A funeral, an 'ugh' and a smile ...
Sir John Mills
Yesterday, 27th April, British big-screen legend, Sir John Mills was buried. He died last Saturday, aged 97, after starring in more than 100 films during a career spanning over 70 years. The well loved & respected quintessentially English-man had worked till the end.
His widow, actress & author of renown, Mary Haley Bell, was comforted by family & friends, and a host of stars. Lords, Ladies, Dames and Knights of the realm, abounded.
Also there, was the Prime Minister's wife, Cherie Blair; protecting herself from the drizzle, with a huge, multi-coloured, wide-striped umbrella -- emblazoned with the name & logo of the private helicopter company that carries her and her husband around. Ugh! Tasteless? That's Cherie's middle name. But that's another story.
As in many such sombre proceedings, there were a couple of lighter moments though.
As Sir John's coffin was carried into church, the swinging strains of Frank Sinatra's 'You make me feel so young,' filled the air.
After the funeral, many happy memories were recounted among the mourners -- including some delightfully, funny ones.
One, related to the time, not too long ago, when Sir John and his wife were honoured guests at the gala opening of Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber's musical version of 'Whistle Down The Wind'. The original film version, many may remember, featured the Mills' youngest daughter [ then, child-star] Hayley.
At this point, I should add, that though not widely known, Mary Haley Bell [now aged 92] fell victim to the awful Alzheimers, some time ago.
After sitting, seemingly spellbound, throughout the glitz & glamour of the first night performance, an exchange between the couple occurred as the final curtain fell. An exchange overheard by several of the gathered, great & good.
"Well, what did you think, darling?" asked Sir John, as he turned to clasp Mary's hand. Even above the rattle of the surrounding tiaras and jewelry, her reply was clearly heard. "Crap!" she said.