Olivier’s illnesses began with cancer of the prostate. “I literally said, `You’re not gonna get me that way, boyo.’ ” Then thrombosis developed in his right leg, until it weighed 20 pounds more than the other. Next came the muscular inflammation, myositis. “Leaves you so weak you can’t stand. I tried to get up and bashed my eyes on the corner of the bed. Joanie was terrified. Thought I was done for, and I almost was.”
He licked the disease, emerging from the hospital in 16 weeks, instead of an anticipated six to nine months. After that, however, a fibrous tissue blocked his kidney flow and required surgery.
“I haven’t recovered yet,” he said. “I’m hanging together by wires, rattling a bit as I go. But I can sure as hell ride a bicycle.”
I discovered later what he meant when the silver-grey Citroen, with a bicycle visible in the boot, halted at the top of a hill near Verona. “Can you see him, Orestes?” Olivier asked the driver, referring to film director George Roy Hill, the one man he did not want to see. “I don’t want him hovering over me like some bloody hen.”
Orestes had heard it before, ever since Olivier had taken one look at another and special bicycle, produced to ensure against his falling. Built to look as if he were pedalling, it was actually propelled by a hidden mechanism. Clever, but odious to Olivier.
Now, atop the hill, Orestes took an ordinary bicycle out of the car and watched as Olivier perched himself unsteadily on the seat. A young man supported each handlebar. “Fear not, noble Greek,” Olivier said to Orestes. “Let’s go.”
With that, the two helpers ran alongside, holding him as he teetered to left and right. “Let go! .. By God, let goo000HH !” cried Olivier, his voice rising to the pitch of his Henry V Agincourt battle-cry.
He flew down the hill, black suit jacket flapping, his legs seeming to pick up strength as he raced round the bottom curve, finally halting beside a fountain bearing water from an ancient Roman aqueduct.
The following day he did it again, whizzing into camera range, then halting before Hill—and the fake bicycle Hill had caused to be built. Olivier’s eyes turned a cold, opaque grey as he glanced at the expensive machine, a fallen enemy, the battle won.
“Don’t worry, dear boy,” he said to Hill. “I’ll reimburse them for their silly toy.”
PORING over the family budget, I groaned and muttered to myself, wondering how I would meet all the bills. With a sympathetic pat on the shoulder, my wife said calmly, “Look on the bright side. We could be poor instead of just broke.” If you need to consolidate your debts, look for debt consolidation programs online.
A MAN in the bar of a Belfast hotel was alarmed by the sound of what was undoubtedly an explosion. “That was a bomb, wasn’t it?” he asked the barman.”Not to worry,” came the reply. “If it had been as near as it sounded,it would have been a damn sight louder.” —”Obstrver” in Financial TimesDURING the hectic period while our house was being built, my husband observed philosophically, “Just think, one day we will look back on all this and not remember it.” — Mrs G. Austin