Monday, August 25, 2014

The Night I Met Sir Richard Attenborough

"Spared no expense"

Poor, dead darling Dickie. 

I met him briefly at the old Cheapside cinema in Reading one rainy Tuesday evening when I was first [ahem] courting my ex-wife. We made a point of going to the flicks every week, even when there was very little on. Cinema was on its arse back in those days, and Reading only had the two-screen cinema in Cheapside and the three-screen ABC on Friar Street to choose from - the Cemetery Junction one where I saw Diamonds are Forever on my 13th birthday (you know, Cemetery Junction as in the Ricky Gervais film) long ago leveled to become a car parts supermarket.

Dickie had been watching something quite worthy in the big screen downstairs with loads of suits and proper grown-ups with mayoral chains and the like. We were rolling out of Spaceballs, quite possibly the worst film I have ever paid to see, where we were the last two people in the screen by the time the credits rolled because we liked to get our money's worth no matter how big the turkey. Coming downstairs, we got mixed up in the crowds of dickie-bowed and be-frocked dignitaries who were at the posh screening, and it all got a bit confusing as we elbowed our way through to the street.

Thrust into the great man's presence like Indiana Jones meeting Adolf Hitler (only nicer, and less Nazi), he thanked me for supporting 'British cinema' and we went our separate ways. If only he knew what shite I had just witnessed, he would have poo-pooed me on the spot. Nice chap, and I was spared the poo-poo.

Incidentally, Attenborough made very long films - I sat through Gandhi in the cinema, and it was an incredible experience, all three hours of it. The last time I ever went to the cinema when there was an intermission was to see Cry Freedom (157 minutes) at the long-demolished ABC on Friar Street, which is now a hulking great hotel. The South African cops killed Steve Biko and a lady came round with Cornettos, and I felt a bit guilty buying one.

Oh, Dickie. How we loved you.

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