Oh no! Peter O'Toole has died! And I realise I loved him. It seems he died of drink at the age of 81.
I bitterly regret watching him on the stage in Jeffrey Barnard Is Unwell and spending Act II
in the bar talking to some pretty girls. Though he would have approved. One of the girls had announced that evening that Nigel Lawson had resigned. Where did twenty-five years go?
And that was ten years after I started reading Jeffrey Barnard.
If I were a girl he would have been my type. And he was older than I am now when I saw him - that cheers me up.
I remember Peter O' Toole telling Parkinson of walking through the Mexican desert drunk on tequila having 'the most profound conversation of my life with an exact replica of myself half my size'. Everyone laughed of course. How unpuritanical people were in the 1970s.
Now it would not be considered funny, I suspect, like so many other things. I disliked the 1970s at the time and still do - the Cold War, the music, the hairstyles, the suits, the dreary politics - but at least people could say most things and not be judged for it and people were not obsessed as now with money and health. They even smoked on television.
I love the scene in My Favourite Year when he is an actor swinging backwards and forwards on a cord below a balcony on which stands the snobbish father of the girl he loves. 'You know that actor who wants to marry your daughter? ' 'Yes.' 'Well he's beneath us.' 'I know he's beneath us - he's an actor.' 'No I didn't mean that.'
It seems O' Toole was in Beckett and The Lion in Winter, two great films but I grow old, I grow old - and only remember them vaguely. I probably saw those films when Harold Wilson was Prime Minister though I usually have a wonderful memory for books and films and my childhood. I remember better The Best Year of my Life, What's New Pussycat? and There's a Girl in my Soup. Even them I remember vaguely. But I remember Peter O'Toole with huge affection.
I am not a bleiever in de mortuis nil nisi bono. I attacked Senator Kennedy very fiercely when he died and been very critical of St nelson Mandela but when someone criticised O'Toole as a ghastly drunk I was furious. He is family.
He was also a hero to his valet. Hos housekeeper said of him:
"I worked for Peter for eight years as his housekeeper. He was a very eccentric man who was also very generous. He was fabulous to work with, he never stopped working and was always busy. He helped me find a flat in London, allowing me to keep the deposit he'd given me, saying that it was a house warming present; he also helped me to furnish it. While I worked with him I always referred to him as sir and never Peter. I left the the job in 1988 and that was the last time I saw him."
I like that very much, including his being called sir.