Earlier this year we lost Roger Moore, he died at the age of 89 after a short but courageous battle with cancer, and although I didn't personally know the man I was genuinely hurt. I'd lost someone who mattered to me - he was my hero and I was beset with grief. He'd been a big part of my life - I'd worshipped him as a child; following his incredibly colourful adventures in The Persuaders and then later discovering the re-runs of The Saint. Later still he became screen royalty when he took over the role of James Bond. This was the man I wanted to be and I bowed down before the brilliance of his Rogesty
Moore filled my formative years with glamour and adventure - I was 8 years old when he first became James Bond, and 20 when he retired his licence to kill. Think of that for a moment - For much of my life, for my entire teenage years, Roger Moore was THE ACTION HERO - of course screen heroes were plentiful but Moore was unique in his sartorial elegance, his charm and his wicked, often boyish sense of humour. Such was my worship of the man that he became a role model to me, and I'd practise raising one eyebrow and then the other until my forehead was left with permanent creases. I kid you not - I still have the creases caused by a young boy gazing up at the silver screen and dreaming of being just like his Rogesty.
In the 2014 paperback reissue of the The Saint in New York, I wrote, It was Roger Moore, you know, who gave me my first experience with that debonair, buccaneering gentleman we know as the Saint. Those TV episodes, although broadcast in black and white, were likely the most colourful thing in my young life...
And I stand by those words - and when series editor, Ian Dickerson offered me the chance to write the foreword to the new edition I jumped at the chance, for I was a lifelong fan of the series but I knew that my foreword would not only praise the incredible works of Leslie Charteris but would be equally an admiration of his Rogesty himself.
Now as I said I'd never met Moore but I did meet his one time wife, the Welsh singer Dorothy Squires. In the 1990's she was living in the Rhondda town of Trebanog, which was just down the road from where I was living at the time - indeed when Squires died in 1998 at the age of 83 it was in Llwynapia hospital, which was actually the hospital where I was born. When I met Squires she was an elderly lady and although her break-up with Moore had been acrimonious she never had a bad word to say about him. And I cherish the memories of the several conversations I had with the singer,who at the time was sadly penniless and living a reclusive life. While she had been largely forgotten, Moore was still a superstar but she wasn't bitter, at least not openly, and when I brought up the subject of Roger Moore I detected a wistful look in her eye.
I have that same wistful look now when I remember Roger Moore - of course he's not dead to me. Only yesterday I watched an old episode of The Saint on television, and whenever the mood takes me I can watch one or other of his James Bond movie. People like Roger Moore don't die in the conventional sense, for their work is always there and no doubt will continue to inspire and entertain for years to come.
And so I raise an eyebrow, as well as a glass, to his Rogesty with thanks for all the entertainment.