Posts tagged titus oates
Posts tagged titus oates
A friend reminded me of the fact that it’s the hundredth anniversary of the BAE reaching the South Pole tomorrow, and I couldn’t not mention it, obviously. I don’t know the name of this man but:
“That photograph is a magnificent photograph of courage, and you can see they just… they’re not proud to have been there, which they should have been - anybody walking that distance should be rightly proud - but you can see they’ve lost their heart. They’re absolutely desolate because what they wanted to do, of course, was be the first people, and it’s an absolute tragedy to see… broken men like that, after doing a magnificent journey. That photograph is really really soul-destroying and you know, just looking at them, they definitely weren’t going to get home.”
I don’t even know why I’m so in love with the story of Scott and his party. I just adore it for reasons unknown. Something to do with wanting something and going for it with such resolute determination… I don’t know. There’s just a lot of love there. I’m not pretending to be an expert about it - I just think that what they endured was incredible, and they were just upstanding individuals, all of them. This photo, for me, does that whole breaking-your-heart-and-mending-it-at-the-same-time thing.
These are the exact same reasons why this photo always breaks my heart, too (though this other take is a bit happier, at least in terms of Oates’ jaunty stance & Birdie’s expression). I always want to go back in time and somehow save them, find a way for them to all become distinguished old Edwardian gentlemen instead of tragic heroes.
Gorgeous silk bedcushions from the Richard Morant Gallery, Notting Hill, London.
Lately I’ve been rewatching Poldark—one of my favorite shows when I was growing up (which has stood the test of time remarkably well, unlike some other British tv programs from the 1970’s)—and apart from adoring Mr. Morant in his role as Dr. Dwight Enys therein, his unforgettable portrayal of Lawrence “Titus” Oates in The Last Place on Earth (Granada, 1985) means that I’ve always wondered if I would burst into tears and want to fling my arms around him if I ever met him; I’m not sure there are many—if any—other actors who would elicit that reaction from me.
His performance so closely conforms to my internal image of who Oates actually was as a person that I can overlook the production’s reliance on Roland Huntford’s despicably biased “biography” of Captain R.F. Scott and hence contains numerous errors in historical accuracy—including having rewritten Oates’ immortal final words of, “I am just going outside and may be some time” as the infinitely less poetic, “Call of nature, Birdie.”
Mr. Morant and some of the other actors—Stephen Moore and Sylvester McCoy in particular—truly elevate the flawed script and convey such a solid sense of who these incredibly brave explorers actually were that I probably will forever associate him with that most heroically self-sacrificing of men. As a consequence, the next time I’m in London I would love to pop along to his gallery and see if there’s anything there I can afford (unlikely as that is). I’ve met enough famous people to be fairly blasé about the experience, but he’s one of the few I would be genuinely excited to meet, even if chances are good that I would embarrass myself. I’m sure he would react with the kind of grace that typifies his work as an actor.