- My trip to Monocle’s The Chiefs conference in St Moritz came with one downside: a period of quarantine back in the UK that is thankfully drawing to a close. But to get through the evenings there has been a film every night and, for the past few days, we’ve been having a Hitchcock festival. Vertigo might be regarded as one of the greatest movies ever made but it has not aged as well as, say, North by Northwest (Cary Grant has you rethinking your wardrobe: he is a triumphant symphony of marled and tactile grey fabrics and, even in the final scenes where the baddies are scrambling over Mount Rushmore, they do so in suits and nice loafers that never get scuffed).
However, Rear Window is, so far, in the top spot. It’s a movie for the times: James Stewart stuck in his apartment with his broken leg, observing the lives unfolding through neighbours’ rear windows. And although there’s a murder, it’s the passing frames of love lives, loneliness and creativity that make up most of the film. I am sure that there could be a good coronavirus-lockdown remake – except this time you wouldn’t be allowed to leave the house to investigate the murder unless you were also buying essential food, and most of the snatched scenes would be of bread being baked, people struggling with their wi-fi router, and, perhaps, someone watching yet another Hitchcock movie.
And clearly I need to watch the Toy Story movies too. Last week I wrote about the high-speed, schnitzel-loving hedgehog that we spotted at a Bavarian Biergarten during our team meet-up in that quarantine-free nation. I wondered whether he had any lederhosen. Well, a reader – let’s call her Verity (because that’s her name and to call her anything else would be most confusing) – wrote to say that in Toy Story there’s a lederhosen-sporting hedgehog called Mr Pricklepants! She even sent me his picture: his super-short lederhosen are perhaps more male stripper than traditional Tracht. But now I am wondering, was that Mr Pricklepants in Munich? Perhaps he was back home in Bavaria having been furloughed from his acting career. I feel bad for not recognising him.
Sometimes when you get talking to readers at events, they quiz you about how a tight team manages to run so many projects, produce content for radio, books, magazines and more and still have time to look so dashing (OK, the last bit is what I’m sure they will ask when I get my Cary Grant makeover). At The Chiefs, someone asked me what software I use to track everything and whether I would be willing to reveal its name? I seem to remember looking around the room for a way of diverting the conversation – where’s old Pricklepants when you need him? Truth is that I have Post-it note dependency. Big time. Lists are made and redrafted with a pecking order of tasks and missions from immediate to long-term that has a logic only I can decipher – and I can leave them anywhere without fear of snooping as my handwriting would mystify a hieroglyph-cracking Egyptologist.
This week supplies ran low. Very low. I knew that there must have been some in the house. Drawers were rummaged through. Pockets searched. Finally, after turning the place upside down, there in my Chiefs bag I found a pack. I hope that nobody was watching the scene of panic and mayhem through my rear window – they would have imagined that something really, really bad was unfolding. Perhaps we should leave the Hitchcock remake to one side for now. I am not sure these modern stresses and stationery scares would make for great viewing. Unless we renamed it Thriller in Manila.