And so, here we are, exactly 40 years on from 19th August 1979 – the day Mary Millington died. Because she has influenced so much of my adult life and career, people regularly ask me “Did you meet her?” or “What was she like?” but of course, I never did. I was just a small child back then, growing up in the West Country. ‘Mary Millington’ was a name I’d seen on garish cinema posters on the front of the ABC cinema in Kings Square, Gloucester, but Mary’s life was about as far removed from my own childhood as I can possibly imagine.
I was far too young to keep a diary back then, and I’ve often pondered exactly what I was doing that fateful morning when she lost her life. Then, earlier this year, my father miraculously found a drawing I’d done as a child – one of only a handful that survive. It shows a plane flying high over streets lined with dozens of tiny houses. My father (who was a pilot) wrote on the picture “Simon’s first trip in an aircraft” and a date “19th August 1979”. I was astonished by the picture, as it pin-pointed me to an exact time in my young life – a significant day for me.
Mary has had such a profound impact on my life. I never knew her, but I feel as though I do. I’ve interviewed her friends and family – they are now part of my life. I’ve written books on her, made a movie about her life and now I’m embarking on what will, probably, be my final love letter to her – the upcoming Blu-ray box-set release of her movies.
No, I never met Mary Millington. But she changed my life. I probably wouldn’t be a writer or filmmaker without her inspiring me. Thank you, Mary. For everything.
All words © Simon Sheridan 2019