Michael Lindsay-Hogg was known to me, before Luck and Circumstance, as a director who worked with the Stones on Rock and Roll Circus and the Beatles on Let it Be. I did not even know that he was the son of actress Geraldine Fitzgerald, or that his parentage involved an ongoing mystery.
Luck and Circumstance is a witty and poignant memoir, full of stories about the author’s mother and her famous friends who peopled Lindsay-Hogg’s childhood, such as William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies, Olivia de Havilland, Humphrey Bogart, Henry Miller, and Orson Welles, who may or may not be his actual father. Or is Eddy Lindsay-Hogg, the official father who has been in Ireland most of Lindsay-Hogg’s life and whom he rarely sees, his real parent? Who, besides his mother, knows the truth?
This, really, becomes the paramount question that follows Michael through his life, and helps to shape who he is, along with the brilliant but intermittent presence of his mother, who flits in and out of his childhood and teens like a beautiful but unpredictable butterfly.
During the sixties, Lindsay-Hogg was in his twenties and directed the extremely popular British music television program, Ready, Steady, Go! It was because of this that he became involved with making videos for the Rolling Stones and the Beatles and later directed Rock and Roll Circus and Let It Be. The author does share some stories about his work with the two most famous bands of their time, but I would have liked to have heard a lot more about this and about Lindsay-Hogg’s own work. Perhaps that will be another book.
Luck and Circumstance is basically about a boy, his mother, acknowledged father, stepfather, and possible father, and the parts that each one of them — and the search for the truth about it all — played in his life and career. On that level, it is honest, heartfelt, and compelling. I’m glad that I know this much about Michael Lindsay-Hogg, but I would like to read a lot more from him, especially about his life in rock ‘n’ roll, the theater, and movies, and that is, of course, not a bad thing.