David Lynch is recalling a day in 1981 when, he says, he "rescued" five Woody Woodpecker toys that he saw hanging up as he drove past a petrol station.
"I screech on the brakes, I do a U-turn, go back and I buy them and I save their lives," he says seriously. "I named them Chucko, Buster, Pete, Bob and Dan and they were my boys and they were in my office. They were my dear friends for a while but certain traits started coming out and they became not so nice."
Looking straight ahead he says with a grim finality: "They are not in my life anymore."
It is a story like much of his idiosyncratic work---intriguing but mysterious and with an inconclusive ending---along the lines of the thematic aesthetic dubbed "Lynchian."
We are talking in a Beverly Hills hotel shortly before the 71-year-old filmmaker is due to leave for Cannes with the first two hours of his 18-episode return to the lumber town of Twin Peaks.
He spent five years creating the new Twin Peaks with his co-writer and collaborator Mark Frost. "I love the world of Twin Peaks and I would think about it fondly and sometimes would wonder what people were doing and wonder about how things were left," he says. But I didn’t really think of going back into the world until Mark Frost invited me to lunch and we started talking."
The early episodes have received decidedly mixed reviews and he says: "You don’t know what will happen until you release something into the world. It’s out of your control. So it was a big surprise that Twin Peaks traveled around the world and people really liked it. And now, going back in, the rule was to follow the ideas, be true to the ideas, do it as good as you can, and when it’s finished, you release it. And there’s nothing you can do. You just do the best job that you can."
His body of work, containing as it does babbling dwarfs, ominous red curtains and episodes of hideous violence, has variously been described as "weird," "trippy," "bizarre" and "twisted, " So it is no surprise that David Lynch himself comes across as a strange and occasionally baffling man.
Plain spoken yet inscrutable, he is something of a dichotomy: cheerful and friendly yet enigmatic and brusque at times. Much like his work, he defies a tidy description.
More of a surreal artist than a traditional movie director and writer, he also composes songs and music, has produced several albums, makes wood sculptures, has exhibited his paintings, drawings and photographs around the world, designed a nightclub in Paris and founded a coffee company.
He says he loves cinema but goes on to say: "I have not seen anything for years and I am not really a movie buff. I love to make them, but I don’t really see a lot of films. And I don’t watch much TV except I have been watching this Velocity Channel, where they have car shows and customise and restore cars. I have learned so much--- the metal work and the upholstery and the engine work that these guys and gals do is thrilling to me. A lot of these people are real artists."