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Then, in your twenties and thirties, you’re like, OK, if I can’t have all that, then I’ll settle for a decent health service and the right to recycle my household waste.
At 68, you’re railing against the bloody traffic when you’re trying to cross the road.
‘At times,’ he has said, ‘I got the feeling that she just didn’t like me very much.’ (She died when he was 29, his father 11 years ago.) Their youngest son was a conspicuously high achiever, academically and otherwise – Eton house captain, Cambridge Blue (Laurie’s team lost the 1980 Boat Race by five feet; his father won an Olympic rowing gold), Footlights president, and so on.
He wears his erudition lightly – his frames of reference run the gamut from Socrates to General Mac Arthur via old Jethro Tull lyrics.
It would be awful to think that they’d be ashamed and appalled – that you were a betrayal of everything they thought they’d become.’ But if the 40-plus Laurie is already a cop-out, would his teen self regard his Hollywood career as a sell-out? ‘I think he’d be reasonably proud of House,’ he says eventually, ‘so, in a way, the Hollywood-ness of it is irrelevant.
Hollywood is a word with many pejorative connotations, isn’t it?
Can I ever just rejoice in the fruits of my labours without this nagging voice of doubt in the back of my head?
’ Laurie has tried various clinical ways to resolve these contradictions – antidepressants (during a particularly dark time in his twenties) and therapy (he continues to see a shrink once a week, ‘for stress mainly, and because it’s LA; it would be considered weird not to’).
House is about to enter its fifth series, which will feature its talismanic 100th episode (Laurie has signed up for two more).But it’s not so much that I seek it, because I’m sure I could go and buy a load of tapes and books from the self-help section of Borders and train myself to acquire it.It’s more that, for some reason, I’ve chosen a different road.’ Two factors, both inherited from his parents, weigh heavily on Laurie’s world view – a Scottish Presbyterian ancestry and a deep-rooted sense of guilt.I think I’d say that you’ll never think you know more or feel more acutely or have any clearer an insight into existence than you do right now.From now on it’s a gradually descending mist of confusion and doubt. You hope that your teenage self would like and forgive your 50-year-old self.