Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Glory days



We've been having a lovely time these last few evenings with a DVD of Tutti Frutti, which my daughter gave me for Christmas. Tutti Frutti was a 6-part BBC Scotland series, first broadcast in 1987, starring Robbie Coltrane and Emma Thompson. It followed the catastrophe-driven fortunes of a mediocre rock band trying to re-live the glory days they'd experienced 25 years before, playing Little Richard and similar early rock numbers round provincial Scotland. I was living in Scotland at the time, so I don't know if it was broadcast nationwide. Some of the dialogue might have been incomprehensible south of the Border.

Last night's episode was set in Buckie, a drab fishing port halfway between Inverness and Aberdeen, so unexceptional that 'I'll go to Buckie!' is sometimes heard as a substitute for other Scottish exclamations like 'Jings!' and 'Help ma boab!'. I particularly wanted to watch the Buckie episode not only because it was very funny but because a friend of my daughter claimed she was in it as an extra.

There might have been a fleeting glimpse of someone resembling her standing about gawping as Vince the bass guitarist was stretchered out of the Marine Hotel with multiple stab wounds, but I honestly didn't recognise her. Spotting extras you know can be pretty dodgy, especially if they're with you when you're watching the finished article. 'Look, there I am,' they cry, 'you can just see my elbow' and by the time you've located it the scene has moved on and you've missed a vital part of the action.

When I was a student I had a great friend, an amiable fantasist, who claimed to have been an extra in Lawrence of Arabia. He'd happened to have been in Damascus, he said, when they'd been filming some military parade, and he'd been roped in, given Arab dress and furnished with a Union Jack to wave while shouting 'Allenby el akbar' or some such thing. Well, I've seen Lawrence of Arabia at least half a dozen times and there's not the slightest glimpse of him.

While most of that student intake went on to become respectable teachers and monuments to convention, this chap, a son of Scunthorpe, was last heard of many years ago with his wife Ike (her father was an admirer of General Eisenhower) sailing yachts with dodgy cargoes about the Mediterranean. I've often tried to find him, but never more seriously than vainly invoking the 6 degrees of separation. I bet he's still telling tall stories about his glory days in the film industry.

15 comments:

Vicus Scurra said...

My friend Virgil was in at least 2 different scenes as an extra in Gandhi. He says he was in four, but he is so hideously ugly that I would have noticed him, I am sure.
I have no idea why I am telling you this.

wv. Untic. An anagram of the title of my autobiography.

Christopher said...

'Tunic' would record the years when you were short-coated?

I wonder what it's like to have friends who are ugly?

Z said...

Googling for someone I used to know, I happened upon someone who may well be her brother. I hesitated and haven't emailed. Not yet at any rate. If someone chose to lose touch (she had our address and we didn't have hers) and years have passed, it may be better to let go. There will be so many explanations to go through.

Truth is, I'm not friendly enough, I suppose. My sister is - if I tell her, she'll write at once.

Christopher said...

Not friendly enough, indeed!

The L. of A. 'extra' had various aliases, which he used as circumstances, bailiffs, husbands, examiners, ticket inspectors etc. demanded. I have indeed googled him under his real name, which wasn't an uncommon one, but there were thousands of them. I thought I was getting somewhere when one of his many aliases, Caleb Stik, gave positive results, one in the USA and the other in New Zealand, but neither sounded in the least like him and I didn't follow it up.

But you're right, friendship is a two-way thing, and - if he's still with us - he may well prefer the memory of halcyon days to the ageing actuality of today.

Dave said...

I have a video of the BBC coverage of the London marathon, the year I ran it. I'm sure my knee appears in one scene.

Rog said...

I was seen walking by the Phone Box in "Local Hero" in Pennan, on the North Aberdeenshire coast.

This was 3 years after the film came out unfortunately.

Christopher said...

Only one knee, Dave? Were you on crutches? Or dressed as Long John Silver?

Christopher said...

My, you get about, Rog. This is very significant - Pennan isn't very far from Buckie. You weren't waiting for Dave to get off the phone, were you? You'd have recognised him by his wooden leg.

I, Like The View said...

Local Hero is one of my favourite films ever

I've tried looking for someone. . .

. . .to no avail

it's a weird and levelling sensation when we believe that teh net (or whatever Dave calls it) can lead to us to anything we want to find, to discover that it can't

(word ver: brile. . . something Vicus puts on his hair, on unruly days)

Christopher said...

Oh, I: Say not the struggle naught availeth...


...did you mean when Vicus is unruly, or just his hair? Or do the two go together? Mind you, he's lucky to have any. Most of the blokes who hang about here seem a bit capillarily challenged to me.

Rog said...

Tell ILTV that I found Mrs Rine on teh Net about 12 years ago!

Christopher said...

I: Rog would like me to tell you that he found Mrs Rine on teh Net about 12 years ago.

(But I bet she found him too!)

I, Like The View said...

I'm happy for them!

(-:

(and regarding Vicus's hair on unruly days. . . I've lost that train of thought now)(it's a fleeting thing, I find)

Christopher said...

Trains of thought rarely arrive on time and never at the stated platform

(Pensées of Abbé Fausse-Maigre)

I, Like The View said...

and sometimes they become lost in the Channel Tunnel (or does blogging happen thru the ether!)

Happy New Year, Christoper

or have I wished you that already?