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
music Malik left the Asian leg of the band's world tour after being signed off with stress last week
News
Author J.K. Rowling attends photocall ahead of her reading from 'The Casual Vacancy' at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on September 27, 2012 in London, England.
peopleNot the first time the author has defended Dumbledore's sexuality
News
‘The Late Late Show’ presenter James Corden is joined by Mila Kunis and Tom Hanks for his first night as host
news
Arts and Entertainment
Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat and Blackberry Wine, wrote a blog post attacking the app and questioning its apparent 'strong Christian bias'
books
Arts and Entertainment
Leading light: Sharma in London

books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
News
Brooke Magnanti believes her reputation has been damaged by the claim
books
Arts and Entertainment
A large fire has broken out in London's historic Battersea Arts Centre
art
Arts and Entertainment
Orla Brady as Anne Meredith, MyAnna Buring as Elizabeth Quinn and Joanna Vanderham as Katherine McVitie in Banished
tvReview: Despite the gritty setting, this drama is as fluffy and soppy as a soap opera
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and co-director Richard Glatzer, standing, on the set during the filming of ‘Still Alice’ in New York
film
Arts and Entertainment
Great British Sewing Bee finalist Matt Chapple
tvReview: He wowed the judges with an avant garde dress
Arts and Entertainment
Driven to the edge: 'Top Gear' producer Oisin Tymon is said to have had a row with Clarkson
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nazi officer Matthias Schoenaerts embarks on an affair with married French woman Michelle Williams in 'Suite Francaise'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Prime movers: Caitriona Balfe (centre) and the cast of Outlander
TV
News
Feasting with panthers: Keynes
books
Arts and Entertainment
Strung out: Mumford & Sons
music
Arts and Entertainment
Avant-garde: Bjork
music
Arts and Entertainment
Despite a decade of reform, prosecutions and convictions of rape has remained consistently low
arts + entsAcademic and author Joanna Bourke in warning to arts world
Arts and Entertainment
Electro Velvet, made up of Alex Larke and Bianca Nicholas, will represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015
music
  • Get to the point
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.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
    Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

    Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

    A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
    Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

    Election 2015

    Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May