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Judy Garland and me


I was a small boy at the King’s School, Canterbury in the summer of 1962. Along came Dirk Bogarde and Judy Garland to make a film. I could go on singing told the story of an American star returning to England to visit the lovechild she had abandoned after a fling with Dirk Bogarde.

The boy was supposed to be a pupil at King’s. Cue big excitement in the precincts of Canterbury cathedral as the film crew turned up one morning with Bogarde in tow, and Judy Garland in a director’s chair, resting her feet in fluffy slippers between takes.

The King’s School uniform comprised wing collars, black coats and striped trousers, much like the uniform in the film If. To this ensemble, one of the extras had added yellow socks, a definite no-no in 1962.

The Dean of Canterbury emerged from the Deanery in a rage. He complained to Ronald Neame, the film’s director, that no real King’s boy would have worn yellow socks. His outburst prompted this cartoon by Jak in next day’s London Evening Standard.

The cartoon isn’t far wrong. I never knew anybody who carried  a flick knife, but a boy in my house certainly carried  a bicycle chain and used it in self-defence against local yobs.

I think I appear in one of the film’s  crowd scenes. They always cut it when the film is shown on television. The film wasn’t very good, partly because Judy Garland was so spaced out on drugs that she wasn’t able to complete certain crucial scenes.

Very sadly, I could go on singing turned out to be Judy Garland’s last film. Mine too, as it happens.

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