“I'm becoming known as the Heaton Decker, he said. There's worse things to be known as, I assured him.”
I met my friend John Adams earlier this afternoon for coffee in a local cafe. "I can give you 45 minutes," he said. Not in a Filofax carrying, mobile-phone-obsessed wanker way though - John is genuinely the busiest man I know. I met him when we were both doing a writing MA at Newcastle University. I can't remember the exact moment though. He was not there. Then he was there - like when you suddenly notice a classic song has been playing in the background for a while. I liked his writing, the emotive, forty-a-day raspiness of his prose readings, and the way he smiled at you which felt like you were bathing in sunshine. But most of all I liked his humility - it wasn't until a year or so into our friendship that I learned he was a hugely accomplished film maker and artist, with work in major collections worldwide. John is not one to throw these things into casual conversation. He's far too busy ferrying things back and forth in his Land Rover for friends, working on his allotment, helping out a friend of his daughter with some equipment for a student film - and building decks for people -usually in return only for the cost of the materials and a pint.
"I've built six since lockdown. I'm becoming known as the Heaton Decker, he said." There's worse things to be known as, I assured him.”
About 3 years previously, when I had mentioned to John I was looking for someone to play Harry in the film, he said he knew someone. Of course he did. One in three of the world's population is a friend of John - it's that smile. "I'll give my friend Mike a ring," he said. I was expecting to hear back from someone he'd done a bit of decking for, who did a spot of acting on the side. But instead, I got a call from Michael Hodgson, star of stage and screen and member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Mike and I went for coffee. I sat crapping myself as I watched him read the script. This is it, the moment of truth, a proper actor reading my script. He gave no clue as to what he thought of it as he read. Then he put it down, took a deep breath, and paused for a few seconds (he is an actor, after all). "Yeah, I like it," he said.
Michael’s "Dark Harry" voice elevated the film to more than a sum of its parts. As one friend commented after hearing it: "He puts the fear of God up you." Looking back, everything seemed so casual, natural, and so easy to take for granted. But getting Michael Hodgson to play Harry was a gift from the Gods, and John's friendship is even more so. And yes, I know I will have acutely embarrassed you by writing this John - but that's what friends are for eh?
John Adams talking about his 1985 film: "Intellectual Properties"