"...the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom"
The Guardian is publishing a series of the greatest interviews. Lots of big names: Adolf Hitler, Malcolm X, Marilyn Monroe. I always get antsy when people start saying things like "the best X in the history of the galaxy...EVAH!". Because canons, I think, should be inherently personal and interpersonal, and should not be defined by institutions. The Guardian list, however, is just too interesting to throw the post-colonial book after. And I was blissfully surprised to find the most wonderful interview I have ever seen in my entire life on the list:
It's an interview Melvyn Bragg did with television playwright Dennis Potter, author of the Singing Detective, among other things. Potter knew during the interview that he had less than three months to live, having been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (he has named the tumor "Rupert" after Rupert Murdoch). His hands stunted by the arthritis he has suffered from for most of his life, Potter drinks liquid morphine and champagne throughout the interview while discoursing with great lucidity, erudition, depth and passion on all sorts of topics, some personal and existential, others political. The parts where the pain gets too heavy are in the interview as well, and the friendly small-talk paints a vividly human picture of Potter.
I think it is quite possibly the single most moving thing I have ever seen on television. There's something wonderful about a man with such great hopes for television as a medium making this interview one of his last acts.Below my window in Ross, when I'm working in Ross, for example, there at this season, the blossom is out in full now, there in the west early. It's a plum tree, it looks like apple blossom but it's white, and looking at it, instead of saying "Oh that's nice blossom" ... last week looking at it through the window when I'm writing, I see it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it. Things are both more trivial than they ever were, and more important than they ever were, and the difference between the trivial and the important doesn't seem to matter. But the nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous, and if people could see that, you know. There's no way of telling you; you have to experience it, but the glory of it, if you like, the comfort of it, the reassurance ... not that I'm interested in reassuring people - bugger that. The fact is, if you see the present tense, boy do you see it! And boy can you celebrate it.
I've only caught it live twice, never seen it in its full length. There's a DVD available somewhere, I think. Some selected video edits at the Guardian.
(Somebody please put this on YouTube.)