50 years ago today I was 7 and a half years old.
My memories of childhood are hazy with one or two sharp points where I can recall events in startling detail.
One was when our dog Spot arrived from the dog’s home. Spot was a massive black Labrador who was so excited to meet us his wagging tail hitting our little legs was like being thrashed by a Dickensian schoolmaster.
The other very clear memory was coming home from school and witnessing my mum crying.
My mum didn’t cry very often. In fact I can only remember her crying three times.
November 22nd 1963, January 1965, the day Churchill died and once more in 1972 when my brother got back on a motorbike after recovering from a truly life threatening bike crash. (He rode very fast, got off and said ‘never again.’)
The reason she was crying 50 years ago today was because of the Kennedy assassination. Obviously I didn’t understand, I was just a kid concerned for his mum, but it made a mark on me.
Many, many years later and I’m covered in rubber and plastic making series 7 of Red Dwarf, specifically Tikka to Ride where the crew of the small rouge one use a matter paddle to transport themselves back to the 20th century to get Lister a really hot curry.
They accidentally land in Dallas in 1963, in the Book Depository and knock Lee Harvey Oswald out of the window, thus changing history.
While we were shooting this episode, the production crew had an amazing coffee table sized book that was released around that time.
I have no idea what it was called but it absorbed me for hours between takes.
The book contained all the conspiracy theories about the assassination, some truly gruesome photographs of the President’s corpse.
One of the spookier aspects were tales of people who were in the operating room where attempts were made to save Kennedy’s life.
Very many of them ‘died’ within a year of the assassination, car crashes, suicide, cancer. I haven’t used inverted commas on those reasons for death for the very simple reason that I’ve never been interested in conspiracy theories.
However, I’ll say this, if there’s been one event during my life where the official story stinks to high heaven, it’s what took place on Dealy Plaza.
I’ll never believe the lone gunmen theory.
Sadly, unless there are freaky medical breakthroughs, I won’t be around in another 50 years to finally find out who shot Kennedy.
The reports, films, photographs and recordings of the moment are being kept secret until 2063.
In many ways Red Dwarf’s Tikka to Ride was as good an explanation as any, the President travelled through time with a bunch of space bums looking for a curry, and shot himself from the grassy knoll