I once, briefly, met actor and national treasure Robert Hardy. He died today, and the first thing I thought of was the fact that his booming voice has been silenced.
I grew up watching All Creatures Great and Small, and my friend and I enjoyed it so much that we used to “play vets” – she would be the vet, I’d assume a (I’m fairly sure, utterly dreadful) Yorkshire accent, and it was “Cow’s got them mastics, vet’n’ry!” all the way.
Hardy became an expert on longbows, apparently a side effect of playing Henry V. He did a lot of work with the Mary Rose Trust – Henry VIII’s favourite ship contains the oldest surviving English longbows.
At one point, my dad used to work for the Mary Rose Trust. I had to go to his office at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard one day after school. I remember standing at the top of the stairs, staring about awkwardly at the Royal Naval-issue paintjob: matt duck-egg blue above and dark gloss navy blue on the lower half of the walls.
I saw a car pull up outside. I seem to recall that it was a Jaguar – possibly burgundy, or gold, but I do remember its distinctive personalised number-plate:
Being a teenager, I laughed and pointed. That is, until I saw the driver get out.
It was Robert Hardy.