Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lynn Redgrave and I - in Kampala, Uganda

I can never hear the strains of "Georgy Girl" without thinking of walking out of the movie theatre in Kampala, Uganda, and up the street, giddy with joy from having seen Lynn Redgrave in the movie of the same name as its title song.

We were so taken with her performance - someone who was about our age and unknown to us - in fact, I don't think we even knew of the Redgrave Dynasty. The movie had left us in such a state of excitement and pure pleasure. Another fellow ahead of us must have felt the same way, as he danced around a light pole, making us all laugh even more. We were humming the song, recalling bits of the movie, in the pleasant night air of Uganda's capital just a few years before it suffered Idi Amin and the accompanying atrocities.

We were Biafran "refugees," all Peace Corps Volunteers who had served together in the secessionist region of Nigeria and then were posted to schools in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi. Now, at Christmas break 1967, we were together for a few days, heading up north the next day to spend frigid nights at Murchison Falls, first crossing the Nile warily watching the enormously large hippos up close, worrying then (not safely on the bank, but then, right there, in the middle of the river - too late to do anything but stare!) if they would tip us over.

I'm here to say they didn't.

But, more to the point of this week's sad news of the loss of Lynn Redgrave who shall always be remembered by me for a long walk up the sidewalks of Kampala (did we actually skip as we went along? I suspect we did), absolutely taken with a movie that was one of those right-time, right-place films.

Perhaps as early as today, when I think no one is looking -- or I just don't care -- I'll dance around a nearby light pole and will be happy to explain to a curious cop or a nosey neighbor what the hell I'm doing.

Here's to Kampala, one of the most beautiful cities I've visited. And, of course, here's to Lynn Redgrave for a most memorable evening.