Last week Nick Sutherland-Dodd called me up.
Nick was Paul Arden’s partner in their production company.
Nick asked me if I wanted to see a hologram of Paul.
Twenty years ago, Paul had started the ‘Saatchi New Director’s Showcase’ at Cannes.
This being the anniversary, they thought Paul should speak at it.
So, in the spirit of ‘Nothing is impossible’ that’s what they’d done.
Made a hologram of Paul.
They’d used his head from some interview footage.
They’d used a body-double dressed in Paul’s clothes.
They’d got an impersonator to study Paul’s speech.
Then they’d put it all together into a three minute, lifesize hologram.
They wanted it to introduce the show in Cannes.
And they were having a preview to a small audience.
I met Paul’s widow, Toni, and his son, Christian, beforehand.
Together with Nick and Anthony Taylor, Paul’s producer, we went along to the viewing theatre.
We sat in a room with a stage at one end.
They turned out the lights and we waited.
Then Paul Arden walked onto the stage in front of us.
Being Paul, he didn’t speak at first.
He just smiled nervously.
Then he looked around and squinted at the bright lights.
He coughed, and eventually began to speak.
He said, “Well. I’m glad to see Saatchi’s New Directors Showcase is still alive and well.
Then he gave a slight laugh.
Then he carried on talking for another few minutes.
And finished by saying, “Well. I’ll see you all around someday. Somewhere.”
The he morphed into a cloud, and dispersed into a million tiny pieces.
We sat there for a while.
If you didn’t know Paul it probably wouldn’t have affected you much.
It was just a bloke on stage, talking.
But we did know Paul.
He’s been dead for two years.
And he was on stage talking.
I’d never seen a proper hologram before.
Not one that was absolutely real.
Just the sort of dodgy old Princess Leia projected from R2D2.
But this was amazing.
Right down to the bad taste joke.
Which was exactly what Paul would have loved.
In fact it was all exactly as Paul would have loved.
Afterwards I told my daughter about it.
She laughed, and laughed.
She said, “Dad, that is so Paul, even when he’s dead no one can beat him.
He can still do things you’ve never seen before.
He can still do things before anyone else. He can still surprise you.
He can still do the unexpected, even when he’s dead.”
Yup, Paul would have loved it.