Thursday, December 25, 2008

Harold Pinter

Back before my senior year of college, I went to London with some friends for the summer to take some classes in art and drama. Before we left the States, one of the teachers had us read some plays, in preparation for the many dramas, musicals, comedies and just plain weird theatrical experiences we would encounter in London. The very first play we read was Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter, which offers the classic line, "Scampi!"

That line became a repeating theme throughout our trip. On our first day in London, after a sleepless night on the plane and then a morning on train, subway, and finally on foot, getting from the airport to our lodgings, we staggered around our little neighborhood, exhausted, hungry and completely disoriented, searching for something to eat. We finally stumbled into a pub and asked if they served food and -- wouldn't you know it? -- scampi was on the menu. One of my friends coughed out the line in his excitement at finally finding any kind of nosh. For the rest of the summer, it became one of those words that people spitted and shouted as punctuation, or like a tic. "Scampi!"

It's a great little play, and it's become all the more memorable for me because I associate it with all the fun I had that summer, traipsing about London and its environs (along with Paris and Amsterdam).

So, that was the time that came to my mind when I heard that the great Harold Pinter died yesterday, at the age of 78. He was not only a great writer, but also a gifted actor, director and activist. What a loss.

1 comment:

tut-tut said...

I remember seeing The Go-Between in high school or early college; very heightened sense of all sensations. I was surprised to hear of his death this morning.