In which 2011 is the year of a thousand stars

To be printed 20/01/2011.

"Just got wished a happy new year by Billy Mitchell. 2011 will be the year of my induction into celebrity circles."

I tweeted this at 1am on New Year's Day. Clearly I had my priorities right - after singing an interpretation of auld lang sine composed entirely of the words "schmurrh durr, der dur," and avoiding the advances of the Octogenerian who claims to want a new years' cheek peck but WILL go for the lips at the last minute (I like to call him Old Man Syne), everyone knows that new year is for bettering oneself. And as everyone also knows, thanks to our culture's relentless veneration of flash in the pan notoriety, the best way to better oneself is to make friends with famous people! Hoorah!

I haven't just started, of course - encountering underwhelming celebrities has been a hobby of mine for years, but it's only now I'm going pro. It helps to be living in an area of London almost entirely populated with ageing soapstars. Minty in the corner shop, Michelle Collins in Caffe Nero, Craig Charles helping a drunk lady onto the bus. It's like C-list safari. With Billy, or Perry as I will call him once we're invited to pie and Pictionary parties at his house, we're aiming to slide gradually into a warm but casual friendship based on doing the same pub quiz and breathing the same oxygen for a significant part of the day.

It isn't borne out of a tragic urge to climb the social ladder, you understand (it might be but we'll pretend it's not). Conversely, I actually have a theory that lame celebrity encounters, administered regularly, can be good for the self esteem. It makes us feel better to know that just because someone is on Eastenders, or DIY SOS, or was once the body double for the man in The Brittas Empire, it doesn't mean they don't go to the shop and buy their own Twiglets. When you've seen Tracey Thorn from Everything but the Girl dribble a bit of beer down her chin, you get an overwhelming sense that somehow it's OK To Be You.

But I'm not just sending you off into the world, yelling "Go forth! Rub shoulders, and anything else you want to, with the famous!" Oh no. A self-bettering activity like this needs some structure, and a healthy element of competition to keep it interesting. And so, I proudly unveil the Lame to Fame points system:

2 points -

Anyone you have queued, or paid substantial amounts of money, to meet.
Anyone you have camped out behind railings to scream at for three fleeting seconds.
Anyone so famous that it won't just be your anecdote, but a large-scale anecdote covering an extensive group of people. Like if you ever witnessed Prince Charles ride a bike into the Thames, or something.
Boris Johnson*.

5 points -

Anyone famous who has a conversation longer than 30 seconds with you.
Anyone who has been in both The Bill AND one of our three major soaps (Eastenders, Corrie, Emmerdale).
Anyone famous internationally.
A member of Girls Aloud.

10 points -

Anyone who gets you excited enough to do a little squeal, but whom nobody you're with has ever heard of.
Anyone you recognise purely by voice, or isolated body part.
Any celebrity in a situation that would be considered embarrassing to a normal human. Bonus points if you actually help the celeb, like picking food off their face or pointing out the loo roll trailing from their shoe.

*Everyone has seen Boris Johnson.