MONOLOGUE #2 : ROGER MOORE, MARRIAGE AND VIDEOTAPE
Well, as promised here is the second monologue, plucked from the ashes of my abandoned one man show on being a stay-at-home Dad and lifetime Bond fan. This one centres on my favourite Bond, Sir Roger Moore, with a few interludes about the VCR and the woman who was daft enough to marry me.
Next Monday brings the final part, Dads' Club.
I first met my wife in the basement of the Poetry Cafe fifteen years ago. She was a super hot east asian woman with a working class East London accent, which basically ticked the only two boxes I have. She stepped up and read some absolutely filthy poems that had all the middle aged men lined up to chat to her afterwards.
A few weeks later we bumped into each other and headed off to the nearby boozer. We chatted about Hagakure, the silly book of samurai proverbs I was reading at the time, the proverbs that were used in the film Ghost Dog and were written by a samurai that had never been in a single sword fight in his life. We soon got talking about 80s action films before the conversation took a more serious turn. It was there that we cast away our early dating jitters, and found that we both converged in the acceptance of a truth that locked our lives together. We both confessed that Roger Moore was out favourite James Bond.
The first film that I wore out on VHS was The Man With The Golden Gun. It was a time when the VCR (as the yanks called it) or (as we called it) the VIDEO was was still magic. This was when people placed their VHS tapes into faux leather cases and stacked them on their living room shelves alongside unread copies of Jane Eyre and Moby Dick.
Finally, there was deliverance from regulating your life against what was on the telly. It was like stealing thunder from Mount Olympus. That said, most stayed in to tape a film rather than setting the timer, which meant sitting next to the video with your finger over the pause button making sure that you started recording at the exact right moment and were ready to press it again whenever a commercial break intruded. You never enjoyed the initial viewing because of this, you did it so that your future self would enjoy each subsequent viewing.
No-one ever bothered taping the end credits so, five seconds into the opening bars of the Star Wars theme, a static white fuzz would wash across the screen before dispersing to reveal whatever was on the tape before. If you were really lucky and your parents hadn't kept track, you'd see the static fuzz lift to reveal two people going at it.
There was that song by the Fun Loving Criminals called Barry White saved my life, but it was Roger Moore who saved mine, because I wouldn’t have, for want of a better word, Bonded with my wife if it wasn’t for him.
And I know that every married person says something like this but I trace so many good things in my life to being with her. When I started teaching, she was the one who found all the module textbooks online and bought them for me. When something opened up in my career that I didn’t think I was up to the task for, she was the one that convinced me otherwise. She was more than the Bond girl that survived to the end of the movie, more than the perpetually doe-eyed Miss Moneypenny. For me, Mrs O'Sullivan was M.
This sentiment was echoed by Roger Moore himself when he said, “The secret of a happy marriage is to always have the last word, as long as that word is always,’Yes, dear.’“
This wasn’t the only aspect of my behaviour that Sir Roger had influenced. For instance, whenever I was solicited in the seedier parts of central London, I would often adopt the mannerisms of Sir Roger in how I replied. So, when a woman approached and asked, “Would you like to meet some girls.” I would immediately reply, "That sounds delightful but I don't think the girl back home would be too happy"
For my birthday a few years ago, we went to see the man himself for one of those “Audience with….” shows where he told all the usual self deprecating yarns. We were able to get a copy of his book with an autograph plate, basically a signed sticker that had been tacked in by someone else. It was fine, but I felt I needed something more.
So, one afternoon, after I’d finished my day’s teaching, I lined up with a few hundred others at King’s Cross station. A generation of men, it really was all men, that ran from those that first watched The Saint on TV as children, to those such as myself, that saw Octopussy when it was released at the cinema. The guy waiting in front of me had already been to a few signings with Sir Roger before, he told me that there was normally time for a chinwag with the man himself, but they seemed to be rushing everyone through today. I realised that this wasn’t the first rodeo for many in this line. I resolved that once was going to be enough for me.
I got to the front and offered my hand. Roger was dressed in a blazer and slacks. His tinted glasses, dyed combover and Monaco tan added that touch of class. His wife was sat next to him with a wide, unwavering smile, perhaps compensating for the one he wasn't quite able to sustain.
He shook my hand and scribbled his name in the front of the book. I told him that one reason why the missus and I hooked up was because we were such big fans of his. I probably shouted this out like a safety instruction whilst wearing the countenance of a serial killer. He handed back the book and said, “Then I wish you all the best with your marriage.” I wasn't sure how to feel about being wished such a thing by a man with three divorces to his name.
There was certainly a weariness to him, even though he was still able to wield that famous charm. He was well into his late eighties. He looked every year he had lived and every dollar he was worth. I wondered how strange we looked to him -- a line of balding, paunchy, gammony fanboys that would never get past the portfolio stage of a James Bond casting.
As the years passed, I knew it wouldn't be long before Roger would step from the throwaway quirk of the showbiz pages to the lofty prose of the obituary column. I always assumed that, come the day, I’d shed a tear, like I would for the passing of a favourite Uncle.
The thing was that the news of Sir Roger's death came hours after the news that a young man had wheeled a suitcase into the foyer of the Manchester arena just as thousands of children and their parents were shuffling out of the Arianna Grande gig.
The weird thing was that Sir Roger’s death, which must have been devastating for his family, in the context of this atrocity, offered a moment of levity. He had lived a good, full life which included work for Unicef helping thousands of children.
I try not to take any joy in the deaths of bad people, but the death of my hero reminded me that a long life, well lived, was a good thing in this world of boundless cruelty.
For the first time that day, I smiled.