Wednesday, 5 September 2007

MG and DB

Here's my good friend DB, who I inherited from the one time in my life that I was ever in a Clique. It was at St Cross College, Oxford and for some reason the cool American grad students welcomed me into their urbane little set, who would always sit at the same table for lunch and watch as the Goddess Hoku opened her mail (often actually addressed to her as that...), and have cool nicknames for some of the more distinctive dons (we had a Panzer Fuhrer, a Yoda, Obi-Wan, and a Dingleberry). I'd always kind of admired the group from afar; when I eavesdropped their conversation it sounded like the Algonquin Round Table meets the Star Wars Fan Club.
I first got an 'in' with them when I overheard Hoku talking about my beloved PJ O'Rourke, whose book "Republican Party Reptile" I owned and loved, and whose new book "Holidays in Hell" was just out. Hoku and I became life-long friends following our walk to the bookstore to each buy a copy of HIH.
The group would meet in someone's college room for video evenings to watch shows like "Sledge Hammer!" and "Rocky and Bullwinkle", which were all new to me. We'd eat pizza and play with Legos. These were the type of people I'd never come across before at Oxford - right-leaning, funny, educated, witty and cosmopolitan American liberal-arts students. I was totally smitten.
This was back when there was still an Evil Empire and we had a gazillion Soviet nukes aimed at our heads, when the GDR was still cool in a grimly-socialist-black-and-white-movie sort of way - it wasn't like being a neocon or anything. One of the group, Peter Schweizer, had spent time with Washington bigshots and had published a book entitled "Grinning with the Gipper: The Wit, Wisdom, and Wisecracks of Ronald Reagan"
But as people invariably do in Oxford, they left. Eventually only two local hangers-on were left: me and DB.
We didn't really know each other at first. The group was big enough that we'd only chatted at the periphery. When we exchanged phone numbers at the farewell party of the last of the group to leave, I wondered vaguely if we'd ever meet again.
We did though, and I'm glad because DB has been one of my best friends for years, through thick and thin. She wrote weekly limericks to cheer me up through one gloomy bit of my life, I stripped wall-paper with her when she bought a cottage that needed EVERYTHING doing. I introduced DB to the concept of Murder Mystery parties and then DB expanded and improved upon the concept until they were a thing of minor legend, at least in Hertford College MCR.
DB tempted me out for tapas, cocktails and a movie last night. We saw "The Lives Of Others", the winner of last year's Best Foreign Film Oscar. I haven't seen such a touching, beautifully constructed and performed film for a long time. Everything about the film is just brilliant.
Fundamentally it's a story of unrequited love and how a dutiful state security official metamorphoses into a Good Man when he falls in love with someone who he can never have, but who through her plight opens his eyes to the wrongdoing in his own occupation. It's a film which sticks rigidly to Robert McKee's stern advice to screenwriters that MEANING produces EMOTION. (As opposed to loud explosions and car chases...)
Great movie - thanks DB!

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