Wednesday, 31 December 2014
Except in my capacity as chair of the Academy Awards Prizes Committee I rarely watch movies. Yesterday, however, surfeited with festive food, I was to be found recumbent in an armchair in the vicinity of a television receiver, the remote control for which was inconveniently beyond my grasp. As a result I was subjected to a broadcast of 'The Hoarse Whisperer', a film in which the lead is played by my one-time student Robert Redford. I was suffering at the time from that itinerant mental condition, a wandering attention, so I cannot be sure that I understood entirely the plot of the film, but I gathered that its central character was a man who could calm highly strung animals through the soporific qualities of his voice. I can quite understand why Redford was cast for the part, given his mumbling incoherent speech patterns. Whether hoarse whisperers really can exercise such powers over animals I cannot say for certain, but I am willing to believe it, as I was fast asleep myself before the first adverts.