Bryan Forbes

A rare, unvarnished honesty: Pete Postlethwaite remembered

Pete Postlethwaite, with whom, sadly, I never worked, belonged to that group of journeymen actors who command the respect and admiration of their peers but are denied the wider honours until death claims them. How amazed he would have been by the enormous photograph that graced the front-pages of the newspapers — his unique, craggy

Diary – 17 October 2009

Santa Barbara It was a long way to go for a first night: the 10-hour flight to Los Angeles, then a two-hour drive along the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Barbara, a place fondly, but somewhat inaccurately, known as the Californian Riviera — fine beaches but, alas, no warm Mediterranean sea. It was worth the expense

It takes a vindictive mind to tax a view

Downloading the Valuation Office Agency’s no-longer-secret £13 million database, I find that having lived in my house for the past 50 years and having, for those five decades, diligently paid my income and council taxes, my home is about to become my misfortune because of so-called taxable amenities. Using the Freedom of Information Act I

Three women showed me how bad things have got

Over the last week I have been pondering the lives of three totally different women. The first was our dim, weasel-worded Home Secretary, adept at letting others fall on their sword but unwilling to follow suit. Second, the late Jade Goody with her sad, manufactured martyrdom, and last a hard-working NHS doctor responsible for the

Where is our inspiration when we most need it?

Bryan Forbes remembers listening to Churchill as a 14-year-old evacuee and now looks with envy at Obama’s capacity to galvanise hope. Where are his UK counterparts? All across America, galvanised by an inspirational candidate, people stood in line for up to four hours in order to vote, many for the first time in their lives,

The market crashes, but the gravy train rolls on

It is difficult to think of anything more depressing than the recent photographs of a smirking Lord Mandy in his ermine drag flanked by two of yesterday’s major groupies, Lord Falconer and Baroness Jay, she who gleefully masterminded the removal of the hereditary peers, but couldn’t resist a title for herself. At the very moment

In his own words

Ever Dirk: The Bogarde Letters by John Coldstream (editor) The art of letter-writing being in terminal decline and with precious little romance in emails or mobile-phone texts, this fascinating collection of Dirk Bogarde’s letters is a rare gift to those who think nostalgically of a less mechanical way of life. Puffing on 60 cigarettes a

Who decided that all motorists were criminals?

Bryan Forbes sees in the persecution of drivers a terrible metaphor for England’s decline: ministers hide in limousines while the police waste their time on minor road offences Do others like me wake every day angry that we are unwilling members of a persecuted majority? At the risk of becoming a serial whiner, it seems

Diary – 16 February 2008

This week I have been prey to a prolonged bout of insomnia induced, I suspect, by the fact that I stay up to watch the BBC’s Ten O’Clock News followed by Newsnight and, invariably, one or the other contains an item which so disturbs me that my brain continues churning into the small hours. Despair

Get your hands off my light bulbs, Big Brother

Call me old-fashioned, as Dame Edna says, but I don’t fancy spending my remaining years in semi-darkness because this poxy government has performed yet another knee-jerk reaction and decreed that all incandescent light bulbs will be phased out, whether we like it or not. A warning bulletin from Defra informs us that should we be

In less than a fortnight I turned down £2 million

Bryan Forbes is drawn into a cyberspace scam by an indignant ‘happily married’ woman who invites him to Madrid to arrange a princely payout It all began when an email greeted me one morning with ‘Dear Esteemed Winner, we are pleased to inform you of the result of the Fatelgordo International Promotions Program. Your email

I have earned the right to shout at my television

My wife tells me that my present state reminds her of the famous Thurber cartoon of a woman crouched on top of a wardrobe with the watching man captioned as saying: ‘For ten years I’ve known peace with you, Mildred, and now you say you’re going mad.’ If you substitute the genders, and the fact

King of the lurid spectacle

What a strange, gifted little martinet he was, this celluloid Nixon who demanded that his every word, no matter how trite or banal, was preserved exactly by his ‘field secretary’ while another acolyte, the ‘chair boy’, ensured that wherever he was he could sit down without looking. Surrounded by these perpetual attendants and telling his

Diary – 2 June 2007

I don’t keep a diary any more, having decided that my past efforts contained too much that was either libellous or trite. However, leafing through a collection of oldies this week I noted one pertinent item, namely that when the National Insurance scheme was launched in July 1948, Bevan’s vision was greeted with mixed feelings