[Firth] mentioned a famous television interview in which the British playwright Dennis Potter, dying of cancer, marveled at the flower he could see from his window. “It is the whitest, frothiest blossomest blossom that there ever could be,” Mr. Potter said then. “Things are both more trivial than they ever were, and more important than they ever were.”
The interview, with Melvyn Bragg, aired in April 1994, several months after Potter was diagnosed and several months before he died. Here’s the original quote,
Below my window in Ross, when I’m working in Ross, for example, there at this season, the blossom is out in full now, there in the west early. It’s a plum tree, it looks like apple blossom but it’s white, and looking at it, instead of saying “Oh that’s nice blossom” … last week looking at it through the window when I’m writing, I see it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it. Things are both more trivial than they ever were, and more important than they ever were, and the difference between the trivial and the important doesn’t seem to matter. But the nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous, and if people could see that, you know. There’s no way of telling you; you have to experience it, but the glory of it, if you like, the comfort of it, the reassurance … not that I’m interested in reassuring people – bugger that. The fact is, if you see the present tense, boy do you see it! And boy can you celebrate it.
Colin Firth reminds me, because he starred in the film adaptation [which nowhere near approaches the quality of the book], of Blake Morrison’s achingly beautiful And When Did You Last See Your Father?, which I read a few years ago and think I’d like to reread one of these days, but not anytime soon. Morrison too lost his father very abruptly to cancer.