Edward Woodward(1930-2009) died today(16/11/09). He was born in Croydon, Surrey which, in 1965, became a part of Greater London. It is the town where my grandfather was born in 1872. We both had working-class parents. But it is there that a comparison between Woodward and me ends. He became one of England’s finest actors in the last half of the twentieth century. He was also a singer with a dozen albums and an author. His 300 page memoir, One Brief Interval,(1) makes a good read. I, on the other-hand, became famous in micro-worlds, in classrooms across two continents, as a teacher. I also became a Bahá'í.
Woodward started his acting career at the age of 16 in 1946. At 16 I was in grade 11. In his teens he aspired to being a professional footballer. I aspired at that young age to being a professional baseball player. I won’t summarize the many highlights and achievements of Woodward’s career which readers can easily read about at Wikipedia(2), the online encyclopedia; nor will I summarize my life since the age of 16 in 1956. This prose-poem will serve as a quasi-eulogy, a reminiscence, a reflection on a life, a life that existed beside mine in the world of celebrity, a world which exists beside all of us in the West, we who live with print and electronic media and their many and variegated forms. -Ron Price with thanks to (1) Miegunyah Press, Melbourne, 2005; and (2) Wikipedia, 16 November 2009.
It’s been quite a ride, eh Edward?
World War 2 starting when you
were only 9 and many more wars
since, eh? You seemed to weather-
it-all pretty well, Edward, as you
enriched the lives of millions with
your talents: your cool tenor voice.
There’s more to celebrity than just a name;
that’s for sure, eh Edward? I wish you well
wherever you are now: be it in oblivion----
a pretty safe place; or in your incarnated---
role wherever that may be; or in the world
beyond, that Undiscovered Country, between
two eternities, as you called it, Land of Lights,
as some call it. They will be different lights
than the ones you enjoyed on the stage and
screen here on this earthly plane, Edward....
May you now enjoy days of blissful joy and of
heavenly delight in some garden of happiness,
beholding new splendours on lofty mounts that
the pen cannot tell nor the heart recount to us
who still labour in this petty pace from day to
day to the last syllable of our recorded time....
Your candle has gone out, Edward. No more
strutting and fretting your hours. You will be
heard no more—here. But this tale, your life,
is not a story told by an idiot, full of sound &
fury, signifying nothing. What say you now,
Edward, what say you now in the language of
17 November 2009
PS (1)There are many excellent lines from Woodward’s memoir, lines like:
‘Childhood is measured out by the sounds and smells and sights before the dark of reason grows.’(p.3)
(2) ‘Leaving aside God and heaven, there is still much good teaching in religion, whether it is Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Aboriginal or any other’. The last chapter of Woodward’s memoir returns to the idea of life as “a brief interval between two eternities.”