I’m sure if I could unlock the source of my attraction to shambolic rogues, all of my life would fall neatly into some kind of logical coherence, my mind would be suffused with peace and tranquility and doubtless my days would be filled with a calm success and fulfillment.
But I doubt that’ll ever happen.
From an early age I can remember being drawn to these wild and unpredictable characters who are likely to cause trouble, wreak havoc, drink to excess and feed all their appetites to excess. Of course I also wanted to be Jim West from Wild Wild West, too. Surely a certain amount of the attraction is wanting to be like that myself. To care for no one, scoff at any rule and devil take the hindmost — it certainly appeals to a young person who feels as if she meets resistance in every direction.
I should say my weakness for these trouble makers is almost entirely in fiction; in real life (at least since I got over my wild years) I like responsible and thoughtful men who are passionate, sweet and funny.
But fictional rogues have an indelible appeal that surely has something to do with vicarious enjoyment. Some of my favourite rogues:
If you look up rogue in a dictionary chances are there’s a picture of Ollie. Whether he’s playing the wounded Musketeer Athos, the wild Uncle Frank, a werewolf or simply rolling around naked with Alan Bates (yes, please), he’s just so wonderfully irresistible. He doesn’t fit the traditional view of ‘good looks’ but there’s something devilish in his grin and those eyes that works anyway.
My favourite drummer comes from a fairly shambolic band, The Who — or as they’re known to their fans, The ‘orrible ‘oo. There is not nor will there be another drummer like him. He played like a madman possessed. He lived like there was no tomorrow and eventually there wasn’t, but he made amazing music, created legends of mad behaviour and hung out with fellow rogue Oliver Reed committing further havoc. Wonderful.
As long as we’re on musicians, who better than the pope of the new Irish lyricism? Legendary drinker supreme, kicked out of his own band the Pogues and replaced with Joe Strummer, he has survived despite every one’s expectations that he was at death’s door — and has even returned to front the band once more. He writes lyrics that will continue to be sung as long as there are voices to be raised. I couldn’t pick one favourite, but this one’s right up there.
And speaking of poetry, there’s Wales’ most famous son who drank himself to death at the tender age of 39, yet left poems, stories and even a play that will live on forever. He had the most amazing voice, one that continues to resonate across our culture.
Who else? Ash in the Evil Dead films, especially the third one — and Bruce also plays rogues in Xena and Jack of All Trades; Wilmore in Aphra Behn’s The Rover, most of Evelyn Waugh and Kingsley Amis’ characters — who wouldn’t love Lucky Jim? Or how about Han Solo — or his alter ego, Indiana Jones?
Who are your favourite rogues?