Fake leopardskin and leather as Loonies mourn Lord Sutch

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LEATHER-CLAD retro bikers met retro rockers, met Raving Loonies, at the funeral of Screaming Lord Sutch in north-west London yesterday, where fans, friends and family bid a characteristically eccentric farewell to Britain's wackiest political figure.

A congregation of about 300 spilt out into the garden of St Paul's Church in South Harrow to hear the relayed service give thanks for the happiness and fun he generated by challenging political pomposity.

The yellow and black colours of his Monster Raving Loony Party were well represented, particularly in the widespread wearing of fake leopardskin. One couple wore leopardskin arm bands. Even the pillars of the church were painted yellow.

In his eulogy to the rock'n'roll pioneer turned fringe politician, John Tempest, Sutch's election campaign director, looked back on the Loony policies that did eventually make it into the mainstream - such as votes for teenagers, all-day opening of pubs and commercial radio stations.

"What can you say about a man who posed the impossible question: `Why is there only one Monopolies Commission?' and who regularly gave his age as 10 years younger than he was, then added: `Plus VAT'," said Mr Tempest. "Wherever he went, everybody recognised David Sutch. All were rewarded with a smile and a Loony million-pound note."

David Edward Sutch, 58, changed his name to Screaming Lord Sutch, the 3rd Earl of Harrow, by deed poll in the Sixties. He was found hanged at his home on 16 June after apparently committing suicide.

He is said never to have got over the death, two years ago, of his mother, with whom he had a close relationship. Sutch was yesterday buried next to her.

The Rev Alan Hulme, officiating, pointed out three pictures on the front of the order of service which he said illustrated Sutch's great passions in life- a tea cup, a guitar and a party rosette."His great love of cups of tea was not perhaps the standard image of a rock'n'roll star. But one of his friends last week said a packet of tea would be a more fitting tribute than a bunch of flowers," said Mr Hulme, as a ripple of amused assent went round the church.

Midway through the service, classic hymns and prayers gave way to the playing of Chuck Berry's hit "Roll Over Beethoven", with which Sutch used to open his concerts.

His coffin was carried out afterwards with a huge spray of white flowers on the top together with one of his trademark top hats. In the hearse it was flanked by a pair of leopardskin boots and two brass loud hailers, other accessories from his decades on the Loony campaign trail.

Alan Hope, the Loony town mayor of Ashburton, in Devon, said that he was the party's assumed leader until it holds its annual conference at his pub in September. "Either we will get stronger, or finish it in his memory," he said. "I think it should go on."

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