Monday, May 28, 2007
My dear friend
Several years ago I started a restaurant in the theatre district of Eastbourne. There I spent several happy years entertaining the entertainers, from international celebrities to young thespians taking their first steps onto the stage. We often chatted late into the night about their films and West End shows. I wrote an article last year about the Stage Door Bistro and I would like to offer you here the closing paragraphs.
Ask any of my staff and they will tell you who the greatest star was. He wasn't a celebrity in the true sense of the word, but his almost daily presence at the Stage Door made more of an impression than all of the stars added together.
He was Professor Britten. A man of some seventy years who looked much older due to failing health. When his taxi arrived, there was a rush to be the one to help him across the pavement to our door. There he would stand for a moment, wearing a double breasted Saville Row suit, a floppy bow tie and black and white patent leather shoes. On his head a wide brimmed black Amish hat. In his hand, an ivory topped cane.
Every day he would climb onto a bar stool where he would sit and flirt with my girls!
'My dear friend' he would say as I approached. He always called me that.
Sometimes we would take him home. He lived in a small annex in his son's house where he spent his days surrounded by teetering towers of text books and piles of academic papers. His writings helped to teach the children who attended his beloved Montessori schools.
He was a Buddhist. He came to it late in life.
He died too soon - he still had so much to give.
The last thing he said to me was 'Goodbye my dear friend'.
He was buried in a cardboard coffin under a tree in a copse.
Read the complete article here