Barry writes (with wonderful news) and mentions that he’d been meaning to send email, but since he gets progress updates from this site he feels like he’s already in correspondence. This goes some way towards explaining my thinning inbox these days.
Thank goodness, then, for my sister Claire, who provides the best newsclipping service imaginable. Rumblings of war with Iraq and the Bali bombing reach me through the guesthouse grapevine, but Claire knows the stuff I’m really interested in, namely C-list British ‘personalities’. Ulrika’s allegations about John Leslie! Edwina Currie and John Major. Tony’s little swimmers. And Angus Deayton fired. Crikey!
She also lets me know that Richard Harris died last week. He was from Limerick, my hometown, and even went to my school, where his picture still hangs in the Science corridoor. In Angela’s Ashes Frank McCourt disparages Crescent as a school for rich rugby-playing boys in blazers, though by my time it had gone co-ed, comprehensive, and democratic. Still, the connection was enough to start a brief friendship when I met him in London some years ago.
He used to drink at my friend Edward’s bar on the Strand in London several nights a week. (It has since been taken over by a theme pub, to the dismay of one friend who remarked ‘But it had a theme already! The theme was Drunk Old Men!’) The Savoy Tavern was next door to the Savoy Hotel, where Harris lived for many years. He and Edward became good pals, so I sidled up to him at the bar one night and muttered the one rugby cheer I could remember: ‘All the way back, Crescent’. He was delighted. Limerick rugby had no greater fan than Richard Harris.
‘My love! You’re from Limerick? And you went to Crescent? May I buy you a pint, my love? Now tell me, who won the Senior Cup this year? ‘
He was charming and still beautiful. I was thrilled when Edward told me he’d asked for me earlier this year, and we made vague plans to have drinks or dinner with him in June, when I was back in London. I wasn’t surprised when he didn’t make it, though I didn’t know how sick he was. I hope wherever he is he’s watching Munster beat the All Blacks in Thomond Park.