Tuesday, 28 May 2013

I dream of genie

Last week we went off to see The Hot House...a Harold Pinter play that's enjoying a short run.  It was a bit of a last minute thing really...a friend had got a couple of tickets, but then feeling ill had offered them to us.

"It’s Christmas Day in a nameless state-run mental institution where the inmates are subjected to a tirade of mindless cruelty. A maniacal and self-obsessed leader breeds a contagion of hierarchical savagery amongst his staff, who thrive on a noxious diet of delusion and deceit.

The day got off to a lousy start - a death and a birth. Absolutely bloody scandalous! Is it too much to ask to keep the place clean?

Under a veil of devilish wit and subversive humour, Pinter’s biting political commentary on the perils of unchecked power is as vital and pertinent today as when it was written in the 50s."

It was brilliant...fast and pacey, alternating between comedy and horror, it was a great evening's entertainment. But that's not what made it such a special evening.  As we were leaving, we bumped into a friend of mine and her husband...she had been one of the runners in this year's Boston marathon...we chatted for a while before saying our goodbyes.  As we turned, there behind us was one of the actors.  Christopher Timothy.  You will probably know him best for this:

I know him for other reasons.  When I was a wee lad, I lived in a village called Hatfield Heath.  It was a surprisingly lively place...and not just because there were so many pubs.  Unlike too many villages these days, there was a real community.  Part of that community was The Heath Players...yes the village amateur dramatic group.  Grandma in Cyprus was involved, and I joined the junior section.  It was a good way to keep the young of the village out of mischief.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  My first role was the genie of the ring in the village pantomime of Aladdin.  I was painted head to toe in grey make-up.  The group, you will have guessed, was run by a young Chris Timothy...our very own celebrity...although as I had still not cracked into double (age) figures, I didn't think of him as any different from the rest of the adults.  He had a lovely wife...and as I remember it, they seemed to adopt a new child every week.  We would most regularly see him on TV when he was advertised The Sun...it all made him a bit racy.  But he was a lovely, inspiring man.  All Creatures Great and Small came a few years later.

As the years have passed, I occasionally thought it would be good to see him

So when I saw him, I turned and said "Chris.  You won't recognise me.  It's been forty years since we last met."  Naturally, as a good actor, he was not wrong footed, and we quickly got into a conversation, briefly catching up on history.  I left with a buzz, it was a stupendous evening.  Only going to show just remarkable coincidences can be...we hadn't planned to go to the play, we didn't know that we would bump into friends who would delay us just long enough to meet someone who had a significant influence on a part of my childhood.