Thursday, April 10, 2008

Old British gay comedians

"Do you ever see that old comedian who lives near you?" says the taxi driver on the way to work, one day last week.

"Errr, who's that?" I answer in a dis-interested kind of way, looking up from my PDA where I'd been reading a rather amusing email from a colleague. The taxi driver himself is a cheery soul, but looks as though he passed retirement age many years ago! He could well be thinking about someone that I've never heard of.

"Oh what's his name ... ," says the cabbie, "he used to be on TV all the time. He lives there with his boyfriend. I used to pick him up in the cab occasionally, but I haven't seen him for a year or so now."

Hmmm, I guess that's vaguely interesting :-), a famous gay comedian who lives (or lived) near me! But why has the cabbie started discussing gay comedians with me? Dressed for work I look as straight and boring as the next guy! Anyway, I'm not aware of any comedians who live near me so perhaps the cabbie's made a mistake. I start to compose a reply to my colleague's email.

"Barry Took!" says the cabbie triumphantly after a few seconds, "Do you ever see him?"

"Is he still alive?" I ask. I decide that the reply to my colleague can wait so I put my PDA away. "I've definitely not seen him around, and I've been living in the area for over five years now."

"I don't know, perhaps something's happened to him because he used to be quite a regular customer."

"I guess you've picked up loads of famous people in your time?" I ask, fishing for a story. This guy could well have been a London cabbie since before I was born!

"Oh yeah, over the years they've all been in the back there :-)," laughs the cabbie.

"When I was young, I was on the taxi circuit that used to pick up Frankie Howerd," he continues, "Do you remember him?"

"Yes of course :-), what was he like?"

"Well I didn't know about him at first. To tell the truth, I didn't know much about anything when I started out! 'Don't go in for a coffee' they told me when they gave me the job to pick him up for the first time. They all knew about him but how was I meant to know what that meant? He was a lovely guy though, very pleasant to talk to!"

"But did you go in for a coffee?"

"Only once!" laughs the cabbie, "and let me tell you, I got MUCH more than just a coffee!"


Anonymous said...

Barry Took is alive and well, I saw him in Soho about 4 weeks ago. (So he was alive and well 4 weeks ago anyway.)
There was a drama on BBC4 last night about Frankie Howard. He was played by David Walliams and it was made with the help of FH's long term partner Dennis. They were together about 40 or 50 years.


Anonymous said...

Barry Toook died in 2002. Sadly missed as he was one of the writers behind Round the Horne...

GB said...

Well indeed second-anonymous-commenter, I didn't think first-anonymous-commenter could be correct because wikipedia also said that he died in 2002. But neither wikipedia or the telegraph mention any boyfriend, perhaps my cabbie was mistaken?

GB xxx

Anonymous said...

A brilliant story!

badabing said...

I've always wanted to be on the receiving end of an, 'Ere Guv, you'll never guess who I had in the back' cabbie story. I loved this simultaneous resurrection and outing, but Mr Took seems to have been very keen on wives (2) and children (4) for a gay man.