I ONCE had a lovely chat with former health secretary Frank Dobson in Tullivers. It's not that I make a habit of accosting MPs in health food shops, it's just that I mistakenly believed I knew him.

"Hiya," I said to the bemused bearded politician as he rifled through the nuts. "Y'alright?"

"Yes, thank you," he said with a broad smile. "How are you?"

"Oh, not bad, you know," I replied. "I could live without this rain though. It plays havoc with my hair..."

And on and on the conversation went until my two-year-old decided to offer the nice man a bite of her soggy, half-eaten biscuit.

"Thank you very much," he said, "but I've just had my lunch and I'm rather full."

Very diplomatic answer, I thought. Worthy of a politician. Like Frank Dobson. Oh heck.

Cheeks burning with embarrassment, I headed for the door with undue haste.

"Well, bye then," I shouted over my shoulder while trying to shove the buggy out into the street. "Enjoy your nuts."

Thankfully, I learned from this mistake. When I spotted TV presenter Clare Frisby in Tesco last week I was able to stop myself just in time. I was just about to slap her on the back as she sorted through her vouchers (nice to see even telly stars like a bargain) and bid her a cheery "hellooo", when I realised I didn't actually know her.

Unlike Christa Ackroyd, who has that scary head girl thing going on that makes me want to hide in a cupboard every time she pops up on TV, Clare gives off a very friendly vibe.

While I feel Christa might pinch my lunch money and make me do her homework, Clare would be a loyal chum, letting me copy her quadratic equations and borrow her clothes (nice red jacket by the way).

That's why, when I spotted her at the checkout with her dinky new baby, I felt an immediate compulsion to rush up and say hello.

Instead I had to make do with lurking at the next till, ostentatiously not looking at you-know-who and talking over-loudly to my bemused daughter about anything and everything that didn't include the words 'Clare', 'Frisby' and 'hello'.

You see, I'm not a stalker; I am an anti-stalker. I actively avoid trying to infiltrate celebrities' busy lives, but they keep cropping up and catching me out by looking like ordinary people.

They should be made to wear a sign.

DOGS may be man's best friend, but they are not mine.

I can understand why people like dogs; I just wish they could understand why I don't.

Last weekend we took the kids to Kirkstall Abbey for a picnic and a game of footie. The little one was just about to take a mad swing at the ball when two dogs came rushing at her.

These weren't dogs of the yappy, fluffy variety either; these were the kind of mutts who are all teeth and muscle. One grabbed the ball and scooted off with it and the other proceeded to rifle through our bags. Their owners, enjoying a quiet Sunday stroll by the River Aire, did nothing.

It put me in mind of the time we visited Stamford Bridge for the afternoon. No sooner had we got our football out than two gigantic dogs, approximately the size of Czech shotputters, lurched over. One grabbed the ball, immediately bursting it, and the other peed all over the buggy. Nice.

Their owners, the smallest elderly couple I have ever seen - just think of Tom Thumb's long lost grandparents and you won't be far wrong - found the whole thing deeply amusing. But then, I imagine, they didn't get out much.

Now that I come to think of it, it's not really dogs I dislike at all. It's their owners.

Updated: 09:44 Monday, June 20, 2005