I'm thoroughly enjoying working my way through the back catalog of Russell Brand podcasts. The most recent one I listened to was with Adam Curtis and was as usual a fantastic exploration of really important topics.
So why do I say "My mate Russell"?
Om a beautiful sunny day in the summer we had taken our two inflatable kayaks for a trip down the Thames. Having pulled the kayaks up onto the bank for a rest, and while the girls were snoozing on a beach beside the river, I noticed someone coming towards us on a paddleboard with a large Alsatian dog sitting on the front of it. This seemed unusual enough that I thought I would take a photograph. As I did so the man on the paddleboard pulled his hoodie over his head. I found this a bit odd but didn't think anymore about it.
About half an hour later we were paddling back downriver behind some little islands along a narrow creek. Again I noticed this man on the paddleboard coming towards us but this time the dog was in the water behind him happily swimming along. Again I took my camera to take a photograph and again the man looked concerned. As I got closer I asked him "Is it okay to take a photograph?" To which he replied "I'm afraid that's private".
Only when I heard his voice did I realise that it was of course Russell Brand. Once we'd got over the initial awkwardness, presumably he thought we had deliberately gone round the back of the islands to find him not knowing that we had now idea who he was, we had a great chat about how wonderful the Thames is, how little it has changed over the centuries, and spent some time discussing Kipling's poem about the Thames, The River's Tale, which we had both read!