I woke up this morning to the news that Bob Hoskins had passed away. He was one of the best actors the world has seen, full stop. Reading the tributes to him, so many loving words, such respect for the man. I am sad because he lit up the screen, leaving behind him a body of work that is simply extraordinary. Being courageous enough to pick roles in films as varied as Mona Lisa, The Cotton Club, making Super Mario Bros so your children could watch you in a film, being brave enough to test new technology in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
One of my favourite films of his, Last Orders, has a fabulous cast: Dame Helen Mirren, Sir Maurice Micklewhite, Ray Winstone (not being Ray Winstone), Tom Courtenay amongst others, yet Bob Hoskins performance of Ray holds the film together. It is worth viewing, but if you play a drinking game trying to match the amount of alcohol consumed during the day trip, you’ll pass out before the credits.
In the statement released by his family was the phrase "We ask that you respect our privacy during this time…” I hate that people in the public eye have to ask for their grief to be respected.
I hate it.
Grief is so personal, so debilitating, such a measure of how much you loved someone, that you need time to be able to ride it out and get used to that person not being physically with you. I’ve said it before the best quotation I’ve heard about grief was from HM The Queen Mother talking about her husband, King George VI, that you never get over it, you get used to living with it. I’ve been poleaxed by grief, years after the person I was reminded of passed away, but that initial period of loss is such a muddle and confusion of emotions, you need time to reflect, regroup, begin again.
People all over the world who have lost a loved one know what it is like, so I’m guessing that people in the media know what it feels like to make a cup of tea, sit down to drink it, to be found staring vacantly at a wall with the cold cup cradled in your hands, still full, hours later. Therefore, why should anyone need to ask for privacy to be respected?
Are we that far removed from empathy from our fellow man, that we can’t even sit back and think, ‘Should I go to the funeral and shove people out the way so I can get pictures of the coffin?’ I saw coverage of Peaches Geldof’s funeral online, scrolling past the picture on a news feed, then scrolling back up again in disbelief at the sheer amount of camera lenses caught in that image. What upsets me immensely in Australia is how the news crews manage to get to the scene of an accident and be able to film people being loaded into ambulances, or if we’re lucky, coroners vans. Nightly we’re regaled with people being taken out of the ambulance helicopter. If someone has been airlifted to hospital, they are proper poorly, do you think their relatives want to see that? Let alone the rest of Melbourne?
I don’t buy gossip magazines, I don’t even look at them when I wait for a doctor or osteo appointment. In fact, I’m disappointed they’re even in the waiting room if I’m honest. I skim read Google news, clicking on the odd item here and there, we listen to the radio most of the day at weekends, so any images I see from the news are in my head. It used to be important to me to be abreast of current affairs, including taking a newspaper at weekends for analysis of the week’s events and devour it from cover to cover. Aside from the toddler, have you tried reading a paper with a cat in the house? When it came to bin day and I used to recycle the paper, barely opened, I gave up buying them.
I wish we public could club together and follow paparazzi photographers around all day, every day with a herd of people interfering in their lives to see how they like it. Or we could stop reading or buying magazines – shock! Use our consumer feet to walk away from this horrendous business. It is not news. News is that a man who was being executed in an American prison was given an untested cocktail of drugs, that didn’t work, leaving him to die of a heart attack nearly an hour later after writhing in agony. News is that Russia can’t be sanctioned, because if America and the UK press too hard on them, the money that is being cleaned through the foreign exchanges supporting the western world will dry up.
Vale Bob Hoskins. I will watch Last Orders tonight, I will raise a glass to you, thanking you for the hours of pleasure that you’ve given me in the cinema and at home. I will light a candle for your family, hoping that the press do indeed leave them alone to get used to the empty space your passing has left in their lives.