A homage to Kubrick that makes me cringe before the god of shame

And so the longest prick-tease in cinema history comes to an end and we finally get to see the scientologist Tom Cruise ease his glacial- eyed Aussie wife out of her Marks & Spencer Aertex undies. I haven't yet decided whether I will watch. There is something inherently disgusting about public displays of marital love-making. Not pornographic; worse than pornographic - sexually sanctimonious.

And I've never been much of an admirer of Kubrick anyway. All lens and no trousers. Spectacular shots but nothing to chew on, unless you happen to be a gadget or future freak. Light on ideas, I've always thought. Hence the mysterious private life. People who are light on ideas frequently closet themselves away to suggest hidden depths. There never was a hermit yet who had a lot to tell the world, nor a man with a busy brain who shunned company.

For me, the most interesting person to turn up on telly in the course of the week's Kubrikfest was Alan Conway, the confidence man who for years passed himself off as the reclusive director, exciting people who should have known better with half-promises of stardom. Died from a heart-attack, a few months before Stanley died of his.

So just who was aping whom? Alive, Conway had an engaging manner and a touching melancholy-mischievous smile. You get to learn about human nature when you trespass on its credulity. Certainly more than you learn sequestered in Hertfordshire tending the lonely flame of your own genius. He seemed wistful about his success, sad for us that we put up so little resistance, that we wanted fame and fortune so badly we'd trust anyone who was offering.

I say "us" advisedly. It shames me to admit this, but admit it I must - I too was one of Conway's gulls. For a brief hour I allowed the less authentic though more philosophical of the two Stanley Kubricks to spin my universe giddy, like a globe of the world on a geography teacher's desk. Here is how it happened.

I was appearing on The Late Show, one of several critics discussing a new play by Arthur Miller. A play about a fantasist, as it happened. But I am not going to dwell on coincidences. No higher being was controlling this, unless it was Pudor, god of shame. To my credit, I was unmoved when the producer of the programme ran breathless into the studio immediately after transmission to say Stanley Kubrick had been watching, had enjoyed the show, was on the phone "Right now!" and was asking for me. I'm one of those people who want for nothing in the moments following an appearance on television. Stanley Kubrick? How could Stanley Kubrick add to my stock of satisfactions? I had just addressed the nation on the only subject I cared about. I had pronounced on a work of literature and the British people had listened. Enough. "Kubrick Schmubrick," I said. "Get him to leave a number."

And I rang him back first thing in the morning? Hi, Stanley - Hi, Howard? Trust me, I did not. Nor the morning after that. If you want to know, I forgot all about him. It was only when I ran into someone from The Late Show that I even remembered I had his number in my wallet. But that's all the god Pudor needs, the narrowest lattice of opportunity. I rang, got a recorded message in an accent more Purley than Brooklyn - the butler, I decided - left my number, waited, and later that same day found myself perspiring into my phone while a director whose judgement I had never valued told me how much he admired my work. You want to see me cringe? I'm cringing now. Yes, I fell for the flattery. Yes, I thought I was about to be made an offer I could not refuse. But worse, I spoke these words: "And I, of course, am a lifelong fan of your films, Mr Kubrick."

It's the lie I can't forgive myself for. Not the giddy expectations, not the churning sensation in my stomach, but the lie. I'd like to say I was merely returning compliment for compliment. Acting out of good manners. You get my shtik, I get your shtik. But the truth is, I spoke words which had not a grain of truth in them because I wanted to snuggle close to celebrity, to dollars, to a reputation for which, when I was myself and not the dupe of fame, I didn't give a fig.

Not only am I not a "fan" by nature, I hold it as a matter of fervent principle that fanship is demeaning and ungodly. Admiration for the vitality of someone else's intelligence and imagination is another matter. I buttonholed the novelist Milan Kundera on Charing Cross Road once, told him he had given me more pleasure than any writer living, shook his hand, would have kissed him had he let me, and walked on. I felt good after that. Disinterested commendation, you see. From which you look for nothing in return. Whereas Alan Stanley Conway-Kubrick was beckoning from the bowels of the bitch- goddess Success, out of whose rump, suddenly, I couldn't take my nose. And you definitely don't feel good after you've been in there.

Now you know the worst. Almost. When I never heard from Conway again I smelt a rat and wrote to Kubrick through my agent, thanking him for his interest if indeed it was him I had spoken to, and warning him of an impostor if not. Still holding out half a hope, you see, for nothing I wanted or esteemed.

Recalling it, I die again with shame.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas