There’s no pattern to what I write about. You’ve probably guessed this by now. Ultimately everything is about me, things large and small that have, at some point, made an impact on me - so much so that I want to pass comment on them.
Linda Bellingham died today. I don’t know why I feel compelled to write this down but I do. I wasn’t a huge fan, didn’t follow her career, but she was always there somewhere in my mind and she definitely made me smile.
The first time she came to my notice was at the Odeon in
Oxford one rainy Tuesday
afternoon back in 1976. I was there to watch Confessions of a Driving
Instructor, a soft porn carry-on-type romp of no great consequence. Linda was
playing Mary Truscott apparently although I don’t remember much about her role,
in fact I hardly remember anything about the film, but at some point she must
have made an impression. I learnt afterwards that she used to live just up the
road from me, Aylesbury way, so she was a local girl; I may even have passed
her on the street – who knows?
Six very eventful years later I saw her again, but this time she was crumbling Oxo on the television - well not literally obviously. In 1983 I was 26 and Linda was 35, not much of an age difference at all, but she seemed to be made up to look older and her bald headed husband was positively ancient. I remember watching her unwrapping and crumbling that dark brown cube into her hotpot and thinking in a Robin Asquith type of way: ‘Cor, she’s a bit of alright.’ and then immediately regretting it. Back then the term MILF hadn’t been invented, but that’s what I saw as she juggled her Oxos.
Watching those ads through my soft focus eyes, Linda seemed to be everybody’s mum, all of my mates mums that I’d known at school only that little bit sexier and naughtier. She made me feel uncomfortable, this older woman with a young family, smiling knowingly as she savoured the aroma of the beef extract. She was the sort of woman you really fancied, but didn’t, and shouldn’t, but did, and should, and you didn’t even know why you did, or didn’t, or should, or shouldn’t, but you would.
I knew that feeling well. It was all very confusing and complicated.
If I’d been the nineteen year old youth I was back at the Odeon I could have understood it. But I wasn’t. I was a married man with children of my own and my wife at the time was around the same age as Linda. But there was something about Linda Bellingham, the way she looked, that made me feel like a fantasising teenager at a time when I was feeling very old - much, much older than my years.
Well I did warn you that it’s all about me - all very complicated and confusing, the parallels, but Linda played a part in all that in some strange way.