Saturday, October 9, 2010

Alec Guinness on David Lean's Memorial Service

by Alec Guinness

The last time I was at St. Paul's was for David Lean's memorial service, which was a big production number, with a military band outside on the steps playing 'Colonel Bogey', as used in the film of THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI. Inside it was film star studded, at least under the dome. I don't think people at the back were totally aware of what was going on or why. Compromise is my middle name so I sat myself between the two groups. Melvyn Bragg gave an admirable address, beautifully spoken; he managed to get in a snide remark of David's about me which caused a few discreet titters. The titterers were sitting, of course, directly under the Whispering Gallery. 'Titter you not!' as Frankie Howard used to say. I had to balance my thoughts as best I could, pushing aside my bad recollections of David's extreme unpleasantness in latter years but remembering the enchanting, affable, exciting man he was in the days of making GREAT EXPECTATIONS and OLIVER TWIST. He could still switch on the charm even in his last years but I had grown mistrustful of it. We each did our best, I think, to repair our damaged friendship but it didn't really work out. I needed someone with whom I could laugh (not David's strongest point) and he depended so much, it seemed to me, on sycophants. But he was marvellously generous with his riches. The car left St. Paul's behind in the failing light. I wished David eternal happiness, as I have always done since the day he died.

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