I’ll never forget the day that I was told Roger Moore had passed away. I was getting dressed in my bedroom, my mind already fragile given that Britain had come under attack from terrorism in Manchester the night before. My dad called to me at the bottom of the stairs and raced up them. Slightly ashen-faced, he said: “Have you heard about Rog? (because he was ‘Rog’ to us, almost like a relative) He’s died.”
Call me stupid, but it was almost on a par with family bereavement. I had been a fan of his since I was five years old, and that day I was putting on my white smart shirt, fiddling the cuff-links through their holes and straightening my tie. The day wasn’t even a special occasion. I was dressing like that because I wanted to. And probably because Roger Moore’s impeccable dress sense (flared safari suits excepted) influenced me in that way, too. I had been watching his Bond films, his other screen outings, as well as his TV performances such as The Saint and The Persuaders!, for nigh-on two decades.
Why did I like Roger Moore? Well, when you’re five years old, you might find the idea of someone like James Bond firing guns at bad guys and kissing girls and driving cars that fire out oil and smoke and and be driven underwater really cool, and I was no exception. Many a day in my formative years were spent peddling my tyke car around the front room, in my mind driving a white Lotus Esprit around Sardinia with Barbara Bach, holding a replica handgun like it was a real Walther PPK, asking why didn’t I have a small mole to the left of my nose like him. And when I got older it was more than that of course, although I may or may not still have a temptation to have a replica gun and scuttling around my bedroom like I’ve infiltrated a villain’s lair. Now it was about how he always conducted himself personally. Dressing in smart blazers, polished shoes, a hair never out of place and showing a great deal of good manners and humour are now traits I have painstakingly attempted to replicated the older I’ve become. And his humanitarian work with UNICEF has also shown me about treating people with respect and empathy when they require it. Sir Roger possessed the basic attributes all good human beings have, except he utilised them to raise awareness for children in deprived areas of the globe to have better lives.
Aspects of his personal life have now inspired me to not only be successful at my chosen craft, but to ensure that I am able to reap the benefits of it. I now want to live in an apartment in Monaco with my girlfriend (who has accepted this obsession with good grace), drinking Martinis (his favourite tipple) and eating pork pies (his favourite foodstuff) until the sun sets on the Mediterranean. I don’t intend to live just how Sir Roger lived it, but to live as Jack Oliver Smith means encapsulating the coolness he exuded. I’m going to wear double-breasted blazers, a signet ring on my pinky finger and raise an eyebrow whenever the situation requires it. Because let’s face it – Roger Moore was cool. He was cooler than a freezer in shades. There’s no denying it.
I met him shortly after his 85th birthday in 2012. A lot of my childhood had been spent stalking various places where he lived on holiday, or at least visiting the locations he filmed Bond movies in. But his Evening With Sir Roger Moore theatre tours began and one of the first dates happened to be ironically on my doorstep in Southampton. We bought tickets in April, we were all so excited to go. My brother even caught a plane from visiting his now-wife in America to be there. To see this man in the flesh was something of a surreal experience, especially when he looked-up and thanked me after signing a copy of his book afterwards. It was like staring into the face of God. They say never meet your heroes, but my experience was pretty awesome.
Godspeed, Rog. I’m now going to watch the pre-credits sequence of The Spy Who Loved Me with the same wonder that I did when I was five.
Heaven may need you, but so does England.
Jack Oliver Smith is the Associate Editor of New Media Central. Follow him on Twitter @MisterJackSmith
You can donate to UNICEF at unicef.org.uk
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