I WAS talking about death and coincidence with Steve Dorril, author, Huddersfield University lecturer and organiser of the Holmfirth Film Festival.
Steve called to tell me that Alan Sillitoe, one of the Angry Young Men of the 1950s, had died on Sunday aged 82, an event that suddenly made me realise how swiftly the years are passing.
Sillitoe was one of a group of exceptionally talented writers who inspired me in my teenage years. Others included John Osborne and Jack Kerouac, both long gone.
The Nottingham-born writer, poet, playwright and novelist, was productive throughout his life but will be best remembered for his first two books – Saturday Night And Sunday Morning, published in 1958, and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1959).
The first was turned into a ground-breaking film in 1960, which made Albert Finney a star. To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Steve told me it has been chosen as the opening major production at the Holmfirth Film Festival on May 22.
Saturday Night And Sunday Morning also starred Rachel Roberts and had a jazz score by John Dankworth. It depicted working class life in a manner unseen before in British cinema. This raw reality set new standards that other writers and film makers followed and I still remember the shock when I first saw it with its bad language (mild by today’s standards) and risqué bedroom scenes.
The opening day of the Holmfirth festival will also feature the short film Roar by Huddersfield director Adam Wimpenny, who has mainly made his name in television. Wimpenny will be attending the Holmfirth screening and, on the same bill, will be Huddersfield actress Jodie Whittaker, whose films include Venus, in which she starred opposite Peter O’Toole.
The festival, with other big names already in the bag, looks like being a must-attend event.