Saturday, 27 November 2010

'I am deceased'

I mentioned on Monday that I had sent for a copy of The Life and Death of Sandy Stone.

I think it's safe to say that neither Barry Humphries, nor his agent, nor his publisher will read this post; so I'm going to perform an act of brazen literary vandalism and give a potted version of one of Sandy Stone's lengthy monologues. Bear in mind that Sandy Stone was intended to be heard and seen, not read - as Clive James put it (Approximately in the vicinity of Barry Humphries), 'You have to have seen the shows, or at least listened to the records, to realise that the Sandy transcripts collected in A Nice Night's Entertainment (London, 1982), falsify the character by moving as fast as you can read, whereas the sentences should produce themselves the way Sandy speaks, glacially.'


There is just a bed and a chair in the centre of a dimly lit stage. Sandy is sitting in the chair, nursing a hot water bottle, and there is a large hump beneath the mauve candlewick coverlet on the bed.


With the resultant consequence that there has been a considerable change in my lifestyle. I've never had a day's illness in my life so this little setback came as much as a surprise to me as it did to Beryl, my good wife…

Beryl was on her Scandinavian leg [of her Women's Weekly World Discovery Tour] when she received Gweneth Longmire's tragic news of my decease. I wrecked Helsinki for Beryl - if ever a man ruined Scandinavia for a loved one it was me. And she could have caught her death rushing out of that sauna as quick as she did…

My wife must have a bit of Scotch blood in her because she got a few quotes on me first - she put out tenders - but in the end she settled for a very reasonable little local firm of funeral directors…

Beryl's a marvellous little person though. There she was - sitting in the back seat of the cortege like Lady Muck whizzing out to the cremmie, her plate full and her cup of grief running over, but she still had the presence of mind to get the driver to pull over outside our local jeweller's shop so she could drop off my watch to get the wristband shortened. Not many women would have thought of that.

In accordance with Beryl's tasteful request [Family only please] there weren't too many out there to see me off. There was only Beryl. And me up to a point. Oh, and Thelma Bullock and the Longmires. And the Nettletons without their kiddies. And Valda - dear Valda Clissold - she was there, bless her heart, a true Clissold. And she was terribly upset too, underneath, in all probability. And there was Nurse Younghusband, and Greg Younghusband. Nurse Younghusband's young husband. And there were three very very distressed people at the back of the chapel. I've never seen more distressed-looking people in my life. Turned out they were waiting for the nine forty-five service. Still it was very nice of them to put their heads around the corner. They were not called upon to do so...

…I suppose that when you catch the ferry you're bound to leave something on the jetty, some bit of unfinished business. We all leave undone those things which we ought to have done. But there is one thing I wish I had achieved before I handed in my marbles and jumped the twig. Every morning I woke up full of good intentions - but somehow I kept putting it off and in the end I didn't blessed well do it … defrost the fridge! I mean I thought about it. I was thinking about it the day I passed away, as a matter of fact. That was a funny old day: something's made that day stick in my memory…"
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