Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

In Praise of Four Score

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 6th July, 2007

george-melly.jpgLunch today’s at Francis King’s, with his publisher, Gary Pulsifer, and three other friends. Francis’s latest novel — With My Little Eye (Arcadia £10.99) — is just out. If I’m still having books published when I am 84, I shan’t be complaining! My honorary grandmother (not a blood relative, but that’s the role she played in my life), Edith Bisch, who wrote under the pseudonym Edith de Born, saw 19 of her novels into print, but died a sad woman in her 80s, because no-one would touch Number 20. That was at the time when ‘old’ equalled ‘unwanted’ — a concept that is now illegal (thanks to the EU), as well as unfashionable (except at the BBC). Actually, it was at Edith’s house in Brussels that Francis and I first met, almost exactly 30 years ago. She has long since departed, but Francis is still very much alive and kicking.

Not, alas, my pal and occasional drinking companion, George Melly, who expired yesterday, at the age of 80, after a riotous life in which he brought much pleasure (and some tears) to many. Jazz musician, all-round performer, and self-confessed ‘tart’, he could be huge fun. Towards the end, knowing he was dying, he also started to display signs of dementia, but typically with George, one never quite knew whether things he did or said really were because of encroaching senility, or whether he was having you on. He alarmed one lady who showed him a photo of herself with the Pope and asked him ‘Do you know who that is?’. ‘Oh,’ said George, ‘That’s you! But who’s that man?’  When she replied, ‘The Pope!’, he declared testily, ‘No! I’m the Pope!’ I am sure I will not be the only person raising a glass or two in his memory at the Soho Festival on Sunday, 15 July.

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One Response to “In Praise of Four Score”

  1. Since you knew George Melly, you might find mildly interesting something I posted to my blog today.

    http://stomp-off.blogspot.com/2009/09/london-1953.html

    Chris Albertson

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