It is curious how the mind works. Mentioning Gregory Peck yesterday prompted me to try and recall how many movie stars I have met in my life.
I’m actually not much of a celebrity fan, but some of the movie stars I encountered back in the day were impressive people in their own right and bring back very special memories. For example, I met Gregory Peck in the South of France, and a nicer man would be hard to encounter. However, I’m not going to give a laundry list here. I’m merely struck by the oddities of the human mind, and how one thought leads to another; or doesn’t – as the case maybe.
In my case, I suffer from a form of dyslexia so the day I recall a full shopping-list will be a remarkable one; and I have no ability to remember either phone numbers or license tags at all. On the other hand, my ability to recall the past is considerable; and if I’m doing research, I can generally recall the sense of a discussion in considerable detail – particularly if I have a prompt. It can be a note, or even a memento. Best of all, is to have a recording. There, the sound of the other person’s voice brings it all flooding back without my necessarily listening to the full recording itself.
My memory seems to need stimulus. In contrast, I know some people who rattle off the fine details of history or literature at will. I am deeply envious.
Americans are widely considered to suffer from a sort of mass amnesia – certainly as far as politics is concerned. Given the polls and actual voting patterns, that would appear to be true. In contrast, rightly or wrongly, I think a great deal about the past, both because I think context is necessary for events to make sense, and because I regard it as raw material for a series of humorous (and I hope entertaining) books I hope to write. I plan to call them Confessions Of A Book-Writing Man. So far, I have planned five – all short - but the series may stretch to a couple more. It is hard to be precise because there may be an adventure or two left in me before I slump forward onto my keyboard. What an appropriate way for a writer to go. The alternative – dying while making love – has always seemed to me to be somewhat tactless.
On the other hand, though being dead might aid structuring the project – there is a precision to dates that always impresses - it looks like impeding the actual writing. This afterlife thing does not seem to be guaranteed. Probably best to begin them sooner rather than later.
Which brings me back to movie stars. Do you remember Peter Van Eyck? He wasn’t a major star like Gregory Peck, but he was an excellent leading character actor who seemed to practically monopolize the role of the not-too-terrible German officer in war movie after war movie. The Desert Fox; The Longest Day; and The Bridge at Remagen are but three examples. He was also in The Spy Who Came In From The Cold with Richard Burton.
I mention Peter Van Eyck because we shared a girlfriend for a while and I still get a strange frisson when I see one of his movies. The lady in question – a truly delightful woman – is, I hope – still alive; and shall remain nameless.
Isn’t it strange how movies play games with one’s sense of time.