I grew up on as a child. It’s still quite humdrum, but most people have double glazing now and have got rid of those net curtains that looked like your mum’s knickers.

I went to a local hairdresser to have my hair cut. There was a piece of white paper stuck to the window with Sellotape. It said, “Cut and blow dry £12.” I walked in and the woman said, “What’s your name?” I said, “Shazia” and she wrote it down in a little A4 notepad. The shop was empty; there were no magazines, no music and no till. Just two women and a pot full of old brushes.

She said, “Are you going anywhere nice tonight?” I was presenting an awards ceremony, but I said, “No. I’m just here visiting my parents.”

“What do you do?” she said.

“I’m a mother and I work at Argos,” I replied. I didn’t want her to think I’m clever or better than her. No one likes clever people, not even clever people.

“Oh yeah? The one on Corporation Street?”


“Is there a sale on there at the moment?”

“No, not yet. It starts in January,” I said.

A woman came in and sat in the next seat. “Can I have a quick trim, before I collect the kids from school? Nothing too heavy, I’ll get it done properly in a few weeks’ time. Don’t do anything drastic! I still want my husband to recognise me, even though he has pissed me off this week.”

“What’s he done?” asked the hairdresser.

“He broke the wheelie bin.”

I went to pay; she wrote in the little book £12 PAID. When I asked for a receipt, she nearly fell over. “What do you need that for? Is it OK if I write it on this bus ticket? You can use it for a ride on the 103 as well, if you like.”

There is a sense of disappointment with the ordinary.

When I met the Queen recently, we had an ordinary conversation about what she watched on TV. When I told friends about it, they seemed disappointed. Why? She was hardly going to tell me she thought Diana was a cow.

I met Brian May once after a gig. He said, “I really liked it, well done and good luck with the rest of your career.” My friend said, “Well, didn’t he say anything else?” Like what? Which MPs Freddie was getting down with?

I’m sure the ordinary are glad that the famous or celebrated are as ordinary as they themselves feel. But at the same time I don’t want to see Madonna buying broken biscuits in Lidl – that would be too disappointing.

The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except the ordinary. I would have loved it ifthe Queen had told me where she buys her knickers, or if Brian May had told me where he gets his roots done. People want to know the extraordinary, but the ordinary is the most interesting of all.