I nearly met Spike Milligan. About twenty-five years ago he
parked his Mini on double yellow lines near my office and it was towed away by
the police. Not once, but twice in a day.
He was staying at
the Midland Hotel in the centre of Manchester and so I strolled around there and
asked for him at reception.
The girl phoned him in his
room and then motioned me to a booth nearby and there he was on the telephone
from his room.
"I wondered if you'd like to write
a poem about what's been happening to your car today?" I asked. It's
easy when you've had a drink or six and feel full of confidence.
it happens, I'm in the bath at the moment," he said. "Would you
like me to walk on the water as well?"
But a line
must have crept into his mind and he carried on: "How far away is your
office?" he asked.
"About three hundred
yards," I said.
"Well, walk back - slowly
- and I'll ring you," he promised.
I want you to write it in my notebook," I said. He made a sort of Neddy
Seagoon noise and hung up.
He was on the phone by the time
I got to the office with a funny twelve-liner, which for the life of me I cannot
now remember. But it appeared in the Daily Mail - on page three - the next morning.
Those archives have gone now, along with my memory and even Spike himself. Ain't
it funny how time and what my consultant describes as "a history of drinking"
can take away. At least Ibiza is forever.
In those days
I suppose I was young and innocent. Nowadays I would have been back there sober
at breakfast-time with a copy of the newspaper and the notebook. I would have
been looking at the torn-out page framed in my lounge even now.
I'm reminiscing about the man who redefined English humour, despite having been
an Irishman born in India.
"When I look back, the
finest memory I have is not really of the Goons. It is of a girl called Julia
with enormous breasts," he once said.
Or how about
"All I ask is the chance to prove
that money can't make me happy."
(To Harry Secombe):
"I hope you go before me because I don't want you singing at my funeral."
long was I in the Army - about five foot eleven."
anything worn under the kilt?" No, it's all in perfect working order."
like to go to Heaven. But if Jeffrey Archer's there, I'd rather go to Lewisham."
being awarded the CBE: "It's silly this. I'd rather have been made a Commander
of Milton Keynes - at least it exists."
Daily Mirror front page had it right on Thursday with an illustration of a
gravestone on which was carved: "I TOLD YOU I WAS ILL."
Spike suffered with manic depression and said it was the strain of writing a script
for the Goons every week that drove him to distraction.
that. It's not half so bad writing for www.liveibiza.com