Few tears and much laughter as friends remember a clown: Mothers-in-law joined celebrities to pay tribute to the comedian Les Dawson, writes Malcolm Pithers
Thursday 17 June 1993
His friends said it was what 'Lumpy' would have appreciated. No pomp and a bit of a laugh at life and its tragedies. They turned up for Dawson's funeral at the White Church near Lytham St Anne's, Lancashire, in their hundreds. The comedian would not have been surprised to see more mothers-in-law in macs and plastic rainhoods than he had probably ever seen looking out into the stage lights.
Police closed roads and erected barriers to keep people back, so they peered over a brick wall, stood on parking cones and hung on to lampposts. Across the road from the church, where only last week the comedian had opened the annual garden fete, women in a residential home trained their binoculars on the cortege. The cortege brimmed with floral tributes from friends who could not resist the one-liners. One, from the comedians Little and Large, read: 'Hope you play the harp better than you did the piano.'
In the church the actor Edward Woodward, a close friend of Dawson, faltered only once as he tried to keep the atmosphere light yet not irreverent. 'Why?' he asked, 'has there been the kind of coverage usually reserved for kings and princes? Well he was the king of comedy and indeed a prince of a man.'
Other entertainers had been adulated, praised and admired, but in Les Dawson's case there had been such an outpouring of love, Woodward said. 'That is the key is it not? . . . The key to this whole day is the love of Les Dawson and his love of others.'
The service was a mix of hymns, songs and readings from Dawson's own comic, autobiographical and philosophical writings. Michelle Dotrice, an actress and Woodward's wife, said everyone knew that in order to survive over the past few years, Dawson had given up things which were deemed bad for him. She said he had written 'losing weight entails giving up all the things that make life enjoyable. Hot mouthwatering pies, with lagoons of thick aromatic gravy, golden crumpets, dripping with warm butter . . .'
In the church and outside they chuckled and kept on laughing as a few of the Dawson deadpan jokes hung in the air. But there were sombre moments, too. In one, Mo Moreland, of the Roly Polys dance group, read from Dawson's autobiographical work, No Tears for the Clown, in which he wrote about the birth of his daughter, Charlotte, eight months ago.
At the end of the hour-long service the cortege drove slowly away past the seafront and the Fairhaven lake, where Dawson used to stroll. On the window of each car was a black-and-white sticker advertising the funeral director's name. It read: Box Brothers. Les Dawson would have seen the humour in that.
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 3 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 UK weather: Britain braced for snow to replace sun as arctic air mass moves in
Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
Russian hack of President Obama's emails worse than previously admitted
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
UK weather: Britain braced for snow to replace sun as arctic air mass moves in
Nepal earthquake: US Pastor Tony Miano sparks outcry by suggesting Nepalis should convert and not rebuild their 'pagan shrines'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Haulage company based on the Thorpe Indu...
£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...
£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...