During my teenage years, Brigitte Bardot, who is 75 in a few days time, fell on me during the night, which caused me to wake with a start, as you might expect. I had a poster of her, the one below on her Harley-Davidson, on the ceiling above my head (the wall having been filled with images of other heroes and heroines, including Veruschka, the Russian model, who had posed for Nova, soaked in oil). My father used to take his friends up to the room to look at the gallery, and there would be much guffawing. They must have thought that my pictures of Eric Burdon looked a bit odd in such company. Ditto, Ho Chi Minh. As you can see, I had no original thoughts in the iconography department. From somewhere, I had also acquired a poster for Fairport Convention’s very first single (pre-Sandy Denny), ‘If I Had A Ribbon Bow’. This is of course now worth hundreds of pounds, but do I have it? Nope – it’s vanished. There are some things even a hoarder cannot hang on to.
I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen a Bardot film, apart from the ‘comedy’ western, Shalako. So I was simply conditioned into the idea that images of long-blonde-haired women were those of the most desirable women in the universe. I certainly wasn’t interested in the bike. Ideas of beauty are strange, and, to a certain extent, manufactured. However, I admit that, on the one occasion when I’ve found myself in the same room as someone famous, and who also featured on my wall – Julie Christie – it was hard to look away. It was a very polite occasion (it was a memorial celebration for the poet Roger Woddis), and the whole room was looking at Julie Christie in an I’m-not-looking-at-you way. A whole comedy sketch could have been constructed out of the lengths to which people were desperately looking somewhere vaguely elsewhere.
I love the way that BB has aged. I’m not sure about the company she keeps (cats), as I am not sure I could cope with Doris Day’s menagerie of dogs. But then, if either BB or DD popped round, I’m not sure they could cope with the topsy quantity of books and papers with which I am surrounded. Nor my addiction to ham sandwiches, which (so it would seem from the latest reports) is going to cause my untimely demise.
Still, happy birthday, Brigitte. I remember fighting with you in the dark, and the relief I felt when I realised it was only you that was glued to my face.