When I was approximately the age of four, I vividly recall my dad and my brother returning from a shopping trip and producing a VHS copy of The Spy Who Loved Me. I imagine it must have been rare for me, an active and restless kid, to sit still for so long, but I sat through the whole film. Little did I know then but watching that film shaped my life from then on. The rest of my childhood encompassed rewinding various scenes from that film until the tape was almost worn; I recreated each one in the living room and most importantly, it began a fandom of Sir Roger Moore that has lasted to this very day.
Intermittently in the intervening years since, I’ve attempted to comb my hair like his as well as dress like him (safari suits excepted). I’ve also tried in vain to channel the dignity, charm, and the cool that he exuded. As for replicating the raised eyebrow? I think I’m getting there. Slowly.
He played a big part of my childhood, and the fondness for him and his work rubbed off on my family, as we took holidays abroad to destinations he either played James Bond in or where he lived. Now, that will strike you as something stalkers would do. Well, you’re probably right, but if you’re going to follow in the footsteps of someone, make it someone as great as him.
You can imagine the hilarious irony of all this when, in 2012, he announced a tour in which he would talk about his life and career, and one of the first stops was Southampton, about a ten minute car journey away. To have watched him on the big and small screen all these years then to see him appear before me through the curtain at the Mayflower Theatre was surreal. After the show, we queued for him to sign a copy of a book he’d just released. The queue snaked around the auditorium and slowly but surely we reached a table in the bar at which he was sat. I’m fairly sure my mouth was agape as I stood in his presence, watching him sign his name in the book. When he looked-up, smiled with that familiar twinkle in his eye and thanked me, it came as a shock that I was even able to compose a thank you back to him, but I did.
I spoke to Roger Moore and Roger Moore spoke to me. I still pinch myself.
Imagine how sad I felt today when I learned that he has died aged 89 after a brief battle with cancer. Little did he know it but he was an important component of my formative years and will remain so forever. I want to personally thank him for the added joy he brought to my childhood and my life since.
I suppose wherever he is now, that halo that was perched above him in The Saint is now above him for real.