My Life Flashed Before Me Part 2 by Trevor Plumbly
Back From the Jaws of Death
Avid readers of this blog will remember my brush with death which led to my hospitalisation and my urge to write a list of musical favourites. Eventually and happily, the emergency ward folk decided that the bloke with the scythe had decided to give me a miss and I was trundled, still wired and plugged, to a holding ward for ‘overnight observation’. They’re many things these emergency doctors, but gamblers they ain’t. Having sorted out my musical bucket list, there was little to do in the semi-darkness except reflect, as one is indeed entitled to do when all about you are speaking in hushed tones as if a normal voice would attract a sudden return visit from the bearded one, on my literary bucket list.
My library, I decided, should be small but span the years:
- Treasure Island. Robert Louis Stevenson. My first proper book. Pirates, buried treasure and a boy hero, it had it all, exciting and scary it was my first real experience of escapism and I loved it.
- Any of the ‘Jeeves’ series by P.G. Wodehouse. Silly plots involving equally silly and dated characters, but the books showed me the way to enjoy language and the use of words.
- Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. Charles Dickens. His best? Who knows, but any street kid that read them lived through every page.
- To Kill a Mocking Bird. Harper Lee. THE American classic. The dark side of America and my first real grasp of the impact of bigotry and intolerance.
- A City Possessed. Lynley Hood. A brilliantly researched NZ book, an important illustration that the dark side can crop up anywhere.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. J.K. Rowling. I must have been in my 50s when I read it, but like a lot of adults, I loved it. Great writing kept simple.
- The Fatal Shore. Robert Hughes. Detailing the history of British Convict deportation to Australia. A must for anyone remotely interested in life ‘down under’.
- Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy. I haven’t actually read the thing, but thumbing through it at odd times in the past, it cheered me up immensely to know that there were so many ways and means to be miserable.
Films and Other Gems
I went on to think about favourite films. I’m not much of a film goer these days so you might have to dig in the back shelves for these but they’re worth it:
- Zulu. Great British gung-ho stuff with a young Michael Caine at his best.
- Psycho. Still scary. Hitchcock at his peak.
- Twelve Angry Men. An absolute classic! Worth watching again and again.
- The Magnificent Seven. THE Cowboy movie.
To these I would add the following gems which have stood the test of time:
- Hancock’s Half Hour – The Blood Donor. Tony Hancock at his greatest.
- Peter Ustinov. Any of his monologues. Diction, timing and speech are all flawless.
- Martin Luther King. ‘I Have a Dream’. Impassioned oratory, a fabulous speech that changed a nation.
Clutching all this cultural baggage, I attempted to sleep, but the bloke in the next bed had a tendency to moan aloud and the one opposite snored loudly. Idly, I considered Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, and wondered if, despite the fact that it was published in the 18th Century, it might accept a new entry.