Having awoken at my usual ungodly hour this morning – not to tune in to live coverage of the Super Bowl but simply because I went to bed at 8.30pm last night – I dressed, made my jug of coffee and came to the computer, where Radio Five Live was awash with the ‘breaking’ news of the death of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Reports tell that the 46 year old died of a drugs overdose at his home in New York and, inevitably, Dotun Adebayo on his Up All Night stint [0100 to 0500 hours] is currently receiving incoming tributes, some more florid than others, from the great and good of the movie industry and many others who knew him on a more personal level.
I find myself thinking an inappropriate thought as I begin my latest day shift.
It occurs to me that, as we get older, there is a sliding scale by which we (and others?) can measure our position at any time on the descent into senility, as revealed by our state of ‘awareness of what is current’ in terms of those who make the headlines in celebrity, arts, entertainment, politics and sport.
It was only somewhere around the middle of last November when I registered that I had finally gone ‘off the pace’ as regards the modern world.
This watershed moment struck me like a thunderbolt on the day when I glanced down the column of ‘celebrity’ stories on the right hand of the home page of the website of the Daily Mail [a sure-fire yardstick of what’s cool and happening, for I read somewhere that it is the most popular online ‘news and current affairs’ organ in the world] and realised that I had no knowledge of who any of the celebrities featured were, or indeed what they were famous for.
Up to that point, being possessed of a bit of a butterfly mind, I had rather prided myself on my range of ephemeral and trivial general knowledge. For example, I was pretty good if, in social conversation, the subject of ‘Who is Bonking Who?’, as alleged by the British tabloids, ever arose.
This resulted less from my habit of reading them per se – I don’t have one – but my apparent possession of a natural antenna or ‘nose’ for such information. The uncharitable observer might suggest that I am prey to the syndrome whereby those ‘getting the least’ usually turn out to be those most interested in the prurient, but I couldn’t possibly comment.
All the above leads me to the confession that, although I had heard of his name – as far as I am aware – I have never witnessed an acting performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman, on film or otherwise.