My brother, as I said in my last post, has always been a great role model and hero of mine. Now I want to focus on a couple of other people who have chipped in too (without knowing it to a large degree (although I did meet one of them once and tell him so).
I chose to pick out two people who have influenced me a great deal in different areas of my life. I’m going to write a little bit about them and explain why they have been influential to me.
I was 14 or 15 when Twin Peaks was first on TV. I wrote about it already in a post from a while ago (A Place Both Wonderful and Strange). I won’t bore you with the details again but that was something that has been highly influential to me ever since. I’m so looking forward to the return of this ground-breaking show next week. I’m not staying up until 2am to watch it, but the Sky box will be set up and I’ll probably get up at 5am to see it before I go to work. The cats usually wake me up at that time anyway so it’s no great upheaval.
Anyway, central to the show was the character of Special Agent Dale Cooper, played by Kyle Maclachlan. By that time, he’d already made a name for himself starring as Paul Atreides in David Lynch’s film version of Dune and in other projects that I had not seen at that point in my life. He grew up in Washington State, a place that I would dearly love to revisit at some point and, like me, is a keen supporter of the Seattle Seahawks. He always brings something special to the roles he plays; a sort of innocence combined with fierce intelligence. My piece about The Hidden, which you can find here, highlighted that. Agent Cooper is clearly a character that he loves playing and I especially loved the pathos he brought to some of his scenes. There’s a great moment where he tells Audrey about the tragedy he went through when he fell for someone he was supposed to be protecting.
Above all, it was the confidence that Maclachlan brought to the character that really inspired me; always ready to grasp the nettle. I was an impressionable teenager at the time with not an abundance of confidence. Watching Cooper at work made me walk a little taller at school, behave like I had more of a purpose. I even carried around an old Dictaphone I begged my Dad for to record my thoughts while I was at school. they were, of course, addressed to the mysterious Diane. I think I’ve written this before, but I’d love to know where those tapes are today. I’d love to hear what 15 year old me was thinking at the time. That has stayed with me ever since. Needless to say, I wanted to join the FBI but that never quite worked out. I also find myself putting my thumb up in a very specific way at every opportunity. This has been going on a lot more since I became a teacher. It’s my default form of communication when children are doing the right things. You can watch the video below to see how it’s done.
I was so lucky to meet the man himself whilst I was working at Heathrow Airport (H is for Heathrow). I was walking along with my wheelchair to the BA Shuttle Lounge at Gate 5 when I saw him strolling the corridor. He was kind enough to stop and give me his autograph and I told him what a big fan I was of his work and the show. It’s got a place in my scrapbook with Kevin Keegan, Bobby Robson, Peter Beardsley and Pele (most people I bumped into at the airport were football-related).
It’s so nice when you meet your heroes and they’re actually nice people. He even read the article about Twin Peaks that I put the link to above and was kind enough to send me a message on Twitter to say he enjoyed it. Aces!
In fact, I’ll even give a plug for the wine company that he co-owns in thanks.
Captain James T Kirk
I grew up watching Star Trek on BBC2. 6pm repeats that seemed to be on all year round when I was young. The whole family would sit and watch Kirk and the crew’s adventures. You can see my favourites here. Kirk always got stuff done one way or another. He was never afraid to make tough decisions and could always be relied upon to put his own neck on the line for his crew. I watched a lecture by the late, great Randy Pausch in which he praised the kind of leadership skills that Captain Kirk possesses. He’s not the smartest person on the Enterprise, he’s not the best Doctor or the best engineer. He clearly just has this skillset called ‘leadership’. He manages to make the best use out of the talents that other people have. This is what I try to emulate in what I do. Below is a clip I found with some examples.
William Shatner made Captain Kirk fantastically memorable. He’s truly brilliant in the role and, although I like bits of Chris Pine’s re-imagining of the character, there will only ever be one Captain Kirk for me.
The character’s name was based on Captain James Cook, but the primary inspiration was C S Forrester’s Hornblower character, also the inspirational Captain of a ship on long voyages. I did hear once that Hornblower might have been an influence on the character of Agent Cooper and that would be a nice way to tie the two together.
So, that’s two people who influenced me. ‘L’ will be coming next and, to be honest, I could go one of three ways with that. It could be London, Lego or Lantau Peak. I guess the answer will come to me when I sit down next.
Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this, you can check out my other entries for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge here:
H is already linked above.