The end of Bob ’n’ Gerry.
Today more bad double death-bed news bringing yet more heartbreak leavened only by fond reminiscence. I had the good fortune to be advising Bob Hoskins on his career direction back in 1980, following his minor breakthrough in Potter’s ‘Pennies from Heaven’, a currency that i profoundly wish will rain upon Bob as he makes his gruff transit through the heavenly gates. Bob was at a cross roads at that time, thinking about comedy but quite sure that there was scope for his dark side also. He sniffed around the idea of taking advice from Max Clifford for a while but then decided to go with a properly qualified career coach, aka yours truly.
The first exchanges were never easy but as the early sparring settled to nose to nose exchange of views (where we usefully applied the GROW model) it seemed clear that a Sweeney type drama would be the clear next step for Bob. While Bob loved the script for the Long Good Friday – where he would mastermind a property deal founded by the Mafia, only to run foul of the IRA – he was always a man for the method approach. Just as he had met then befriended the Kray twins in the past, he felt he needed direct access to the IRA to fill in the context, (where i helped him draw upon Porter’s five forces model to good effect.)
Flipping through my rolodex it was the work of few encrypted phone calls to contact Gerry Adams in his Belfast hideaway to arrange a meet in a quiet pub in Stranraer. As the beer and whisky flew tongues loosened to the point where Bob was really getting inside the IRA mind set (using guided visualisation techniques and advanced listening skills by donning a balaclava back-to-front.) While Bob learned greatly, Ideas were also flowing in the other direction towards Gerry. “You say the name of this fil-um is ‘The Long Good Friday’?
As a deeply religious man I could take exception to that but on the other hand it could be a perfect day of the year to forge a game changing alliance where Sinn Fein could drive the unification of all Ireland. We could call it the Long Good Friday Agreement – i am sure there is some ambitious young politician out there who would enjoy the hand of history on his shoulder at the turning point.’ Bob said ‘Yeh and by that time all of this fuss and nonsense about Jean McConville should have died down too. Memories are never that long.’ We staggered arm in armalite out into the night, Gerry onto the early morning ferry, Bob and me into my souped up Granada, well pleased with our evening’s work.
Bob’s career as you know blossomed from that point on, though despite my continuing professional support he did suffer deep moments of self-doubt, given his lowly background. He would frequently say ‘any time now I expect that 25 tons of horse shit is going to land on my head. ‘ No amount of positive affirmations could shif this fear though it never did realise, except until this morning. Is surely no coincidence that on the same morning of the announcement of Bob’s death British Security Forces decided on the state execution of Gerry Adams, just as Stormont gears up for fresh elections.
It was surprising though that MI5 filed photos of the execution to RTE and BCC, though perhaps they were following the PR strategy of the Assad regime, to whom they are cosy-ed up . The Sun reported under the front page last picture ever taken of Gerry Adams that ‘his last moment needed no words – merely anguished facial expressions subtly morphing from shock and fear into resignation and grim amusement.’ How redolent then of Bob’s last moments in the Long Good Friday when he realises that the game is finally up. And so on the same day we witness the demise of two menacing hard men with a vulnerable edge. I was glad that at lon at east one point in their troubled time on earth that I was able to bring them together for a moment of true reunion.