In the early autumn of 1983, I flew from Winnipeg to London—via Toronto and Amsterdam. On the main leg of the flight, through in-flight entertainment, I repeatedly listened to a couple of songs by Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits) from his soundtrack for the new movie, Local Hero. One of the songs was “Going Home,” the last song on the album, which I fell in love with. So brooding and then celebratory, not even counting the fact that I love guitar. Once I settled in England, for a year of college, I was eager to see the movie, too, although it was nearing the end of its run and might soon disappear. One Sunday, on a day trip into London, I noticed that the movie was showing in a particular theatre, one that I vaguely remember was a little west of St. Paul’s Cathedral. After a day of sightseeing, I bought a ticket for the theatre’s last showing of the night. I was the only person in the entire theatre, and watched it with utter absorption and delight. I connected with the droll humour, the love of nature, the contrast between tradition and progress. Though I’m originally British, and grew up there (and in Ghana and Australia), I had become a Canadian citizen and lost my British accent. Here I was a North American in England, feeling waves of nostalgia for Great Britain—as did the main character at the end of the movie. I think now of the Bashō haiku, where he said “even in Kyoto, I long for Kyoto.” The soundtrack caught every ounce of that feeling, especially with the final song, and all the Celtic-influenced songs before that. I remember watching the movie right to the very end of the credits, the projectionist no doubt wishing I’d leave so he could go home. When the credits finished, and with my heart filled with a renewed love of my birth country, I looked up to the projection booth and saw the projectionist there. I waved in thanks and he smiled. Local Hero had just become my all-time favourite movie, and it still is. I walked out of the theatre, the lonely quiet city pulsing with late-night longing.
the last train home
in a gentle rain