Bernard Manning returns to have the last laugh
Friday 20 June 2008
Anyone taking a stroll past the Embassy Club in the Manchester suburb of Harpurhey yesterday might have noticed that one year after Bernard Manning's death, the venue's most controversial performer was back.
High above the entrance to the working-class comedy club where the Mancunian comedian spent much of his 50-year career telling unabashed sexist, racist and homophobic jokes, there is an enormous smiling mosaic of Manning. But this is no ordinary piece of art.
Unveiled by his family yesterday to commemorate the anniversary of the comedian's death, the mosaic contains Manning's ashes in a somewhat eerie tribute to a man whose humour divided the nation.
Created by a local artist, Mark Kennedy, and made with the backing of Manning's family, some of the comedian's ashes have been placed inside the adhesive that holds the hundreds of shards of pottery together.
It replaces a much older portrait of the comedian, painted by a now unknown punter more than 25 years ago, that once used to hang in the same place.
Kennedy, whose mosaics are a regular feature of the Manchester cityscape, said the comedian once approached him about replacing the old picture because it made him look like a cross between Harry Secombe and Terry Wogan. "Bernard came to me years ago to talk about a mosaic," Kennedy said.
"A few years back I did one for the family of a local pub landlord and placed the ashes inside. When Bernard died last year, I contacted his son and said it might be a nice opportunity to do the same."
Manning's 47-year-old son, who shares the same name and now runs his club, soon warmed to the idea. "To begin with I thought, 'Hmm, I'm not sure about that,'" he said.
"But then the more we thought about it we realised it would actually be a fitting tribute. I think he would have been really chuffed; he was very nostalgic and very into his traditions. This was the place where he grew up and spent most of his life. Now his fans can look up as they are passing and say: 'Oh, there's Bernard.' I think he would have thought it was a great touch."
The mosaic, made from remnants of Royal Doulton pottery, pays tribute to Manning's strongly patriotic and pro-royal views, depicting him in his famous Union Jack waistcoat and featuring shards from numerous royal wedding mugs, but steers clear of the more controversial elements of his humour.
Kennedy said he hoped fans would see the ashes as a final comedic gesture from Manning. "People are having a good laugh about it. It's like they're saying Bernard's back at the Embassy."
In his own words
"I managed to make it into my late 70s, but then there was always a very strong survival instinct in my family. I had an uncle who was still having sex at 74. Which was lucky, he lived at No 72."
"It was also a contented end, which reminds me of another long-lived uncle, a bus driver who went peacefully in his sleep – not screaming like his passengers."
- 1 Cecil the lion: Dentist Walter Palmer blames local guides in Zimbabwe for the scandal
- 2 Kate Winslet thanked 'particularly horrible' girl who bullied her at school after Titanic success
- 3 Norwich paedophile ring: Woman at centre of gang who made children 'sexual play things' guilty of 23 offences
- 4 Black and ethnic minority people twice as likely to be hit by Tory cuts than white people, report finds
- 5 Walter Palmer: Cecil the lion killer revealed to be American dentist
Kate Winslet thanked 'particularly horrible' girl who bullied her at school after Titanic success
Norwich paedophile ring: Woman at centre of gang who made children 'sexual play things' guilty of 23 offences
Model's video shoot on the beach interrupted by sudden landing of a group of illegal migrants
Black and ethnic minority people twice as likely to be hit by Tory cuts than white people, report finds
Walter Palmer: Cecil the lion killer revealed to be American dentist
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
The last thing Labour needs is a leader like Jeremy Corbyn who people want to vote for
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: As an Associate Recruitment C...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This exciting startup disruptin...
£25k plus Benefits: Guru Careers: A Carpenter and Maintenance Operator is need...
£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This London based publishing co...