A friend of mine, well, not any more, came to London and invited me to dinner at his hotel. As a newly appointed acting editor of a magazine in a Gulf capital, he wanted some exciting stories for a grand entrance to his newly decorated office back home. I suggested several interviews three of which attracted his attention. One was with British fantastic actress Vanessa Redgrave.
At the time, the key to Vanessa’s door was with her brother Corin. He sanctioned the interview with his sister on the very strict and very reasonable condition that a copy of the published interview must be provided ASP.
I went to Vanessa’s apartment with my friend, at the time, of course, and there was a brief small talk before the interview started. Vanessa was a smoker, then, like me, but she didn’t have a lighter. As I approached to light her cigarette, she pulled back and said the light was too dangerously close to my fingers. That was moving. “Don’t worry,” I said, “had I not had a lighter I would gladly burnt my finger for you.”
She puffed and looked at me sideways, “Why would you do that? I wouldn’t burn my finger for you.”
“I wouldn’t expect you to, but I would burn my finger for you. Why? I have absolutely no idea.”
The interview went very well, I thought, and a promise to provide a copy ASP was made.
I translated the interview into Arabic and gave my friend, at the time definitely, a copy with a number of photographs.
Three weeks later, or so, I got a call from Corin asking about the fate of the interview. I told him that it was published but I haven’t received any copies, yet. A week later I called my friend, well!. He said that three copies were sent. I waited another week and called again. He assured me that the copies were sent but he is going to ask his secretary to send me a new batch.
A week later, no copies. I made another call. Again he said two lots of copies were sent to me.
A week later, still no copies.
I became suspicious so I called an old friend of mine who was managing the local news agency.
“You can’t be serious,” he said, “is it your interview?”
“It is and I need a copy immediately. I feel very embarrassed. Both Vanessa and Corin were promised copies weeks ago I don’t know how Vanessa feels about this but her brother is pissed off;.”
A longish silence followed.
“Listen,” he said, “for you I have good news and bad news. The good news is that the interview was published and elevated our mutual friend to the post of editor. The bad news is that you are unlikely to get any copies from him ever but I will send you one.”
He wouldn’t tell me the reason so I waited for the copy that arrived five days later. When I looked at the inset, I was relieved to find the full interview with all the photographs, but the name on the interview was his not mine..
I had, at last, a copy I could present to Corin, but I was more pissed off than him.
That was many years ago when I was a young man. Now I’m really old but actually I’m still pissed off. Not because of a single unauthorised plagiarism, Throughout my career I have been plagued with several.
But I’m also sad. Vanessa was eight years older than me but she looked eight years and more younger. I never thought she would age. But just like everybody else, it seems, she did.
I hope her heart is still young. It was.