Jamie Cullum attempts to connect with an old-timer.
It’s 7pm on Radio 2 (7 September) and Jamie Cullum is on his way to interview Clint Eastwood at the Warner Brothers lot. “We’re in the studios now. There are parking spaces saying things like ‘Cary Grant’. This really feels like the movies!” Jamie pulls over and gets out, followed by the sound of people greeting each other. One voice is unmistakably Clint – simultaneously manly and reedy. Someone reminds him to turn off his mobile.
“Do I have a cellphone?” asks Clint. It sounds like he’d really like to know. “Fats Waller,” he starts, after a moment. “My mother turned me on to him. Honeysuckle Rose. Dixieland. The Forties. Thelonious Monk. Coltrane, he introduced intellectualism into jazz . . .”
In this way Clint strides about the decades like the BFG – whole eras, whole movements in the art form brushed aside, transmitting an awesomely weather-beaten creativity. Cullum keeps looking for new ways to connect, occasionally blurting things out like a person playing Operation.
“The Black Hawk club,” Clint is saying. “I’d go and lie about my age and get a whiskey sour.”
“I’m still lying about my age!” yelps Jamie. Clint laughs back: “You’ll be lying about your age for a long time to come, boy.”
“Shelly’s Manne-Hole, did you go there?” asks Jamie, determined to give some shape to all this.
“Ya. That came later.”
“Was it a small club?”
“I love Shelly.”
“Ya, he was great.” God, Clint sounds old.
In the picture on the website he’s wearing a Florida-yellow bowling shirt and wipeable tan pants, belted right up high. Oh, Clint. Where now are your magnificent American thighs? Never had a good bum, though. Him and James Coburn, worst bums in Hollywood. Too soon, the interview was done.
“Can I get you to say three things?” asks Jamie, a little nervously. “Can you say: ‘I’m Clint Eastwood and you’re listening to BBC Radio 2 with Jamie Cullum’?”
“OK,” shrugs Clint. “I’m Jamie Cullum and this is BBC2. BBC Radio 2. I’m Clint Eastwood on BBC2. Radio BBC.”
“Erm,” says Jamie.
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