Who’s next?

The coincidence is all true. Shame.

 

5.53am Wednesday 14th March 2018.

 
If the theory that things happen in 3’s is true (which it rarely is, unless World war III is really soon) then surely there is one more big British name left to be toppled before the end of the week. It’s like 2017 all over again. You can’t have ‘Dodd, Hawking and TBC’ engraved on a park bench in heaven. I wonder how the two of them would manage in each other’s company. No doubt Hawking had a good sense of humour, I mean, you’d have to, but would Dodd’s diddery antics start to grate after a while?

 
At a stretch of the imagination maybe they’d have made a great double act. Hawking could have created a small black hole on stage through which Dodd would be able to tickle someone right at the very back of the audience. Or the pre-eminent scientist of his generation might have experimented up a gaping old tear in the space-time continuum (is that the same as a black hole?) through which Dodd could have failed to pay his income tax. Anyway, it would have been an interesting idea if they’d both not died this
week.

 
And it’s a shame they’re dead because I rather liked the pair of them. Even as a child I was cynical but I remember my parents taking me to see Ken Dodd somewhere like the Beck Theatre in Hayes (classy) and absolutely loving it. And that wasn’t even one of his legendary five hour jobs; maybe two and half at best but he really did fill that time like a trooper and cheesy or not it didn’t matter, because I love cheese. Nothing short of comedy genius.

 
On the other hand I never had the privilege to see ‘An Audience with Stephen Hawking’ or whatever it was that he did. To be honest it probably would have been a waste of my money. I once started reading ‘A Brief History of Time’ and frankly didn’t understand a fucking word of it. I may as well have been reading the instruction manual for a jet engine in Dutch. I actually own the illustrated ‘Universe in a Nutshell’ but if there is one book in my house that is there to be seen and not read then it is very likely the one. Nice pictures, mind you.

 
So two men down. Two legends in their own life time snuffed out. Fair enough ‘Ken Dodd – the legend’ never travelled well beyond these shores but it doesn’t make him any less special. He was better than most; I wasn’t fussed when Bruce Forsythe bowed out because he wasn’t much more than a tap dancing spiv with a face you could write a Chinese menu on. His nostalgia is false, his talent barely discernible and I daresay his ghost is a crap one. As for Hawking he really did achieve stuff. It’s just that I don’t really understand a lot of what he achieved and therefore can’t summarize it in a manner articulate enough to express in this particular forum. For me he was just a very nice, very, very clever man in a very awesome electric wheelchair that helped us to get our heads around how tiny and insignificant we all are.

 
7.23pm Wednesday 14th March 2018. As if by bad magic.

 
Jim Bowen. That’s who. I hope I was nothing to do with it. In terms of sheer presence in my childhood Jim Bowen wins this hands down; and who better than he to fill that last space on the pearly bench. Bullseye was beyond brilliant. For me I still haven’t come up with a better way to fill half an hour on a wet Sunday afternoon. It needed a character like Bowen to joke and give comfort to every contestant through the onslaught of cheap, northern disappointment. The disappointment of having a celebrity darts player (who played darts FOR A LIVING) cock it all up for them. The disappointment of having a partner who couldn’t throw darts for shit. The disappointment of missing out on the big ‘state of the art’ television and getting an electric carving knife instead.

 

But it was never really disappointing losing out on the jet-ski or the holiday or the brown Austin Allegro or the 6 berth caravan because everyone missed out on that. It is very likely that if anyone had ever won Bully’s star prize the whole show would have gone over budget and poor old Jim would have gone into terminal administration. I suppose a cheap tankard, a roll of fivers and a chance to have a clammy handshake with Jockey Wilson always made up for a lot of disappointment. Innnnn one.

 

So, here’s to you Ken, Stephen and Jim. You were all top chaps and worth every penny. Kick off your brogues and relax. And unlike Brucie, you actually really did do very well.

 

G B Hewitt. 14.03.2108

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