Monday, April 28, 2008

Goodbye to an friend I’ve never met

I’ve always said that one of the greatest gifts that my mother ever gave to me was the gift of BBC Radio 4. My life at home was punctuated by the authority of the Six o’clock News of an evening , the drama of the Archers omnibus on a Sunday morning and the warm laughter which accompanied The News Quiz, Just a Minute and I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. So while this morning’s obitiaries of Humphrey Littleton focus on his undoubted (but to jazz philistines like me) unknown musical talents (I didn’t know he played on a Radiohead album either), my memories of Humph are for his deadpan delivery in the funniest comedy show on radio.

No-one does filth like an old Etonian talking to a middle class audience. And many of his radio monologues were just that – hilarious and filthy. It’s a sad state of affairs that at thirty-two years of age the very thought of discussing sex with my parents makes me feel nervous and wary, but we have always been free to share a laugh at a particularly dirty double entendre.

When I listen to the shows I bought last year on CD I can give or take many of the middle rounds, and can easily skip by some games of Mornington Crescent played under some of the more obscure rule books, I never skip Humph’s parts. Genius’ are often respected and admired, but this one was loved my many, including me.

Listening to I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue reminds me of happy times and places. Listening to CDs on honeymoon while driving through the Arizona desert, or sitting in the kitchen with my mother listening in to the Sunday repeat. I will miss Humphrey Littleton.