Friday, 25 April 2008

Humphrey Lyttelton: A Tribute

Despite having been a registered contributor to this blog for quite some time, I've never quite managed to get round to writing a post. This is not a fact I'm proud of, and I've received no shortage of chastising for my failure to get involved. But here I am, albeit in somewhat melancholy circumstances.

Humphrey Lyttelton can be described as nothing short of legendary, and when I read tonight of his passing, I felt a very real sense of loss. I have many many memories of enjoying "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue" (the self prescribed antidote to panel shows) in many many places, and in fact only last week laughed and laughed with my parents as we travelled from Liverpool to London enjoying no less than four episodes, back to back.

For several years I was a proud member of Sefton Youth Jazz Orchestra, and every monday night in the car to rehearsal we would giggle away as Humph and the team did silly things. Of course we were always disappointed when "Quote Un-qoute" replaced the show, and those terms never had quite the same sense of joy. Learning to know and love Humph was a very definite part of the development of my sense of humour: the innuendo, crudely disguised insults and general stupidity all seeping into my subconscious. Many of us will continue to emulate him for many years to come, and of course imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Indeed, the part ISIHAC has played in shaping many of the televised panel shows we have today is plain to see. It even almost infiltrated our Students Union when a small group of us attempted to start the Mornington Crescent Society, although sadly with no success. I could write for a long time about my favourite games, from radio paper-scissors-stone (or cow-bomb-lake) to “one song to the tune of another”, but I will leave you to your own memories, or to find out for yourself if you haven’t yet experienced it.

Humph is of course also famous for his jazz music, and he and his big band continued to tour the country until very recently. Around six or seven years ago, I had the absolute privilege of playing in a support group for his big band, when they performed outdoors near Formby Beach in Liverpool. This is a memory on which I will look back very fondly, and will hold as some small compensation for never having achieved my ambition of going to a live recording of ISIHAC.

Since it’s my first post, I’m going to stop myself from rambling on, but how better to end than with one of the great man’s very own closing gems…

“…and so, as the jersey of time is tumble-dried with the Comfort of eternity, and the farmer of destiny wonders how his cow got into the washing machine…

…it’s time to end the show.”

1 comment:

Andy J. Wotherspoon said...

he also played with Radiohead on Amnesiac