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Tales of our Time: why it really is love, actually

Michael Hayman | 9 September 2021

‘You read it better than Hugh.’ Words for my epitaph. Words from the film maker and human rights campaigner Richard Curtis. To explain, it’s love, actually. No, it really is Love Actually and I was reading out Hugh Grant’s legendary opening voiceover, featuring the arrivals gate at Heathrow. The spine-tingling feel-good… wait for it… ‘If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.’

For a moment my mind is filled with delusions of grandeur: the musical score of Wet Wet Wet, a glittering future of Oscar red carpets and unforgettable scenes of silver screen splendour. Luckily, for all concerned, it is a very brief moment. But moments, and how we use them, it turns out, is also very much what Richard is about. His tip for life is that ‘to make things happen, you have to make things’. They’re good words to live by. No matter how overwhelming things might seem, we can all make a difference with the choices we make.

It’s one of the reasons that he created Make My Money Matter, a campaign to ensure that your pension is invested in things that make you proud – one that builds a healthy planet as well as delivering healthy returns.

‘What’s the point in retiring in a world on fire?’ is the very good question posed and the action you can take is to demand that fossil fuels, tobacco, and arms are not propping up your future. Turns out your pension could change the world.

While Curtis is one of the world’s most distinguished movie makers it is his activism that increasingly defines him. He co-founded the charities Comic Relief, Make Poverty History, the Live 8 concerts alongside Sir Bob Geldof, and latterly the Forest For Change exhibition at Somerset House.

He offers me another tip. This time that ‘you can’t be happier than happy’ and it’s the statement that helps to understand his positivity in general and belief in particular that we can all be extraordinary. It’s more possible now, he says, because ‘we live in an age where people are opening up more’. To do this requires us to commit to ‘just do stuff’ and to enjoy what gives us the human touch: the emotion, the passion and the feeling and that allows us to relish the moment. This is actually what he means by love.

But in agreeing with this, alas, I feel it in my fingers and I feel it in my toes, that he was wrong about Hugh. 


This piece by Michael Hayman originally appeared in Country & Town House September/October 2021.

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