Michael Portillo - Death of a School Friend.avi (Size: 460.32 MB) (Files: 1)
Michael Portillo - Death of a School Friend.avi
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Michael Portillo: Death of a School Friend
Friday 7 November 2008
9:00 - 10:00pm
It's hard to imagine the agonies Jeanette and Ronnie Findon have gone through since their son Gary
committed suicide in June 1969, a few days short of his 16th birthday. But this poignant film gives us
some idea of the long shadow a teenage suicide casts across a family.
Gary was a bright, musically talented 15-year-old whose schoolfriends happened to include Michael
Portillo, Clive Anderson and comedy producer Geoffrey Perkins, all of whom recall him fondly.
(Perkins's contribution was recorded before his death earlier this year.)
Portillo does a sensitive job of presenting the film, which paints a moving picture of a life destroyed by
undiagnosed depression, and conjures up a vanished world where shocks were absorbed differently,
without recourse to counselling, and emotions left unspoken.
We see haunting home movies, Gary's tormented letters to his girlfriend and the note he left urging
his parents, "Don't be sad." But most touching of all are Jeanette's clear-eyed memories of the time
around his death and the day she stumbled on his last note.
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