It was the summer of 77, nothing special in the history of mankind, but for me at 15 years of age something incredible was about to happen that would affect me to this day.
Arriving back to school after 6 glorious weeks holiday, I made my way to my first lesson, English, not one of my favourite subjects, you see I was not the neatest writer, nor was I any good at spelling, in fact if it wasn't for spell check nowadays I probably wouldn't even submit this. Any way, back to English, today was different from other English lessons, today was English Language Oral, a test on talking, and talking I was pretty damn good at, in fact you couldn't stop me once I started. I could talk the 'hind legs off a donkey' The amount of times I got into trouble talking doesn't bare thinking about, and the cainings I got in the process, well looking back I deserved them. My main problem was telling jokes and funny stories, together with my best friend Steven Burn, we were sort of a comedy duet, calling ourselves "Burn 'n' Bush" my second name been Bushby. Right, English, we were given 6 weeks to prepare for our test and the day was upon us, we had to go into a room one at a time to talk to the teacher about anything we wanted for about 10-15 minutes.
My turn inevitably came and I was summoned in, sat down, put a book on the desk that was between us and smiled.
"What's the book Colin?" The teacher said picking it up before I could answer.
"It's Tall Dark & Gruesome Miss by Christopher Lee" I said almost in sync with the teacher who by now had read the title.
"What's it about?"
Well, that was it, I was off, and nothing could stop me. I talked and talked and talked until she had to actually say.
"OK, Colin, very interesting, but I have a lot of other pupils to see today, thank you."
I don't think I even got half way through the book, stopped in my prime. But whatever I said, I honestly can't really remember now, but it earned me a GRADE 1, which was top marks.
From then on I was hooked by this relatively to me 'unknown actor' I had seen him in a few Hammer films in the double features on a Friday night, but hadn't taken much notice of him. After I read the book I was fascinated by Mr. Lee, and the fascination has never left me right up to my 40's. What did this actor have that stuck out from other people?, what made him different? I find it almost impossible to answer now why I 'picked' this actor out of everybody else to be my for use of a better word 'hero' Even today at work, I talk incisively about Mr. Lee, and my work mates keep saying things like "What is it about you and this Christopher Lee?" and "just because you met him a couple of times doesn't make you best buddy's you know" and "get a life Colin" they'll never understand me, and that's OK, it's their choice, I'm not trying to force them to like Mr. Lee, I just like talking about him.
So, English out of the way, the subject I was looking forward to was ART, oh yes, art, my all time favourite thing in the world. it's what I live for. Now the theme for my final art exam was 'Moving parts' pretty easy subject you might think, plenty of moving parts knocking about the world, well yes, but how do I get Mr. Lee involved? Since reading the book I collected anything I could on Mr. Lee, magazines, posters etc. and had drawn nearly every picture I could of him. I actually at one point cut out all the pictures of Mr. Lee I could find in all my books and stuck them all together on a 'Scrapbook' for easy access, which you may have guessed, have regretted ever since, as most of those books from the 70's are worth a small fortune today, but minus a few pictures here and there, not worth 1 iota. I wouldn't care but I cannot to this day find that bloody scrap book I made.
So what drawing could I submit for the test? I racked my brain but couldn't come up with anything, and in the end I drew 2 new superstars of that year, R2D2 and C3PO, and I actually still have it, I went back to school a few years after I left and asked if I could have my drawings back and they happily obliged. There was about 20 of Mr. lee, mainly of Dracula though. That's all you could get hold of in those days.
Then a few years later I drew a picture that has brought me and a few others including Mr. Lee a lot of happiness, the Peter Cushing one. I was in my prime then and have not done a better one since in my opinion. It was done with a biro, just a cheap bic pen nothing more, I can still recall starting it, it was the left eye I began with as in most of my drawings, don't ask why, I don't know. All those years back if somebody had said that one day that drawing would end up in Mr. Lee's private study I would have just laughed in their face. And to think that the very book I talked about would be signed by the great man himself 25 years later, it's quit amazing how things turn out.
Several years later, married with our first one on the way, we were trying to find a name for our then unborn child, if it was a boy there was no argument, it would be Christopher, and Janice didn't really mind, she liked the name, if it was a girl it would be Nicola, and not forgetting my best friend at school he became Christopher Stephen Bushby. Stephen actually just found out last year that I named my son after him, because when we left school he went to live in Canada and I lost touch, and only contacted him 20 years later through Friends-Reunited on the Internet. When I told him what I had done he became very emotional and said he and his wife had been trying for years to have a child, and at last had a son, I was over the moon for them. I found out after he was born they decide to name him.........Samuel. Hmm.
A funny thing I should mention at this point is that my brother is called Lee, and when we go to my Mothers for tea, we hear the same thing every week.
"Colin, Christopher, Lee, come and get your tea" ....I suppose you have to be there to appreciate it.
Now all this should give you some idea how I felt when I met Mr. Lee for the first time at the barbican a couple of years ago, all the emotions ran through me when he walked passed and sat down just a couple of feet away from and talked. It was as if no-one else was in the room but Mr. Lee and myself, I was totally oblivious to my surroundings, nothing else matted at that time, this was my moment, and I shall treasure it as long as I live. Then the icing on the cake happened a short while ago, I had the good fortune to meet Mr. Lee again, this time in private !. Listening to him tell jokes, tell story's and sing Opera , actually touching elbows, well, you could have knocked me over with a feather, what more could you ask for in life ?
Thank you Mr. Lee