Archive for the Dearly Departed Category

Death becomes us, on the internet

Posted in Dearly Departed, Grave News on February 15, 2012 by Johnnie


How fondly the dead are remembered.  For most people, but most especially the extraordinarily famous, their death becomes a celestial slate wiper.   No matter the circumstances of their demise – suicide, years of self-abuse, murder, or ‘natural causes’ – all sins are returned to the shadows as the internet comes alive with inconsolable grief.   Repeatedly, press, television, and the online kangaroo court known as Twitter, focus on all the good the deceased ever did, and can never do again.  In death, angels are born.

The living are not afforded such luxury.   Continue reading

Memories of Bob Holness, 1928 – 2012

Posted in Dearly Departed, Pointless Nostalgia, TV on January 9, 2012 by Johnnie

Like anyone of an age, I’m very sorry to hear of the passing of former Blockbusters host, Bob Holness.  His show was essential tea-time viewing for me in the mid 1980s, being a quiz with questions I had a reasonable chance of answering correctly. Not that I was ever brave enough to apply to take part, mind you, but I did think the prizes were rather excellent. Bob was as gentlemanly and respectable a host as you could have, and in his banter with contestants and ability to cut out any nonsense showed he was a savvy choice for both the concept of the show and its time slot.   Blockbusters was always a slightly odd quiz, in that it tested the theory that two heads were better than one. So, with two contestants up against a solo one, it was always nice to see the solo ones doing well and reaching one or more Gold Runs, where all the prizes were to be won.

Bob was perhaps a little like a doddery uncle at times, but his often awkward smalltalk with contestants was all part of his charm.  It also led to some great comic moments, over and above the ubiquitous “I’ll have a ‘p’ please, Bob”.  Continue reading

Tony Curtis 1925-2010

Posted in Dearly Departed, Film, Grave News, TV on September 30, 2010 by Johnnie

Very sad to hear of the death of one of my childhood heroes, Tony Curtis, at the age of 85.

A handsome, rugged and stylish man, he was a surprisingly versatile actor in his younger days.  He received an Oscar nomination for his performance as John ‘Joker’ Jackson in 1959’s The Defiant Ones, starring alongside Sidney Poitier and Lon Chaney Jr, he played the slave Antoninus in Stanley Kubrick’s magnificent Spartacus, and was the uncredited voice of Donald Baumgart in Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, but he’s probably most famous for his role as Joe/’Josephine’ in Some Like It Hot, co-starring with Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe.  However, he came into my life when I was a youngster when he played New York rough diamond Danny Wilde in ITC’s wonderful TV series, The Persuaders. Continue reading

Medium rare

Posted in Advice, Dearly Departed, Geeks, Star "Style" on September 3, 2010 by Johnnie

I’m not one for giving free advertising to any old spooky crank but I feel it’s my duty to give this chap a little exposure.  Meet John, who’s evidently the Austin Powers of the parapsychological world; he’s not just a psychic medium and clairvoyant, he’s an international psychic medium and clairvoyant.  Just cross his palm with plastic and the fog will lift on “your pathway of destiny”, allowing you to more easily “explore the possibilities of your future”, all from the comfort of your own home if necessary.  The boy will even attend your house parties – what could be more perfect and reassuring for those getting on a bit than a clairvoyant turning up at your party to remind you that the dead still hang around and talk to parties?  All the same, image is everything these days and it’s a pity John didn’t explore the future possibilities of his own hair loss, allow the fog to lift from his own mirror and listen to the voices from well before the grave:  Continue reading

Bobby Hebb 1938 – 2010

Posted in Dearly Departed, Music on August 6, 2010 by Johnnie

IHGN mourns the passing of brilliant singer and songwriter Bobby Hebb, who died on Tuesday this week from lung cancer aged 72.

Hebb will always be remembered as the writer of ‘Sunny’, one of the happiest songs of all time.  Amongst my favourite versions of this often-covered classic (aside from Hebb’s own) are those by Andy Williams, Frankie Valli and Dusty Springfield.  However, for me two others stand out from the rest.

Firstly, this 1976 disco classic from Boney M – one of the first songs I play (with irony/optimism) after the clocks go foward every year… Continue reading

Oui, je bored… think I’ll just commune with the dead

Posted in Dearly Departed, Grave News, Words on July 28, 2010 by Johnnie

Whenever my friend and I were bored during the long, winter nights of the early 1980s – when we were restless teenagers, fed up listening to Tears For Fears and there was only Bergerac on the telly – our thoughts inevitably turned to talking to dead people.  Out would come the little table, the Scrabble pieces would be arranged in an alphabetical circle, and we’d complete the set-up with a lop-turned glass and a torch, because candles were dangerous – unlike disturbing the spirits of the dead, obviously.  Then, we’d begin to terrify the living jobbies out of ourselves with our earnest enquiries of, “is there anyone there?”

I remember, quite vividly, the first time we tried it.  Another friend joined us for the occasion, a lad slightly younger than us, which would later get us into trouble from our parents – his nightmares that night were quite hideous, apparently.  Anyway; be it intervention from the other side or straightforward nervous pushing from us, our polite call to the ghostly land beyond was soon answered.  Continue reading

Alex “Hurricane” Higgins 1949 – 2010

Posted in Dearly Departed, Grave News on July 24, 2010 by Johnnie

R.I.P. Alex “Hurricane” Higgins.  No matter what happens in world snooker, we will never see your like again.  There will be many tributes paid to the most entertaining player snooker has ever known and most of them will speak of a great, if wayward, man who tore up the rule book, transgressed the written laws, and stuck two fingers up at the stuffy dickie-bow-and-Brylcreem authoritarians who wanted to keep the game conservative and exclusive.

Higgins was The People’s Champion, the true antidote to murderously slow, deliberate players like Cliff Thorburn and Terry Griffiths.  Even the 70s and 80s ‘playboys’ Kirk Stevens and Tony Knowles couldn’t hold a candle to him for entertainment on and off the baize.  His old sparring partner Steve Davis, whom Higgins called “the apprentice Grinder”, described him as “the one true genius snooker ever produced”.  Amen to that.

I was 12 when Higgins beat Ray Reardon 18-15 to become World Snooker Champion for the second time in 1982.  No one who saw that match, while rooting for The Hurricane, could ever forget the emotional scenes right after the game when he tearfully embraced his baby daughter Lauren.  I’ve watched that final frame more times than I care to remember, and I still get the shivers and the tears still well.  It’ll be tough to watch again now that he’s gone. Continue reading