His Own Person, His Own Choice

A man’s body was found in a flat in Croft Road
in Hastings Old Town, Sussex.

“Out, out, brief candle!”

It was found on December 28th, 2012
after family and friends became concerned.

“And then is heard no more:”

He was a popular actor in the nineteen seventies
and worked continuously, but declined
several roles that would have
added to his popularity.
He probably saw the James Bond offer
as a gilded trap full of sequential pop.
He wanted to avoid the type of celebrity
that would rob him of his privacy.
For 20 years, until 2005,
the year of his final film,
parts were intermittent; supporting, or guest roles.

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time.”

Brilliance does not mean that you have to shine.
The magic rhythm is either within you, or not.
He didn’t milksop his way into acting,
but came via the Parachute Regiment and the SAS.
His jolt of adrenalin came from racing cars
and parachute jumping.
He gave them up to concentrate on acting,
but never lost the memory of their spark.

“I have almost forgot the taste of fears; . . .”

A dark-eyed, black-haired, handsome man
with a certain acting talent which
should have included Hamlet and Lear,
along with his Macbeth, Richard II and Henry IV.
I suspect that his ability with tortured thought
would have given stellar performances.
His clarity of interpretation, sense of drama,
and full-toned speech, were proof of his skill.
He was also able to mimic, with that connection
between ear, brain, and vocal cords,
which gives precise translations.
But he did not fulfil his potential,
by his own choice.

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, . . .“

Such small insights as we have
came from an ex-partner.
That he was unusual, eccentric, warm,
funny and true to himself.
Also, a quiet and private person
who did not like all the media attention
which was associated with acting.
He enjoyed being an actor for what it was.

“. . . It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, . . .”

He had said himself that
he never wanted to be a big star,
but usually did one film a year,
so he always had enough money
to enjoy himself and to
keep out of the public eye.
That gave him a very pleasant life,
but not one of great ambition.
He regarded his acting talent
as a job, not a calling,
and was content to use it
to finance his other activities.

“And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death . . .”

His diabetes, diagnosed in 1979,
had intruded cruelly upon his life,
preventing a racing driver licence.
But he was grateful for the insulin
that helped to check its effects.
However, too much alcohol and diabetes
do not mix at all well.
Near the end he was suffering confusion
and possibly dementia.

“I have supp’d full with horrors.”

His pub friends in the Old Town
probably didn’t know that
“Old Finchy” was once a gifted actor
with a particular talent for Shakespeare,
recorded and held for our appreciation.
And I cannot say that those films are—

“Signifying nothing.”

Jon Finch, actor. 1942–2012