This morning I woke with a post fully formed in my mind, intending to publish it later today. This all changed, when I heard the devastating news that Alan Rickman had died.
Numerous tributes have already been paid to this incredible actor, remarking upon his distinctive voice, as well as his affability and generosity as a human being. I applaud and remember him for those things, too. But, I also recall the thrill of seeing him perform live in Hamlet, alongside Geraldine McEwan, at St George’s Hall, Liverpool, back in 1992. Despite paying a cursory trip to the loo prior to the performance, the urge to go again struck me the instant the actors came on stage. Not wishing to miss a moment of my idol — and not able to leave because the exit doors were being used by the cast to enter the stage — I had to wait through Shakespeare’s longest play for the interval. My bladder was traumatised, but it was worth it. Then a few years later in 1996, whist on holiday in Scotland with a friend and our children, we learnt that Alan Rickman was directing the film The Winter Guest in nearby Pittenweem, Fife. I was overwhelmed with excitement at the opportunity to see him again, in the flesh. However, by the time we’d organised ourselves and arrived at the location the following day, the cast had packed up, leaving only a drift of artificial snow in their wake, which was probably for the best as I would have appeared a bumbling idiot, not knowing what to say to him had we met. My friend and I managed to sneak a look at the shooting schedule — left at a local shop — and set about writing a tongue-in-cheek letter to Alan, himself, enclosing a stamped-addressed envelope and requesting an autographed photograph. The obliging shopkeeper agreed to pass this on. Unfortunately, the crew packed up and relocated, unexpectedly, the next day. I hoped it had nothing to do with my note, although I wasn’t certain then whether it had been safely received. My friend’s nine-year-old son spent the rest of the holiday in search of ‘Aaron Mitchell’, having misheard his name as we talked about him. Nearly six months went by before an envelope with familiar handwriting turned up on my mat, enclosing the requested photograph (shown in this post). That was nearly twenty years ago, and I often wonder whether he took my words in the spirit in which they were intended and had a good laugh in the pub that night. I certainly held court on the matter for some time afterwards, entertaining friends and family, who derived much amusement from the humour inspired by the event.
The relatively premature and recent deaths of Lemmy, David Bowie and Alan Rickman at the age of 69 years old (Lemmy made it to 70, by a few days) serve to remind us that no one knows what’s round the corner in life, so we should enjoy it and make the most of every day. RIP, to all! But, Alan Rickman will always hold a special place in my heart. He distracted and amused me as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves during a dark period in my life, then gave me hope of new beginnings with his sensitive portrayal of Jamie in the wonderful film Truly, Madly, Deeply. As my life was getting back on track after meeting my now husband, he was there again exhibiting his vulnerability and gullibility as Emma Thompson’s husband in Love Actually. Thank you for always being entertaining. I shall raise a glass in your honour, this evening.