I mourn the death of George Melly. For some reason, I read ‘Owning Up’ – his autobiography of his early years on the road – with the Mulligan band – long before the days of John Chilton’s Feetwarmers. In a world of caution and carefulness – much of it my own – I found his overwhelming exuberance very attractive. I must go back and read that other book about his jazz and his sexuality, ‘Rum, Bum And Concertina’
It is, of course, appropriate that he should die as the smoking ban arrives in England. The Grauniad today said that it is ‘comforting that one of the last great celebrity smokers should die in the saddle.’ And, however much I detest smoking, I can cope with that. One could ask all sorts of elegant questions about the final statement of the same article that, ‘He believed that what he did with his life was much more important than how long it was. He believed in enjoying himself and doing what he wanted, whatever the consequences.’ Clearly the opposite of self-sacrificing Christ-likeness. And yet I suspect that the exuberance was an expression both of life seized with both hands and of giving of his gifts and talents. The world will be the poorer without him.
By the way, the Scottish holiday retreated to the Elgar Pomp and Circumstance world of Glamis Castle today under pressure of the weather. The man at the gate made an executive decision to give us the Senior Citizens’ rate. ’nuff said.