Friday, 29 March 2013

In lieu of ephemera

You may think I had forgotten I was even writing a blog, it's been such a long time since the last post. The problem has been not so much nothing to say as too much to say, and while I could wax lyrical on the topic of the snow and cold (again), the papal election (very corrupt back in the High Renaissance but at least they didn't have twitter then), cats vs dogs, gay marriage equality in the US, Chris Huhne vs Richard III and the BBC's sense of timing when covering the press announcement of the latter (some of us on Facebook got quite worked up about that)... well, it all passes. Even my latest project, about which I am not going fully public until things are firmed up rather more, will get no publicity here yet.

Instead, before March has passed without a single entry, I am going to write my own tribute to the late Richard Griffiths, whose death has been announced today: aged 65, from complications following heart surgery. Skimming through IMDB, I see he was in 'Chariots of Fire' (Head Porter at Caius College) and 'Superman II' (Terrorist #3), but we first noticed him in a short series called 'Bird of Prey', a thriller set in the exciting new world of hi-tech crime. We probably vaguely noticed him in 'Whoops Apocalypse!' but there were so many well-known faces doing bit-parts, it would have been hard to stand out in that. We were delighted when there was a second series of 'Bird of Prey', and then Withnail happened and it seemed that suddenly everyone knew who he was. All this, of course, was before the days of the internet and being able to google someone's cv at a moment's notice and before we had acquired the necessary dosh to go to the theatre regularly. We had no idea then he was a member of the RSC with a whole slew of stage-parts to his name. I sadly missed him in 'The History Boys' as we didn't get to see that until its second run with a slightly different cast, but we did see him in 'Equus' and 'The Habit of Art', in both of which he was excellent. His run in 'Pie in the Sky' brought him back to primetime TV and regularly amused the downtrodden by showing the apparent bumbler refusing to kowtow to those who don't know best. Now, of course, a whole generation know him as the bullying Uncle Vernon from the Harry Potter franchise but for me he will always be the mild-mannered computer programmer Henry Jay, at the centre of an entertaining conspiracy. Those who worked with him have commented in other places about the joy of working with such a professional, though he was also a man who had to do late-night shopping in supermarkets like the rest of us who allow life to take up the better part of the day. An ordinary man yet an extraordinary man.

Rest In Peace, Richard Griffiths. You will be much missed.


  1. Good to see you blogging again. Sad occasion though. Too young to die.

  2. I had often wondered about his health, given his physique. But yes, far too young.