The Nowness of Everything
On March 15th 1994, 18 years ago today, playwright Dennis Potter gave what he predicted (and what turned out to be) his last ever television interview to Melvyn Bragg. One month before, Potter had learned he had terminal cancer of the pancreas and liver. He was in great pain and sipped morphine from a hip flask during the interview, all the while smoking cigarettes held between fingers clenched by psoriasis and arthritis.
Amidst the discourse about his life and his work there came a part – a short monologue – on his outlook knowing his life was nearly over…
This worldview, all at once poetic yet pragmatic, always positive and never pitying, was more remarkable in light of the fact Potter was nursing his wife through her own cancer battle while living with the physical challenges of his illness.
Within two months of the interview, both Dennis Potter and his wife had succumbed to their cancers.
Melvyn Bragg recounted the interview in a documentary this week and described, with teary eyes, how remarkable the words were from this frail but fiery man. I watched it completely entranced. It simultaneously brought a huge smile to my face while causing that familiar knot in my chest. I realised that for many of us, myself included, such clarity of thought and awareness of being is seldom felt.
I wanted to share Dennis Potter’s words with you and I hope you share them too.