One day, I was asked if I wanted to accompany them, in my usual role of chaperone for the Other Girl. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this was a time when I was a certified Chaperone for the Other Girl. A was going to do the driving. I had been given advance notice, so not a trace of coconut oil may have been found on my person. As a nod to the fashion of the times, I wore my brother’s borrowed 30inch black bell bottom trousers, dress shoes and white shirt with large blue, red and black squares all over it.
Over we drove to pick up R. X, ( I really, really cannot remember her name ), was already there and off we went to the movies. Conversation was dominated by R, who talked of many things, except cabbages and kings. X and I had nothing to talk about, we quickly discovered. She did not share R’s affection for Jethro Tull, nor indeed any other form of rock or rock and roll music. ( It’s a trick! The image you see is not of the band Jethro Tull, but the agriculturist whose name the band adopted. ) We carried on a desultory broken conversation about movies we had seen. It turned out that we hadn’t seen the same ones.
Today I can use a linked list of jumbled trivia to talk endlessly about anything by jumping from node to node within my internal brain. Using half-remembered facts joined together by corroborating facts from other nodes now allows me to carry on a semi-intelligent conversation with any person on almost any topic. At that point in my life, I was still amassing useless trivia, but hadn’t yet learned to use it.
And so the long afternoon wore on.
Flashback to 1968, Charles de Gaulle, Le Général, is under threat. The Organisation de l’armée secrète have hired an Englishman to assassinate him. Frederick Forsyth’s attempts to resolve his financial brokeness gave birth to an international bestseller. The Day of the Jackal was also made into a movie, starring Edward Fox as the assassin. Complex scenes of intrigue were meticulously plotted in the book and the movie added visual effects such as exploding watermelons.
Sitting in the cool environs of the New Empire theater, X on my left with R on her left and A at the other end of the foursome, we settled in to see the action unfold. R and A kept up a regular conversation. I was hard pressed to work out what I should be doing. The complex plot appealed to my need for cerebral order. I was also acutely aware that I seemed to failing in my social duty of entertaining my companion. Clearly the degree of disgruntlement on her part was getting worse. My worst fears were realized when X said, “How nicely those two seem to be chatting! They have so much to talk about!”. I had to agree.
Now I am unable to follow the plot of the movie at all. Onscreen the Jackal is busy in bed with the beautiful Madame Montpellier. They’ve been in bed before. I’m struggling to figure out what to say next. The Jackal is holding the Madame in his arms, she goes limp. He leaves, driving her Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spyder. I see all this from the corner of my eye. The ill-fated Madame’s body is discovered the next day, her neck broken.
I can be heard saying “Oh, he was strangling her!”