Thursday 28 June 2018
It's 50 years since Tony Hancock died, and the BBC's 'Radio 4 Extra' recently paid homage to the great man. It reminded me of the following.
Hancock came to live on the edge of my Surrey village in the late 1950's (?). The first visual manifestation of his presence was an abandoned white Mercedes 300 SL Roadster by the village war memorial and pond, that his girlfriend (later wife) Freddie had crashed whilst drunk. The crumpled car stayed there for about two weeks; goodness knows why!
Hancock had bought (or more likely rented) a pleasant house next-door to a friend of my fathers', on the outskirts of Lingfield, towards Blindley Heath. My father's friend was quite excited at having such a famous new neighbour, but did his best to hide his enthusiasm. He simply presumed that at some time they'd meet, and wisely decided not to rush round with his autograph book.
One day, he saw Hancock striding up his drive. He immediately presumed that he had come to introduce himself; in fact he's come to complain that he could see their washing line from his sitting room window, and demanded that it be re-positioned.
That was their one and only encounter, and my father's friend was extremely happy when Hancock eventually moved on.
It's well known that Hancock was a difficult man. He was seriously alcoholic, and had 'demons'. Regardless, I always loved his shows, and listening again recently to several episodes of Hancock's Half Hour was a real pleasure.