Impressionable Rolly had certain predilections that took a lot of budging. He was keen on hapless Richmond, attended their matches every week, no matter what ignominy the once-formidable Tigers served up. But his fixation with cults was easy to compute - many sensitive boys cultivated their paranoia about brainwashing during adolescence; it was a modern privilege.
The more freedom people had, the more they worried about losing it. The more intelligent people were, the more vulnerable they were to the cunning.
Rolly’s favourite film was 1982’s Split Image, about a middle-class American boy attracted to a charismatic cult leader via his girlfriend. Even more charismatic was the show’s cult de-programmer, played by a jumpy, uncompromising, sleazy, mercenary James Woods, who, for much of the film, appeared less wholesome a personality than the cultist, played by a twinkling-eyed Peter Fonda.
Rolly liked that the film made points about the aimlessness of modern western life, but let no-one off; not the phony, but embattled parents; not the messianic manipulator; not even the supposedly innocent victim Danny ‘Joshua’ Stetson.
It was hard to have a favourite film, and rave about it to your mates, when you had seen it only once, years ago, on late-night TV. Rolly had bought a video copy off eBay, but he had to find someone with an old VCR, and, well, he liked trying to fashion his own story from the memories he had of the film.
He tried to guess what the character went on to do with his life, after having his idealism crunched at such a young age. He mused about what Danny was doing this minute. He would be 38, surely entrenched in some sort of career. Would he be fulfilled, or broken, enthusiastic, or cynical?