Sunday, 1 March 2009

Off the wall: Spike Milligan

Spike Milligan, ‘a hero with coward’s legs’, was something of a hero to me growing up. Comedy writer and performer, poet, jazz musician, playwright and campaigner, he suffered from manic-depression (bipolar disorder), thought to have resulted from shellshock in the WW2, which made him a part-time genius. Known as the Comedian’s Comedian, he wrote and performed in over 250 episodes of The Goon Show for BBC radio in the ‘50s, then did the ‘Q’ series on television from 1969-82. Both shows had a huge influence on British comedy, including Monty Python. His comedic style mixed surreal situations with a kind of dogged literal-mindedness, subverting both logic and language itself.
"My Father had a profound influence on me, he was a lunatic."
"Are you going to come quietly, or do I have to use earplugs?"
"A sure cure for seasickness is to sit under a tree."
This drawing ‘I am afraid of the dark’ is another one on the wall close to my workspace. It comes from a book of poetry called ‘Small Dreams of a Scorpion’ published in 1972.

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