Some of you – say, those who’ve known me since 1990 – may already know that I’m a massive fan of Twin Peaks. And I mean MASSIVE. Twin Peaks changed my life, in more or less the same way that Buffy changed my life almost a decade later. (For the curious: I went to a Buffy convention, bumped into a few members of SFX, heard there was a job going on the magazine and the rest is history.)
If it hadn’t been for Twin Peaks, I wouldn’t have visited London for the very first time in April 1991 and fallen in love with the city, prompting me to switch universities from Swansea (much hate) to Richmond (much love). If I hadn’t switched universities I probably would have failed my course in Art & Design, a subject which came to me about as naturally as a giraffe learning to surf, only not as funny to watch. I would never have gone on to earn a degree in English & American Studies – which came in very handy for my chosen career – at a university in the very street in which I live today. In fact, if I’d spent my entire three years of university in Swansea I would most probably have topped myself because I hated the place so much (with apologies to any Swansea residents reading this).
Swansea? Wrong course, wrong people, wrong town. Richmond? Right course, right people, right city.
The Peak-y reason I was in London in April 1991 was because I wanted to meet Agent Cooper, aka Kyle MacLachlan, aka that guy I’d fallen for after watching Dune and The Hidden before I’d even set eyes on anyone named Cooper. I sat in the crowd at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire to watch him being interviewed on Wogan. I sat in the crowd at the Greenwood Theatre to watch him being interviewed on Tonight With Jonathan Ross. I stood outside the studios of TV-am in Camden to get his autograph at a silly hour of the morning, and even managed to get a photo taken with him. It’s probably the nearest I’ve ever come to stalking a celebrity in my life, although I’m happy to say I was totally polite and respectful and didn’t hassle him in any way (unlike some of the other Peaks fans I saw hanging around the studios, but the less said about them – or the professional autograph-hunting crowd – the better).
I was simply a very young, very giggly girl with eyes as large as saucers meeting her idol in the Big City. No wonder I decided to move to London afterwards; dreams came true there.
I’ve just bought the Twin Peaks Definitive Gold Edition R1 box set. Last night I watched the show’s pilot, an episode I must have seen at least 50 times over the years; hell, I even wrote my university dissertation on the series. But watching it on DVD for the very first time… well, it was a different show. My grungy VHS tapes always made the series look soupy and muggy, as though it was shot on the kind of videotape they used in 1980s daytime soap operas. Suddenly I was noticing things I’d never seen before – the reflection of Lucy in the glass of the police station while Sheriff Truman gets the call from Pete to say he’s found a body; the image of the bike in Laura Palmer’s eye on the videotape (always a blur before now); the image of BOB reflected in the mirror above Sarah Palmer’s head as she has her vision at the end of the episode. It’s like I’m seeing the show with totally fresh eyes.
The other thing which has amazed me is that, all these years on, I can watch Agent Dale Cooper drive into the small town of Twin Peaks (“…five miles south of the Canadian border, twelve miles west of the state line”) and feel absolutely nothing for him. My girly crush has completely evaporated. Kyle MacLachlan is nothing to me now. I still love Coop, but that burning fascination with the man who went on to unknowingly change my life is no more. He also makes me feel old: I’m 36 to MacLachlan’s 31-year-old FBI agent, who always used to be someone I looked up to. I never thought I’d be older than Coop!
Life is full of nasty surprises like this. I remember my mum telling me once that when she was younger footballers seemed like gods, but as she grew older, they turned into little boys. It’s happening to me. I hate it.
On the plus side, I think I’ve discovered a new appreciation for Michael Ontkean’s Sheriff Truman, who seemed far too old for me when I watched Twin Peaks in 1990 but, these days, is of a perfect vintage. Swings and roundabouts, as the old saying goes…
Oh, and the lady with the log? They call her the Log Lady.