The Day I Met Sean Connery by Jennifer Bassett
Everybody has a dream person in their life, someone you think is wonderful, amazing, fantastic. Maybe it’s a famous footballer, or an artist, a rock star, a scientist, an actor… You dream about meeting them, saving them from danger, even falling in love with them.
Marina has a dream person in her life, a perfect man. She never expects to meet him, or to talk to him…
Nobody believes me. Nobody. They just give me these funny looks, and say, ‘oh yeah, right, Marina’, like I’m a wee child telling lies to make herself important.
But maybe they don’t want to believe me. Maybe they just wish they were brave enough to do something like that. Like my friend Agnes, she goes crazy if you talk about Tom Cruise. Veronica’s just the same. She says her heart starts beating faster if she just thinks about Kevin Costner. She used to be crazy about some other Hollywood actor, but now she prefers older men, she says.
I agree with her. Young men are useless. There was this boy at Veronica’s party, he just stood in the hall smoking with all his stupid friends, and never danced once – not once! Older men aren’t stupid like that. OK, sometimes they’re going a bit bald, or getting a bit fat, but if you don’t mind that, they’re actually a lot more interesting.
And that’s how I feel about Sean Connery. I’ve always thought he was fantastic. My mum used to go crazy over him in all those old James Bond films, but I don’t have a problem with that. I think Sean is… well, special. I mean, he’s so much more interesting than a lot of actors. He’s got a wife who’s a famous artist, he speaks foreign languages, and… I don’t know. He’s got this deep, deep voice, and he’s funny – not in a stupid way like the boys down the road, but funny in this really quiet, clever way. Everything about him is just right – a perfect man.
So, this is what happened. I was at the BBC television building in Glasgow. They’ve got a BBC bookshop in there and I went in to buy a book for my mum’s birthday. In the hall as you go through to the bookshop there’s a big television, and I stopped to watch it because the Glasgow news was on – and I heard his name! On the news it said that Sean Connery was coming to Scotland to do something, open a new children’s hospital, something like that. And the BBC was going to film it – today!
I looked around at all the people in the hall, and they’re just standing there, looking bored – bored, and Sean Connery is going to be here in this building at two o’clock! I couldn’t believe it.
Just suppose, I thought, just suppose I’m standing here when he walks in. I decided I had to go and look at myself in a mirror, to see if my hair was standing on end, or my eyes had turned purple or something.
So I went through these doors and along a corridor, looking for the ladies’ toilet. People went past, hurrying here and there, but nobody looked at me. I found the toilet, went in, and put on some more eye-shadow. Veronica says eye-shadow makes me look like a film star, so I put on lots.
I came out and went down another corridor, saw a lift, went up to the next floor, got out, turned left, and found the BBC restaurant. It was just for the people who worked there, of course, but I went in, got a tray, and bought this really nice meal for about 5p. Fantastic food. But the coffee was awful, truly awful. I sat there for an hour, but nobody asked me who I was, or what I was doing there. People came and went with their trays – you should see what unhealthy things some of them eat! It’s not surprising that television people are all dead by the time they’re forty-three.
Anyway, I was still sitting there when four men came with their trays and sat down at the table next to me. They all had big beards and long grey hair, and they started talking about making some film or other. One of them wanted this actor, another wanted a different actor. They didn’t agree about anything, except that the coffee was awful, and that Scotland wouldn’t win the big football match on Saturday. Then one of them said something about Sean.
‘Yeah, they’ve sent a car to fetch him from his hotel, and he’ll be here in about five minutes.’
They all got up to go, and so did I. I followed the man who had talked about Sean. He went along corridors, down stairs, through doors, saying Hi to everybody he met. At last he went through these doors that said STUDIO TWO. There was a red light, and notices saying IF LIGHT IS RED, DO NOT ENTER. But he’d gone in, so I did too.
The studio was huge, with hundreds of people moving lights around, and a big blonde woman wearing headphones. I took a notebook out of my bag, and stood in a dark corner, and tried to look like an unimportant BBC person. The lights came on, went off, came on. They were showing bits of different Sean Connery films, but I couldn’t hear the words.
Anyway, I was looking at my watch, when in he came. Sean. Mr Connery. He looked great. Just everyday clothes, but they were the best. There was a little crowd of people round him, and I had this wonderful idea. Suppose I just went along at the back of the crowd…
So that’s what I did. We all went along this corridor, with Sean and a grey-haired man in front, talking about the filming. Sean was just giving one-word answers, and didn’t sound very happy. Then we came to the lift. Sean and the grey-haired man got in, but it was only a small lift and the others turned away to find the stairs. But not me. I put my foot in the lift door, smiled, and said, ‘Going up?’
Honestly, I don’t know how I did it. But there I was, standing right next to Sean Connery. He was very, very, VERY tall. I just had a few minutes to stare at the middle bits of him out of the corner of my eye, and smell his aftershave. Then the lift stopped. I stood back, meaning ‘you go first’, but he did that thing with his eyebrows that makes you go funny inside, and said, ‘Ladies first’.
How I got out of that lift, I do not know. My legs didn’t seem to belong to me, and they wouldn’t walk properly. Sean and the man went past me down the corridor, and I heard the man say something about tea and make-up. They went through a door at the end of the corridor.
I started to think, what am I doing here? What do I want? If I get to talk to him, what am I going to say? Then I had my great idea. Shortbread…
He lives in Spain now so he must really miss shortbread. I ran like crazy down the stairs to the restaurant on the first floor. I got a tray full of tea, real milk, sugar, and a plate of good Scottish-made pieces of shortbread. I carried it very slowly to the lift, went up to the fourth floor, and down the corridor. I took a deep breath, and knocked on the door.
He said, ‘Come in.’
So in I went, and he was sitting at a kind of Hollywood type table, with millions of lights round the mirror, in some very nice trousers and a white shirt, combing his moustache. Our eyes met in the mirror, and I nearly died.
He said, ‘Ah, tea.’
‘Or coffee, if you prefer,’ I said.
‘BBC coffee is always terrible,’ he said, with this wee smile, and I nodded, to show I agreed, which I did.
I poured him the tea, moved the milk and sugar closer, and pushed the plate of shortbread right under his nose.
‘Expect you’ve not had this for a wee while,’ I said. ‘Go on, put some in your pocket for later, I always get hungry when I’m trying to go to sleep and have to get a biscuit.’
I wasn’t brave enough to look at him – suppose he just disappeared, right in front of my eyes! But he laughed a bit, and I did look, and he has these amazing eyes, deep, deep eyes, and suddenly it’s like flying off the top of a mountain. I just felt a big whoosh – like: I Have Met Sean Connery and I Can Do Anything. Amazing. Unbelievable.
Anyway, that was very nearly the last word that I had with him, because right then the door opened and another tea tray appeared. No shortbread. There was this big silence when the woman carrying it saw me, and then she just smiled and opened her mouth and shut it a few times. In the end she just shook her head, like she was saying, ‘OK, you win,’ and went out of the door. I think my face showed the true story because Sean gave me a funny look. Then he poured me a cup of tea.
Anyway, I had to tell him, in the end. I just couldn’t pretend any longer, you know. But he was very nice. He didn’t shout at me, or phone for help, or lock me in a cupboard. He just looked at me, just – looked.
And then he said, ‘Why?’
And I went, ‘Why? Why, Sean? Don’t you realize by now that there are millions of women who will never meet anyone as good-looking as you, or as funny? Millions of women who have to live with boring ordinary men. You are different, special, one of a kind.’
I probably went on a bit. I told him about myself, and my last boyfriend, and how that had finished, and how I didn’t know what to do. Should I go to college, not go to college?
He raised the eyebrows like he was trying not to laugh. I didn’t mind. It was great just talking to him like a normal person. And he gave me lots of good advice, which I’m not going to tell anyone. He talked to me about sport, and what he thought about Kevin Costner. I can’t tell Veronica!
Finally, there was another knock on the door, and the grey-haired man came in, looked at me, and went ‘Aah Aah’. And that’s when I knew my time was over, so I put my hand out, and Sean stood up and shook it, and said, ‘It was nice talking to you…’ and I said ‘Marina, Marina McLoughlin, very pleasant talking to you also, Sean.’ Then he turned to the man, and said, ‘Kenneth?’, and I waved goodbye, and backed out of the door. And then I ran like crazy.
Anyway, that’s the story about how I met Sean Connery. Veronica and Agnes just say, ‘Rubbish’. I nearly phoned Michael, my ex-boyfriend, but you know, something stopped me, and I think it was that big whoosh I’d got off Sean. I thought no, I don’t have to accept less than the best. Who cares about Michael and his boring bike and his boring beer? I can do better than that.
– THE END –