One Of Those Days...
While I was “away” there was a whole lot of work to do that had faltered somewhat, to the extent that there came a day where I actually sat down and wondered whether it was worth carrying on. But then so much research had already been done, together with what was already written, that it seemed silly not to keep going. And anyway, when progress was being made it was actually good fun especially when, based on my browsing and buying history, Amazon would recommend DVDs like the double-bill of Gorilla at Large & Mystery on Monster Island. I still can’t figure out what that’s about.
At the end of last week, having seen an unexpected curio at the BFI Southbank that turned out to be a real benefit, I received a phone call that confirmed we were on for “next Thursday”. At that point I had to ask, on for what? Then early yesterday afternoon I was bundled into a cab that sped off towards Holland Park. Inside the house, the housekeeper led us to the day room. I sat down on the sofa, admiring the sculptures of King Kong grappling with the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Sinbad sword fighting with the statue of Kali, checking out the row of awards that included a BAFTA mask and Academy Award statuette. We heard the voice first, coming down the stairs. Then into the room, leaning on his cane, walked Ray Harryhausen.
He settled into his chair, his daughter brought coffee and some of her excellent home—made mince pies and we chatted and I listened to his amazing stories. For a while, when it was the two of us, somehow we went well off topic. I think it was around the time he mentioned meeting Hal Roach. The subject of Laurel and Hardy came up and I remarked that my favourite scene of theirs was the pair trying to shift a piano: Not up the flights of steps in The Music Box, but across the rope bridge in Swiss Miss where they tangle with an escaped gorilla. He chuckled at the memory then after we threw out a few more titles and memories, I looked across and Mr Harryhausen was doing Stan Laurel’s thumb trick from The Bohemian Girl. And as I started to crack up he tipped his head back and roared with laughter.