It’s the mid-nineties in London and a couple meet through a lonely hearts column. She is an middle class English married woman, he is an lonely Irish mechanic and despite the gulf between them they start an affair.
A long forgotten slice of life from the early 90’s with a soundtrack from the best band of all time.
Director: Angela Pope Writer: Ronan Bennett Producer: Belinda Allen Cinematography: Gavin Finney
Richard Hawley as Jim, Colum Convey as Bernie, Conleth Hill as Michael, John Keegan as Aidan, Harriet Walter as Charlotte, Peter Davison as Robert, Ray Nicholas as Crackdealer, Joanna Wake as Landlady, Doreen Mantle as Mrs. Norton, Kika Mirylees as Caroline, Bill French as John, Eamon Maguire as Jack McConville, Lesley Taylor Jones as Eileen, Emma Hill as Newscaster, Marianne Hemming as Woman Upstairs, Kevin Kibbey as Man Upstairs and
Shane MacGowan and The Popes as Themselves!
RUNNING TIME : 64 Minutes
MUSIC : The Pogues * Shane MacGowan And The Popes
Well until just recently I never even knew this film to exist! ‘A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day’ was made by Channel 4 and broadcast, it would appear, the one and only time way back in 1994. Why this should be is anyone’s guess especially in this day and age when it is possible to stream anything over the internet. The film is just over an hour long and tells the story of Jim, a lonely mechanic working over in London from Belfast with his mate Bernie.
Written by the prolific writer Ronan Bennett. Ronan was born in Belfast and has led an interesting life to say the least having been convicted of murdering an RUC Inspector in 1974 at the age of only 18. He was jailed in the notorious Long Kesh prison but his conviction was declared unsafe and overturned and he was released in 1975. He moved to London and in 1978 was caught up with the arrests around the anarchist Angry Brigade bombings and he was a defendant in the ‘Persons Unknown’ trial. Charged with conspiracy to cause explosions he was again sent to prison, serving 16 months on remand. Ronan conducted his own defence and all defendants were eventually found not guilty. He went on to study history at Kings College London receiving a first class honours degree and later completed his PhD at the college in 1987. Since then Ronan has wrote numerous screenplays and dramas as well as completing both novels and non-fiction books. He was the uncredited co-author of ‘Stolen Years’, the prison memoir of Paul Hill, one of the Guildford Four who were wrongfully convicted in 1975 of the Guildford pub bomb in 1974.
Straight away in the first five minutes of ‘A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day’ you get Shane MacGowan singing ‘Lullaby Of London’ over the credits as well as a half dozen Pogues references including a visit to White City greyhound track. The story begins as Jim spies an ad in the paper’s lonely hearts column and arranges to meet Charlotte a rich sophisticated English woman and they start a relationship together. The story sees the ups and downs of their romance and I wouldn’t want to give too much of the story away here as I doubt very few of you will have seen it. It really is a lovely short film with a simple tale of a couples affair. If that all sounds a wee bit too soppy for you then you will be able to console yourselves with the fantastic soundtrack of Pogues classics and that Shane MacGowan And The Popes make a brilliant appearance as a pub band playing live in what looks like The Canterbury Arms in Brixton. The boys including the late, and sorely missed, Tommy McManamon on banjo and Paul Mad Dog’ McGuinness on guitar give a great version of The Old Main Drag’. Lovely characterisation of how London can be a very lonely place and then a totally unexpected and sharp twist that come’s from absolutely nowhere that even M. Night Shyamalan would be proud of. A totally unique film showing London Irish life when it still dominated huge parts of London. The simple story of romance that, at first, has you failing to see what the story of the film was hiding!
Everyone I have asked has no re-collection of this film so watch it now on the YouTube link provided. The film has been uploaded from an old VHS video so the quality is not as we are use to these days but is still easily watchable and the sound is perfect. As is the way with these sort of things they have a habit of coming and going off air so if it does go down leave a comment below and we’ll try our best to fix it. That is until someone sorts out an official release which unfortunately doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any day soon.
(thanks to Øyvind Lade for sending us the link when we couldn’t find it- we had the name of the film wrong would you believe!!)
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