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
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
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.

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

    Education: Football Beyond Borders

    Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
    Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most