Friday, 19 August 2011

When Harry Met Sally.

You may have seen the film "When Harry Met Sally" starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. Billy and Meg play the two main characters who happen to be called by coincidence Harry and Sally.  This is a romantic comedy film, with a story line that follows the lives of the two main characters. Starting from the time they first meet and a few chance encounters over the following ten years. With a sub-plot posing the question "Can men and women ever just be friends", which makes for a great  deal of funny dialog and scenes.

The film soundtrack is also very memorable and was performed by several artists including Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Harry Connick, Jr. The film score for me will always be Connick with a big band belting out the standards such as "It Had to Be You", "Where or When" and "I Could Write a Book". Which in hindsight seem quite appropriate to this story.

The movie industry it seems, can sometimes reflect real life. So today, I shall tell you about the time "When Mick Met Mags". Cue the music. Action. The movie When Harry Met Sally starts with stories told by several elderly couples about how their relationships started. So here we go as a retired couple with the "Story about our relationship and how it started".

If you have been watching Dan Cruikshank's "The Country House Revealed" and in particular the program on Wentworth Woodhouse. This was the area I spent all my time as a Dell Trotter like child just running wild.

As a youngster my formative years were spent in a small village environment. There were a few other kids around. Travel into Sheffield, Rotherham or Barnsley was the exception. So my interests developed around exploring and enjoying the local countryside. I did however have a few little tricks up my sleeve for raising funds necessary to any self respecting apple scrumper. Selling vegetables gleaned from the local farmers fields, to unsuspecting people in a nearby housing estate, was one such venture. However, my big money spinner was Keppel's Column. It was nothing to do with me, but most summer weekends I could be found administering a small charge to climb to the top. I always was a bit of an entrepreneur in spirit.

1957 was a good year for visitors, I remember the spring that year was very dry and sunny. I was doing my "personal cash flow adjustments" up at the column one day. When I was confronted by identical twin girls. The post war years meant that most of the kids that turned up did not have any money. This was one of those days, but being the very benevolent softy that I am, I let them both climb the column for free.

It was at Kepples Column, a part of the Wentworth family estate "When Mick Met Mags". The girls were Helen and Margaret (Mags) and fate had drawn us together for the first time. I was a mature ten year old and Mags was a feisty eight.

In the film, Harry Burns and Sally Albright first meet during their time at University in Chicago. Fast forward twenty years and fate drew us together again. However, this time we were both working at one of the  Universities in Sheffield. Mags was working in one department and I was working in another. We would meet up from time to time in the communal refectory in the building our two departments shared. At that time we both had ongoing relationships and families. But throughout the next twenty years of University life our friendship endured and we had the occasional encounter.

In the film, Harry and Sally have other relationships which come and go. But over time they are drawn closer together. It was the same for us, our previous relationships had drawn to a close. Once more it would seem that the hand of fate was to draw us together again. It was at the staff Christmas and New Year knees up.  (A typical boozy end of another academic year party)  Everyone is in the pub, we all have had a few beers, our inhibitions lost. When "it all started with a kiss" in a very Harry met Sally moment. Cue the hot chocolate sound track.

As individuals, Mags is feisty and fires from the hip, as for me I am very laid back, but you would not want me as an enemy. If I was to describe our relationship, "We are our own worst critics and our own best friends".

If you have not seen the film, you should. If its been a while, watch it again real soon. Those who have watched the film, seem to have their own favourite scene. For the girls the most popular is the restaurant scene where Sally demonstrates faking it! Plus the unforgettable woman customer's retort to the waiter "I'll have what she's having."

For men, there are so many to choose from. The film is full of wonderful comedic lines, my favourite Harry line is when he says to Sally on the phone. "Had my sex fantasy dream again where I'm making love, and the Olympic judges are watching. I'd nailed the compulsories, so this is it, the finals. I got a 9.8 from the Canadians, a perfect 10 from the Americans, and my mother, disguised as an East German judge, gave me a 5.6, it must have been the dismount."

This is followed by Sally recounting one of her dreams.
Sally "Well, basically it's the same dream I've been having since I was twelve."
Harry "Which is?"
Sally "Okay, there's this guy."
Harry "What does he look like?"
Sally "I don't know, he's just sort of faceless."
Harry "Faceless guy, okay."
Harry "And?"
Sally "That's it."
Harry "That's it? Some faceless guy rips off all your clothes, and that's the sex fantasy you've been having since you were twelve?"
Sally "Well sometimes I vary it a little."
Harry "Which part?"
Sally "What I'm wearing."

I love films.


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