From a friend I've never met - the best round up of 2016 celebrity deathfest
Posted on the 19th Dec 2016 in the category sport

If you had told me twenty years ago I would have friends that I'd never met then I would have said you are mad. Then again if you would have told a wide-eyed me at on a Sunday morning there would be a pub in One Stop Shopping Centre which starts serving at 9am I'd have said your stark raving bonkers.

But thanks to social media I do have friends I've never met. Jez Hemming is one of those friends. Back in 2009 when I was persona none grata in West Midlands Media for my YouTube Two Fingers at the Brum Mail I was offered an olive branch by Danny Kelly on Radio WM. He stuck his neck out as his then boss was friends with my old boss who I had pissed off royally and had stopped presenters reporting the YouTube stuff when every other radio outlet in the city were revelling in my infamous idiocy.

I became a regular on his show reviewing papers and then every Friday doing a round up of wacky internet stories. One of those segments Jez was listening, he is a Brummie by birth but lives in North Wales, and he was in Brum listening to the show on the off chance. He liked what he heard and looked me up on Twitter. I was being followed by the Urbane Guerrilla. Great name I thought.

I was running Goggle-eye online at the time and asked the Internet for a Blues writer. Jez obliged. His copy was great, he loves the Blues and it showed in his writing. I'm well past hating the Blues with a passion now, as a young buck most weeks when I was only a weird second away from getting my head kicked in by Blues fans in some early hours drinking den it all seemed so real. But now, who gives a shit. So a mutual respect and admiration was forged.

After Goggle-eye collapsed we lost touch. Then a few years ago I got a message which contained one of my biggest achievements of my years in the game. It was Jez, he was doing a journalism course in Lancaster and told me he was on the verge of chucking it in, he was in his 40s and trying to enter journalism at an age most have thrown in the towel to go into PR.

He had read Obama and Me: The Incredible True Story of a YouTube Sensation and my tales of rambling madness and love for this dying game had made him change his mind and stick with his quest to be a journalist.

He now works for the North Wales Daily Post. That I played a part in this happening makes me very proud. And he is a bloody good journalist. Like me an old timer in a newsroom of bright young things who are naturally more adept at working within a hierarchical structure and are copy machines. What is needed in the newsroom of 2016.

But me and Jez still have our jobs, because we get great stories, you could not have newsroom full of hacks like Me and Jez but I'll argue till the day I drop down dead prematurely living on my own with a pot noodle in my hand that every newsroom needs a Jez or Me.

And like me Jez has had to work in this intense and demanding environment whilst being a carer, only someone who has done that week after week, month after month and year after year understands how sapping it is on mind and body.

Like me Jez likes to write. And he sent me something which is sublime. It is like poetry. I have written stuff like this before and I know how hard it is, it's phonetic, it's the written word but it is all in the reading of it, out loud by a Brummie preferably.

As this year of celebrity death nears to an end there will be a lot of stuff written about those who have shuffled, jumped or were pushed off this mortal coil and I bet nothing will be better than this.


2016 - Annus of Horribilis - Jez Hemming

I could have lied and said I’d cried when any of these celebrities died - But it’s fair to say, if the year was a ride It would have been a car crash, despite the fake grief for people we didn’t know.

Colonel Abrams no longer trapped with the crap that he rapped And Robert Stigwood became dead-wood as only he could. If you didn’t know, he was the geezer behind Saturday Night Fever, Aged 81, so not a big surprise when I heard he’d gone.

Another for the reaper was DJ Ed Stewart, Stewpot, But that wasn’t the most famous name to flee - that was David Bowie. The Starman, Ashes to Ashes, funk to funky, The man who fell to earth and outed Major Tom - the junkie.

Another to act out his final jape – the man aka Professor Snape, The camp Sheriff of Nottingham - Alan Rickman, A further loss to the luvvies and the hams was the beardy bloke who played Grizzly Adams, And the furnace heat is on for another one, because Glenn Frey was also done.

Frank Finlay will be an inlay on the celebrity tomb as he too drifted away, Twas sad, but this was very, when news broke of the demise of Sir Terry, His eyes and his ECG - Blankety Blank. Synonymous with Children in Need, for which he got a fee he didn’t need.

Among the members of well known bands who shuffled off to their Boogie Wonderlands, Maurice White, Earth Wind and Fire, great singer but sadly a consummate dier. Pete Burns failed to thrive when he gave us the answer to Dead or Alive, But he was not the only one goin’, so too was song-writing poet, Leonard Cohen.

In the lottery of life another loser, was George Martin, fifth Beatle, the producer, On the conveyor belt of those who passed Cliff Michelmore breathed his last And another robbed of life’s sweet magic, Paul Daniels disappeared, now was that tragic? It was for Debbie McGhee - but not as heart-breaking for me.

It was “Goodnight from me” in 2016, if you liked the Two Ronnies you’ll know what I mean, Another whose circadian rhythms went terminally wonky was that bloke Henry from Drop The Dead Donkey, Though he wasn’t the last to lose his spark, Because Howard Marks, the salty old scoundrel, became food for the sharks.

David Gest was past his best. Well I assume this is true as they laid him to rest And despatched to his heaven was the Welshman that starred in that awful Blake’s 7, It wasn’t good, nowhere near as good as Victoria Wood, Her life now replete, she left an unplayed piano and its empty seat.

The life of Prince was this year evinced, his purple face erased in a deluge of Purple Rain, never to be seen again, Like that literary Liver Bird – Carla Lane. The next departure we were to learn was the untimely ghosting of Caroline Ahearn, She was Royle family, Mrs Merton, and too premature for her final curtain.

Wilder still the end of Gene, who exited his final scene, Young Frankenstein, his best roles forgotten as Alzheimer’s sent Wonka to an end so rotten, Then Yorkshire born and Yorkshire bred, Jacko’s inspiration, Rod Temperton, was Yorkshire dead. Joined on the Viking burial barge by Jimmy Perry – they don’t like it up ‘em sarge.

Harper Lee wrote her final words, killing her instead of Mockingbirds, And Feck Arf Frank Kelly, Father Jack - no longer sweary but eternally smelly. Another whose work/life balance was overdrawn was the Man From Uncle actor, Robert Vaughan, And we learned Manuel was unwell as Andrew Sachs slipped through life’s fragile cracks.

A year of toil and watching stellar names shuffle off their mortal coil Not having had our fill of constant morbidity, We bade farewell to sporting greats: John Cruyff and Muhammad Ali.

Yet Katy Hopkins lives and breathes and spits her venom at refugees, And Sir Cliff Richard, he’s still here, protesting to the end that he’s not…going anywhere. And Donald Trump, his bloody face like a porcine rump, With promises to throw away, to be caught by the bigots of the KKK, The President erect, leader of the right-wing, white-wing, post-truth sect.

Brexit wrecks it, Jim’ll never fix it, and Cameron, disgraced, raced to a sharp exit, Intolerance and arrogance and dark, satanic hubris, The angriest year I’ve ever known, The Annus of Horribilis.

PS: I’m sure you’ve had your fill, But late news in, The sandman just got AA Gill.

And Zsa Zsa is no-more.


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