Whenever an old edition of Top of The Pops comes on BBC4, people fire up their Twitter and reminisce about the acts they are seeing there. Last night, Adam and the Ants must have been on. I don’t know for sure because I wasn’t watching it but good folk were tweeting about the band and I assume that was the reason why.
Upon seeing those tweets, a random memory came into my head. I tweeted about how I went to see the film ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’ back in the day and ended up sitting beside Adam Ant at the show.
Since nothing much has happened to me this week, I thought I would type out that thought in a blank word document and then see where it took me as a prompt. At the time of my typing this line, I have no particular idea where that might be.
Let’s just see what happens.
In 1985, I had only been in London for a year. I went to the movies all the time - well once a week at least. I loved the fact that I had access to obscure, outrageous films that would simple never appear in my home town in Ireland. As well as the larger movie houses, I frequented places like the Lumiere in St. Martin’s Lane and the Curzons in Mayfair and Shaftesbury Avenue. I liked to see the films on the first day they appeared. Not the posh Thursday night premieres (if there was one) just the regular first showing on the Friday night. I remember ‘Subway’ and ‘Betty Blue’ and ‘Caravaggio’ and ‘The Cook, The Thief…’ and ‘Manon Des Sources’ and loads more.
Let me try to recall what I can from the ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’ outing. It was that first Friday showing and it was packed. I went with D from work, who was effectively my boss. Only there wasn’t that much of a restrictive hierarchy to the place we worked in. D might have attended more important meetings that I did, he may have made some bigger decisions, but we all had tea together at the break and laughed and socialised a lot so it wasn’t that odd to catch a movie in the city, after work.
Looking back, I reckon I was pretty naive then, even though I had no idea that was the case. When I think about it now, this evening, it seems to me there were things going on then – wheels with wheels – that I had no clue about at the time. This is true of many things that happened to me in my London years. I lived through things without dwelling on them too much and it only seems that they start to have some logic and coherency now, thirty years later.
Anyway, never mind about that, we went to see ‘Spider Woman’. It was coming into town with great critical reviews and William Hurt could do no wrong in my book so it was a no-brainer to go and see. I remember, particularly, the opening titles of the film. No, not so much that. I really mean the bit before the opening titles, where the cards of the production companies are projected onto the screen. I remember there was loads and loads of production company cards to get through before the movie got going. It got so that the audience started to laugh and cheer a bit with every subsequent production card that appeared. There really seemed to be that many of them. I think it’s a more normal thing now, to have lots of production and finance companies involved in the story of how a movie gets made but back then it seemed unusual.
D was on my right, still in his fine suit from work, while the seat on my left remained empty as those production cards rolled. Then someone came in and sat down. A slight dark person, my peripheral vision told me. D, who was always hugely interested in everything around him, leaned forward slightly and inspected this fellow on my left then he nudged me. I looked at him. He mouthed something without speaking. “Sorry?” He mouthed again with a modicum of volume. “Adam Ant.” I sneaked another look and, sure enough, the profile was unmistakable. It was Stuart Goddard or Adam Ant as his fans knew him best.
That’s the end of the story. Stuart and D and me watched the movie and at least two of us enjoyed it. I didn’t ask Adam Ant what he thought of it. I didn’t interact with him at all. In truth, I forgot he was there and by the time the lights came back up, he was gone. It’s not much of a story, really.
I’ve always enjoyed random near misses with celebrities though and London was great for that kind if thing. I never felt the need to engage with them or anything like that. Not much anyway.
Patricia and Una and me went to see Howard’s End in Richmond and Richard Attenborough was in the row in front.
At the Killing Fields, Mel Smith was in the seat in front, which surprised me because it was a cheap Monday night showing.
Timothy Dalton used to live in the block of flats across the road from us and he would be in the corner shop sometimes getting milk. He was James Bond at the time.
John Hurt lived down the road and I can’t tell you where my flat mate and he used to regularly run into each other, but they did.
We met Michael Crawford one evening, as he came out of the stage door after playing the Phantom of the Opera and there was nobody there to greet him. We said hello and he said hello back.
Just last week, Patricia and I went to see Bryn Terfel in the National Concert Hall and as we walked up the street to the entrance, Bryn was going in. We wished him a good show and he thanked us.
I think I like just glancing past people, almost proving to myself that they are real and just as mired in mundane daily rubbish as the rest of us all are.
I think that’s it.
Adam Ant though. Weak story though it may be… well, it just still remains a bit special. It was a time where it seemed anything could happen and often did. That chance seating arrangement seems to sum all that up now.
It was the best of times, you see. It was the worst of times.