I’m not sure about this old ship business,’ said Marina. ‘Where’s the love-interest? Why can’t we go and see the Hugh Grant thing?’ ‘No no,’ I said, ‘I know it’s all about ships, but it’s gonna be great. Trust me.’ And I was right. They must be wizards, the people who filmed that Master and Commander. If we were to believe our senses, they had constructed two fully working ships of the line and sailed them into the mountainous seas off Cape Horn. As for the battle scenes, you haven’t seen such hyperkinetic violence since Saving Private Ryan. Every cannonball’s passage was traced with a whoosh of splintering timber and flying bodies, and brains all over the place, but then it was always splice yer futtocks, lads, and stand by to go about, as Russell Crowe fought back ingeniously against the Frenchie. We’d been goggling at this for about 15 minutes when I spotted something truly astonishing. ‘Oi,’ I said, jabbing my finger at the screen. Marina opened her eyes slowly. ‘It’s thingummy,’ I yelled. ‘It’s young wotsisname.’ Shiver my timbers and blow me down: Russell Crowe’s first lieutenant was played by the work- experience Johnny, who came to do filing at The Spectator.
He was called Max Benitz, keen, floppy-haired, roughly 18 and, now I came to think of it, he had mumbled something about a movie. ‘So, Max,’ I said to him when he came to leave after two action-packed weeks, ‘what does the world hold in store for you, eh?’ ‘Oh, I’ve just had a bit part in a film,’ he said. He was too modest. He played one of the most vital roles, rigging up a decoy ship to fool the French captain and leading the boarding party that stormed the Acheron in the final m