Filed: Brief Lives

Last Laugh

No matter what you think about Bernard Manning, he had the last laugh on the Manchester Evening News which published news that he was on the mend just hours before they had to concede that actually he was dead. No matter what you might have thought about him — racist, sexist, stereotypist and every other ist that he was — he could be bloody funny.

I remember seeing him at a recording of the Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club at Granada Studios in the 1970s and I can tell you that the audience were helpless with laughter, though I can’t recall a single joke when we left. He could sing a bit too. But before being quick to label him, this is from his obit in the Telegraph: Read more ›››

RIP Linda

I was very sad to hear of the death of Linda Smith today. 48 is a terribly young age to lose anyone, but especially one so talented. Her Brief History of Timewasting was an hilarious mix of the mudane and surreal. She will be dearly missed.

What a maudlin header! What I’m really talking about are the people, most you’ve never met, but who have a place in your personal nostalgia, a place of warm cosiness or horrid starkness somewhere in the memory banks that creeps up.

It happened at the weekend for me with the Sunday Times Last Word. The wrestler Jackie Pallo, a bad guy for me watching at 4pm on Saturday afternoons on b/w telly with my Nan who was a great grapple fan. He even went on to profile in the Avengers. Read more ›››

Rest in Peace

“There is no denying that Hitler and Stalin are alive today…they are waiting for us to forget, because this is what makes possible the resurrection of these two monsters.” Simon Wiesenthal (1908-2005)

Mini Life

Old Mini

It should be a maudlin programme, but I can’t resist Brief Lives on Radio Five. The deaths of people, some you’ve heard and some you haven’t, and what they have achieved is uplifting in its own way.

Take tonight and Jack Daniels. For me, that means whisky, but this Jack was the engineer behind the first car I ever drove (Morris Minor) and the first I ever owned (the Mini.) Read more ›››

Sad Passing

I’ve had the BBC Newsticker installed on my laptop for a few weeks now and for the first time I was shocked by the news — John Peel is dead, collapsed with a heart attack while on holiday in Peru.

I suppose it’s because you start to question your own mortality when icons from your younger days start shuffle off, particularly when it’s from natural causes. Read more ›››

Much as I disliked his politics, you had to admire Ronald Reagan for his sincerity and pity him for spending the last ten years of his life coping with Alzheimer’s disease — in some ways his death will have come as a relief and a release.

He will be remembered for many things, but perhaps most of all for the impression that here was a simple man with simple beliefs that he followed with great conviction. Read more ›››

Era Ends

It’s called the passage of time. Missing things not because you value them, but because they have always been there. Friday saw the very last of Alistair Cooke’s Letter from America.

Which leads me to another of my occasional Greater Mancunian series. Cooke was born in Salford, the son of an iron-fitter Methodist lay preacher, although he grew up in Blackpool. He tossed aside his humble beginnings after winning a scholarship to Cambridge, kicking over the traces of his given name Alfred, Alistair being more in keeping with the aesthete image he aspired to. Read more ›››

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