Saturday, April 26, 2008

25 April 2008: Humph

Very sad to load up the BBC News site tonight after watching Doctor Who (they just showed episode one of the new season on the Sci Fi channel over here. Is it me, or is Donna the next Bonnie Langford?). One news story.

Veteran jazz musician and radio host Humphrey Lyttleton has died aged 86.

I never knew much about the jazz side of things, but one thing I listened to from a very young age was the radio show, I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. This was a strange panel game featuring two-thirds of The Goodies, the cartoonist who read Winnie The Pooh and an annoying writer, all being given silly things to do by Humphrey Lyttleton, with Colin Sell setting some of them to music. I learned to recognise the games as they came up semi-regularly, and played them often with friends and family: Cheddar Gorge, One Song To The Tune Of Another (best one ever: 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' to the tune of the German national anthem; close second: 'Girlfriend In A Coma' to the tune of 'Tiptoe Through The Tulips'), Pick Up Song, Swanee Kazoo and usually ending with a round of Late Arrivals. If you don't know what these games are, that's why there's Google. Find some archives and get listening.

The best of them all, of course, was the most pointless: Mornington Crescent. Now I'm not going to give away all the secrets of the game, but having lived in London for six years and witness the joyous reopening of Mornington Crescent station, it's clear that though Humph has passed away, Mornington Crescent should live on. Again, do some Google searching and you'll be sure to find some people playing online somewhere. Follow a few games along for a bit and you'll soon pick it up.

I guess, given that Humph was 86, this day shouldn't come as such a shock, but it does. Humph, to me, was always an elderly man, full of humour and never seeming to age in the thirty-odd years I listened to the show. He's gone, and we'll miss him greatly, and I don't know that we'll hear his like on radio again. I wonder if, partly, that was due to his being a musician first and a broadcaster in his spare time: he didn't have to worry about trying hard, he was just himself. Jools Holland, perhaps, also fits the same category.

As for us Clue fans, the question now becomes what do we listen to? For a long time I've proclaimed Mark Kermode's film reviews as being the best hour on radio anywhere in the world each week, and today's episode was no exception. There's Harry Shearer, of course, and The Goons will live forever, or at least as long as there's BBC7.

But today, as the lemmings of time leap wildly over the cliff of eternity, and the janitor of destiny mops up the mess below, we say goodbye to Humph, and enjoy a lot of golden memories.

1 comment:

andymoore said...

'Tis indeed a sad, sad day...
we wonder what the poor Samatha will do without him...?
Goodbye, Humph, you were great!