Colin Gerrard is just as carefree as described, sitting at the small table we’d arranged to meet at. He’s chosen this quiet café, a secret to just about everyone, and he seemed to somehow belong here. A man out of place and time, and yet not at all. He smiles easily, comfortable with everyone, and over a cup of – what else? – English tea, invites me to ask him anything in the world.
What an invitation.
It is an honor to be given such a rare opportunity to peer into the life of this man. This man who seems to know everything and everyone, and yet we know so little about personally has finally given us the chance to learn more. So to begin, I decided to start with what we do know, his reputation.
Colin, you have such a magnetic personality that draws (most) people to you, particularly women. How did you develop your charm? Why do you think it works so well?
C: Thank you very much, you’re very kind. Well, it certainly hasn’t been easy. It takes a lifetime, you see. Charm is not something that can be purely taught. It must be inherent, and then cultivated carefully. I’ve always been somewhat of a charmer, but trial and error have guided me to the glorious persona I now am. Why does it work? Because everybody, men and women, enjoys being charmed. Sincerely charmed, mind you. False charm is a terrible crime. Thankfully, I am always sincerely charming.
And is the Colin we know and love the same Colin seen behind closed doors?
C: I should hope so. Well, I suppose I should say mostly. Who of any of us is purely ourselves in the public scope? There may be some parts of me that surprise others, but that would be the nature of getting better acquainted, would it not? I believe in integrity of character and being true to one’s self. If you are being honest with yourself. Which I have not always been. Was that a contradiction? I suppose so… which, ironically, seems to be true to my character.
Who do you look up to most in your friend-set? Have any of them inspired your way of living?
C: (laughs) My friends… Do they inspire my way of living? They are undoubtedly the reasons for it. One of us had to be likable, after all, or nobody would have anything to do with us. No, in all seriousness, they are rare men. I am constantly surprised that they are friends with me. And as much of a frustration as this may be, I would have to say that I look up to each of them for different things and in different ways. I doubt any of them look up to me, in truth, but I hope one day to be such a man to them.
What in your opinion, what is your greatest achievement to date?
C: Being alive, honestly. It sounds trite, but with all the cards I had stacked against me, and with all the trouble I’ve caused, it’s a miracle to have survived. Well, I do have one other achievement that may supercede my own life, but that would spoil the book, and we must have curious readers.
What is something that no one knows about Colin Gerrard?
C: I only have four toes on my left foot. No, that’s not true, I’m perfectly balanced. No one, eh? Hmm. I happen to despise mint jelly. Can’t abide the stuff. Such a nasty aftertaste. What a perverse idea, who thought of that?
As I understand it, Tom Hiddleston will be portraying you in your book. How do you feel about that?
C: Oh, it’s an absolutely brilliant choice. Tom is a marvelous man, and a brilliant artist. Do you know, I think he may actually be more charming than I am? And have you seen his portrayal of Prince Hal and King Henry V? That man has a gift, I tell you. And if he is good enough to play Shakespeare that well, he is absolutely good enough to play Colin Gerrard. It’s roughly the same anyway. Don’t you all have some major awards for arts in cinema that he ought to be given? Good lord, the man could have written that Shakespeare stuff. Right, no, I approve of Tom. Good chap.
How do you feel about having your life stories out there for people to read?
C: Well, it’s just brilliant, isn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to read about me? At the very least, I have a mysterious brother, a twin at that, and anything surrounding Kit certainly is worth gossiping about. I’ll admit to being a trifle self-conscious, or perhaps self-aware, being fully cognizant of the fact that I am, in fact, human, and make mistakes. I only hope that my mistakes do not lessen me in the sight of others, as I fully intend to grow from them. Both mistakes, I mean. I count two of them…
Speaking of Kit, will we see more of him and you together?
C: After this or in this book? I suppose the answer to either question is yes, isn’t it? We’re seeing so much about Kit, it might as well be called “Kit Gerrard and his Younger Brother’s Antics,” but I suppose that title wouldn’t do much for the market.
Do you two rely on each other for support?
C: Oh, absolutely. I know it may not be the same for all siblings, but Kit and I have been through a great deal together. We practically raised ourselves, and after what I went through at a fairly tender age, I had a great need for him, and he was always there. He pulled me through, sometimes quite literally. He might not be like me in temperament and nature, but I think, perhaps, he is the more mature version of me. Less humorous, less charming, but mature and wise. And terribly loyal, come to find. I haven’t the faintest idea what he finds in me, apart from comic relief, but there it is.
What were you two like as children? Did the phrase “boys will be boys” apply to you two?
C: That particular phrase only applied to us for the first year of our lives. The rest of the time, we defied categorization or phrases. We were right terrors, I’ll tell you that much. Always into mischief and scrapes, and Kit would have my head if he knew I lumped him into this, but he wasn’t always mature. I got him into the worst sort of messes! But he is the smart one, so he always got us out. Well, almost always.
Does a particular scrape come to mind that you could share?
C: Oh, Lord… How much time do we have? Let’s see… We were home from school around age nine or so, and by home I mean Seabrook with Aunt Agatha, and we’d had enough of her restrictions on our volume and activities, and we were so bored… So I said to Kit, ‘Let’s see how fast the footmen can run!’ And he said, ‘Don’t be stupid!’ Which he said a lot, usually without reason. So. I picked up Aunt Agatha’s second best walking stick, the one shaped like the fire brand, not that you know which one that is, and I yelled like a banshee down the corridor just outside of the dining room. She always had two footmen standing there, no idea why, and I screamed past them, hitting both of them on both shins as I went. Well, footmen aren’t statues, so they yelped and took up the chase. So I’m running around the house, which was rather large, they are chasing, their comrades have joined in, and suddenly all five of them were flat on the ground because Kit, in all the commotion, had strung up a roll of Agatha’s embroidery thread and made a tripwire. Then he and I raced out of the house, knowing we had finally done it this time, and we buried Agatha’s walking stick behind the stables. Where we were sure we would also be buried shortly. As it happens, footmen can run very fast. But I am faster.
So tell us about your father, what was he like?
C: (crosses self, spits over shoulder) Next question.
…Um, you grew up with Susannah, yes? Tell us about her, if you will.
C: Oh, now this one could take some time. You may want another cup of cocoa, settle in. Susannah was a ray of sunshine. All the time. She had this… well, she had this smile, not that she doesn’t have it now, I assure you she smiles perfectly, but then… Even for one as charming and fluent as I am in the English language, there simply aren’t words for what that smile was capable of, and what it made me feel. We were nigh on instant friends, but there was also something magical about her. No one has ever made me feel quite what she did, even before I was old enough for certain emotions to come into my awareness. I firmly believe that I was always destined to love her on some level, if not many. She is clever, she’s delightful, she isn’t afraid to let me know when I’ve been a bit of an idiot, and I can only be grateful that she never got Kit and I confused, because if he’d got her and not me, I would have been utterly wasted for the rest of my life. That sounded so mawkish, didn’t it? I do apologize, dunno what’s come over me. Read the book, everyone, and you’ll see what I mean about her. Ugh, what is the phrase you all say? “I cannot”?
Awww! When did you first realize you were in love with her?
C: Don’t make me get emotional, now. Let me see. I was fifteen. We had just finished a mad dash on the green, and she had run so fast and so hard that she tumbled to the ground, and she was laughing hysterically about it. Breathless and hysterical, demanding a rematch, as I won. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she had, in fact, won. I was too struck by the light in her eyes, the color of her cheeks, the sound of her laughing as she ran, and then to see her on the ground, laughing and delirious, not a care in the world… I loved that girl from that moment on. I’ll never forget that day, or that girl on the grass, as long as I live.
Do you have any relationship advice?
C: I’m not at all the right person to ask, but I’ll give it a go. 1. Run after the girl. Geoffrey had to learn that one. 2. Don’t waste time mucking about. Poor Duncan nearly lost his girl with that. 3. Take the grand adventure, even if it’s mad. 4. Don’t marry a shrew. I think we can all appreciate that for what it’s worth. 5. No secrets. Take it from me, there is nothing worse than holding something back, than not properly communicating with the one you love, than not having complete trust and fidelity and loyalty. There are two people in the relationship, and both must be active and invested, and working together. Also I can always recommend secluded spots in parks, behind buildings, abandoned closets… Seize the moment when it comes, and all that. But be mindful. Reputations are a tricky affair. I should know. I have four.
Excellent, ok one last question. Do you have a celebrity crush?
C: Julie Andrews. The end, that’s it, it does not get any better.
Off the record, we talked about spoilers and other topics, just chatting like old friends, and I discovered something incredible: Although it is easy to believe otherwise, Colin Gerrard is just as human as we are. I couldn’t have spent my afternoon in a better way. Colin is just as amusing and witty as they say, but I think he also revealed a deep and caring side that isn’t always so clear to others. He clearly respects and loves those who are in his life, with the exception of his father, and privately he helped me understand why. It’s a good reason. As we parted ways, he shook my hand, kissed it with all the gallant air I’d heard about, and gave me that charming Colin smile. “Don’t share all my secrets, dear,” he told me. “Leave something to the imagination.”
So I will.
Imaginations, go wild.