Talking Point - by Ron Harris

Ron Harris'Picture by Lindsay Addison
Ron Harris'Picture by Lindsay Addison
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Forget JR - Who shot Wullie?

HIS face suddenly contorted intae an ugly mask o’ sheer crabbitness.

“Are you ca’ing me a Nazi?” he exploded.

This no’ being a question asked every day in the wee Lanark howf we were in, its other occupants shut up and started paying close attention tae us.

Sensing a size ten boot was aboot tae make violent contact wae mah ribs, ah hastily clarified mah previous statement.

“Naw! Ah DIDNAE say you were a Nazi, you numptie. ALL ah said was that you look awfy like a fella who used tae play Nazis in the auld films.”

This calmed him doon a bit but not much, inquiring whit actor ah was referring tae, threatening tae melt me if ah said Boris Karloff. Ah assured him it wisnae him.

“Weel, who is he then, this actor who’s mah spit?” he pressed.

This was wan o’ yon awkward moments when remembering somewan’s name is the absolute crux o’ a conversation and it just disnae come tae you. It used tae happen tae me all the time at church altars during wedding services until ah got auld and finally settled doon.

“Ach; you’d know him right away if you could see him. Handsome guy (ah diplomatically mentioned quickly), blondish hair, trim, foreign name; always played the German POW camp commandant telling Kenneth More and Jack Hawkins that for zem der var vos over. He was in EVERY auld war movie.”

Wan o’ those who’d started clocking the conversation helpfully suggested: “Always playing Nazis in the black and white films? Foreign name? Is it Erich von Stroheim yir thinking aboot?”

His pal dismissed this: “Naw. He played the butler in Sunset Boulevard who fished William Holden oot the swimming pool efter Tullulah Bankhead shot him.”

This roused an auld New Lanarkian frae a soused slumber in the corner: “Whit’s that yir saying aboot Bankheid Terrace?”

“We’re no’ talking aboot Bankheid Terrace, ye auld eedjit. Awa’ back tae sleep,” says a third contributor, “Onyway; it wisnae Tullulah Bankhead in Sunset Boulevard; it was Gloria Swanson who plugged William Holden. Or wis it Humphrey Bogart..?”

This got another amateur film critict in oan the act: “Is it no’ Hardy Kruger you’re thinking o’?”

At this a fifth spectator waded in wae: “Awa’ and no’ geez yir %$£&*^! Gloria Swanson NEVER shot Hardy Kruger in ONY movie. Onyway, ah’m sure it was Bette Davis who did in Robert Mitchum after she caught him trying tae dae the dirties wae Yvonne de Carlo. Or wis it Joan Fontaine...?”

“Ah didnae SAY Hardy Kruger was in Sunset Boulevard; ah was talking aboot yon guy who played Nazis Ron couldnae remember...”

“ANTON DIFFRING!!!” ah bellowed at the tap o’ mah voice, the elusive name o’ mah pal’s double suddenly surfacing frae the basement o’ whit’s left o’ mah brain.

“Never mind a’ that,” broke in the barman, “It’s the Lanark Pub Quiz oan Friday night, Whit specialised subject does youse lot want?”

“The movies!” chorused mah companions as wan man.

Ah started tae gently weep intae mah pint.