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Robert Morley

Robert Morley has appeared in three films with Dirk Bogarde: The Doctor’s Dilemma and Libel in 1959 and Hot Enough for June in 1963. His most recent film is High Road to China.

Diary: Give me a Basher to travel

Robert Morley, 20 March 1986

In the midst of a recent cold snap am off to Glasgow to speak at a dinner for the Brewers’ Benevolent Society. Super Shuttle involves free drinks but climbing in and out of buses. I tread warily and impede those innocents who believe the vehicle will take off when they climb aboard. Seasoned travellers realise that a degree of discomfort and indeed overcrowding must first prevail. Domestic flights are the Cinderellas, Birmingham is not Capri: calm down and walk.

Coup de Guinness

Robert Morley, 5 December 1985

Alec Guinness got off on the wrong foot. Like a great many actors he had an unsuccessful childhood. In adolescence he tried to be someone else and after a time succeeded. He never forgave his mother for not telling him who his father was. He never forgave his mother – period. She did, however, care for Alec after her fashion and brought him up and sent him to boarding school, and even for a while provided him with a stepfather, who from time to time held him upside down over bridges, threatening to drop him into the running water to convince him that it was in his best interest to persuade his mother to disgorge part of his patrimony. The patrimony came from a mysterious source. Alec was convinced that part of it was a gold watch but never succeeded in obtaining possession from the solicitor who handed out the funds which were supposed to pay for his schooling and indeed did – until he was 18, when everything stopped except his continuing search for a father. His mother emerges as a feckless but not altogether unlikeable lady who conditioned her child to moonlight flits from hotels in the Cromwell Road, and who was constantly explaining to his chums, and everyone else, that she had mislaid her handbag and was short of a fiver. On one occasion, Guinness came home on leave to find Mother Courage had burgled his one-room flat and left a neat docket of pawn tickets on the mantelpiece.

Groupie

Robert Morley, 21 June 1984

Filming a few years back in Paris, we were visited on the set by a cardinal. Alec Guinness being absent, I took it upon myself to show him around and at the same time express my sorrow that he had missed so recent a convert to his faith. His Eminence allowed himself a rather wintry smile. ‘That,’ he observed, ‘is a conversion I understand we owe more to the cinema than the Church. He was very good as Father Brown.’

Hatters’ Castle

Robert Morley, 4 August 1983

Roy Hattersley’s book is an engaging account of what life was like for those caught in the poverty trap in Britain during the Thirties and Forties. The Hattersley family eventually climbed out: Enid, his mother, became Lady Mayoress of Sheffield and Roy a possible future prime minister. Like Mr Tebbitt’s celebrated parent, his father got on his bike, and at one time pedalled thirty miles each way to Barnsley on a machine with a front wheel so buckled it threw its rider into the air like a circus performer. There was no money for a new wheel, so the daily journey was made moving up and down as well as forward.

Demob

Robert Morley, 7 July 1983

‘The pool,’ writes Baroness Falkender ‘has every imaginable facility from changing-room and showers to a pantry for drinks and tea-making. Douglas Hurd’s two sons learned to swim at Chequers and so did mine.’ Chequers deserves a whole chapter, there are so many tributes to be paid. To the telephone girls, ‘quite simply the best telephone girls in the world’, who go down to operate the switchboard on the second floor every time the prime minister spends a weekend there. (They usually arrive only minutes ahead of the prime minister’s car but they use a different entrance.) To the delicious cream cakes, almost as much a feature of the establishment as the baked grapefruits marinated in liqueur with which dinner habitually commenced. Pickles and jams, she notes, are homemade and the brandy butter the best she ever tasted. No wonder she is disappointed when all this and much else besides comes to a rather abrupt end on the morning of Tuesday, 16 March 1976.

Kiss and Tearle

Robert Morley, 2 June 1983

In Godfrey; A Special Time Remembered Jill Bennett tells how she braved the sacred portals of the Garrick Club to continue a row with her lover Godfrey Tearle, how the old actor came down a flight of stairs two at a time absolutely furious, how he took hold of her wrist, sat down and, putting her across his knee, spanked the living daylights out of her. Then he threw her into a taxi, saying: ‘Go home and learn to behave yourself.’ Fellow members who witnessed the incident might have admonished Godfrey in similar terms. The Garrick only officially admitted ladies on Sunday. Nowadays in Garrickland, as in most Gentlemen’s Clubs, when after dusk the ladies predominate, he would undoubtedly have been set upon by members’ wives and mistresses and forced to desist.

At the Connaught

Robert Morley, 5 May 1983

It depends, I suppose, on what you thought of the film Death in Venice.

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