Thursday, 5 July 2007

George Melly "a lovely man"

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The great English surrealist and iconoclast George Melly, singer, art critic, surrealist and all round mensch died today. He was an honorary associate of New Humanist and a great friend of our own Laurie Taylor. Tomorrow I'll post Laurie's favourite stories about george, but for now let's just pause to remember a lovely, original man.

Just added July 6th

Laurie Taylor recalls his friend George Melly
"The most remarkable thing about George was that though he was a brilliant writer and art critic he insisted on spending so much of his time touring around singing his heart out to anyone who would listen, not always that successfully... but with so much energy. He loved stirring things up, he was a true iconoclast. I remember once we were in Jersey doing a radio programme. He had already succeeded in alienating people there by loudly complaining about the 'rabbit droppings' on his fish (which were in fact capers). It’s a small place so this was enough to get him noticed. Then he managed to enrage the entire Island with a drug reference. A Jersey boy had recently been found to have written a letter asking someone on the mainland to send some cannabis, and got jail time. George made reference, on the radio, to Jersey's "wonderful drug laws, so much more liberal than Turkey's" (Midnight Express was just out then). Finally in signing off the programme he said that it had been made in collaboration with Radio Jersey, 'yup Jersey', he concluded, 'very good at collaboration!'"

Laurie concludes, "I remember most of all a trip I took on George’s famous debauched tour bus, round the beautiful valleys of central Wales. One afternoon we were passing through a particularly spectacular vista, and I couldn’t understand why the band around me was taking no notice of the wonderful scenery. All of a sudden the driver –who was also the bands drummer - pulled up , and everyone turned to look out of the window and broke into spontaneous and sustained applause. For George everything, even nature, was about performance. There was something about him which brought out the surreal in all of us. A lovely, lovely man."