Monday, 6 October 2008

Paul Newman Helped Me Pass My Driving Test (Sort Of)

I never met Paul Newman, not that I ever expected to. So I won't ever get a chance to thank him for helping me with my driving test. I gather he was a nice man and I'd like to think he would have been charmed by the story.

Strictly it was him, Robert Rossen and Jackie Gleason. The film is The Hustler and there's a bit in the first game between Eddie and Fats where they take a break. They've been playing pool for hours and Eddie just sits around and chats, maybe has a drink, while Fats goes and gets clean. Fats takes off his jacket and washes himself and combs his hair. The black guy then helps him back on with his jacket and puts talc (I guess) on Fats' hands. Eddie looks at Fats and says something about "You look beautiful Fat Man" and cracks up with laughter. At that point you know that Eddie has lost the first game.

There's something cool about that moment. In a literal sense. Fats cools himself while Eddie doesn't take the time to stop and think he just carries on.

Well, when I took my driving test I got flustered at my first right hand turn, nothing too bad, just nerves. I remembered that moment from The Hustler and I imagined myself as Minnesota Fats putting his jacket on and feeling that little bit cooler. It helped.

The Hustler is a film of many great moments and it is one of my favourites. It helped me pass my driving test.

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