I had moved from Belfast via Manchester to my third BHS store. Irene moved from the north-east of England to the same store at the beginning of 1977. It was a fairly tough store because the manager was old-school and ran the place pretty strictly but it was also a great place for camaraderie. Most of the managers were young, in their early 20s, so the banter made it fun, or at least balanced out the manager's sometimes real but often theatrical menace.
In those days, the management team gathered around one of the shop floor counters for the morning mail meeting. Invariably, it was the men's underwear counter where, if romantic licence is allowed, our eyes met. Yes, dear reader, a real brief encounter!
Any way, I plucked up the courage to ask Irene if she wanted to go to the pictures. In fact, because of a hard and fast company rule not to allow any fraternisation amongst managers, I believe I passed her a hastily scribbled note on the stairs. She said yes and I took her to see One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, starring, birthday boy, Jack Nicholson.
I loved the film and I still do. It is in my list of all-time favourites but my girlfriend (calling her that after just one date stretches a point, but hey-ho) hated it and especially Jack. She didn't take to him at all and to this day, forty years on, she recoils at any suggestion to watch a Nicholson film.
But, onward to the next week and my next invitation to her to go to the cinema. This time it was Rocky, starring Sylvester Stallone and, if Jack got fairly scathing comments, Sly came off a lot worse. His often mumbly, mouthful-of-marbles, street-smart delivery of some of the lines made Irene's nostrils flair and eyes roll. Stallone was given a big thumbs down. You could say Rocky failed to pack a punch. I liked the film with its fairytale plot but my companion was not impressed. I don't think we've watched a Stallone movie together since.
Back to Jack. Happy 80th birthday. It has been a pleasure watching your wonderful work over the years. Randall Patrick McMurphy, Romford and romance. Fond memories.
Jack Nicholson is one of the greatest screen actors ever and his CV is remarkable. Here's a link to his amazing IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000197/?ref_=nv_sr_1