It’s five o’clock in the morning, and I’m wandering home from a night out.
I’m in Bristol trying to find my way back to my lodgings that I share with the landlady and her daughter in somewhere called Horfield.
Apparently, Cary Grant was born there.
Fuck! There it is!
This isn’t my photo. This was 2006. Smartphones had only just been invented, and I wasn’t the sort of partygoer to carry a camera around with me. Plus, I was incredibly drunk.
But I do remember stumbling down 15 Hughenden Road, and seeing the Blue Plaque on the wall.
After gazing at the one-story stone terraced house for a few minutes, I managed to find my way back across the park and back home.
So you see, it’s true! I used to live next door (almost) to a Hollywood legend.
And that should be the end of the story.
But it isn’t.
When I told my landlady the next morning about my nighttime excursion, she told me that she’d actually had lunch with him.
‘You had lunch with Cary Grant!’
In the early seventies, she was working as a waitress in the Clifton Gorge Hotel where Grant used to stay when he visited his mother in Clifton.
One evening, Grant invited her and a friend to lunch the next day in Chipping Sodbury, a nearby town in Gloucestershire. Grant picked the two girls up in his chauffeur-driven car and away they went.
‘He seemed fairly aloof,’ she told me. ‘Uninterested. And he hated that we smoked.’
The lunch lasted an hour, then they drove back to Bristol, and she never saw him again.
I lived ‘next door’ to Cary Grant for nearly four years, often showing people his house when I had visitors.
I too left the city for good in 2011. But I didn’t go to Hollywood like Grant. I went to Lyon in France. Home of the Lumière brothers. The first people to present a film to the paying public. Widely acknowledged as the birth of cinema.
This piece was inspired by Reuben Salsa’s post Sean Kernan Once Captained A Submarine and Other Unknown Facts.
(PS. There are actually two Hughenden Roads in Bristol — in case you go looking.)