Thursday, 23 August 2012

Remembering Dickie H

I see the Scarborough Cricket Festival takes place next week. Ah the memories...
  Back in my boyhood days, I'd often be there, with my brother, neatly clad in our little sports jackets, enjoying the beautiful airy seaside ground, the comings and goings, the old geezers in white coats selling the Pink 'Un, and whatever was going on on the field. Those were Yorkshire's glory days - from the all-conquering Ray Illingworth team to Brian Close and the rise of a young bespectacled chap called Geoffrey Boycott - and the visitors always seemed to be having fun, cutting loose and giving it some welly. I remember seeing even the notoriously stroke-averse Australian Bill Lawry ('the corpse with pads on') whacking the ball all over the ground...
  Sometimes the stars of the summer shows would drop in too. One I remember seeing is Dickie Henderson, a comedian and entertainer who is no doubt forgotten now by everyone but me and my brother (and, I'll warrant, Malty). A short dapper chap, permatanned and nimble on his feet (he was a dancer as well), he was long on easy, not to say oily, charm and somewhat short on comic material. He had a relaxed air and a mid-Atlantic accent that suggested rather more sophistication than he possessed - but at least the accent, unlike the similar drawl affected by his pal and frequent collaborator Bob Monkhouse, was earned. Dickie spent much of his childhood in Hollywood, where his father, rotund singer and dancer Dick Henderson (who made the first British recording of Tiptoe Through the Tulips), was touring in vaudeville. As a child actor, young Dickie appeared in the film of Noel Coward's Cavalcade, and, with Cicely Courtneidge and Max Miller, in Things Are Looking Up. He was being seriously considered for the young David in George Cukor's David Copperfield when his father hauled him back to Blighty. And there he was, a quarter of a century later, topping the bill at the Floral Hall, Scarborough, and enjoying the hospitality at the cricket ground. I may be wrong, but he looked like a man who hadn't often said no to a drink.

11 comments:

  1. Remembered by you, your brother, Malty... and me.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Vague memories of that opium for the masses, Sunday Night at the London Palladium, so long ago, so naff. Little bloke, Mohair suit, thin black bow tie, cut away collar, patent leather shoes. Or was that Laurence Harvey.

    What is it I wonder, about the mid-Atlantic accent, when spoken by the British, Lulu for instance it sounds false, when adopted by Americans, Gore Vidal is an example, it sounds musical.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I treasure the comment made by the great Raymond Illingworth about the pompous EW Swanton, that he 'was such a snob, that he wouldn't travel in the same car as his chauffeur'. Dickie H rented a room in our house in Coventry in the late 50's, and dapper is the word. Dabbler too perhaps, as I remember he and my (single) mother seemed to hit it off. He was followed a few years later by a certain Harry Webb, a small, chubby, Indian-looking boy, who later changed his name and sang at Wimbledon.

    ReplyDelete
  4. A great Illingworth quote, m - thanks! 'Jim' Swanton indeed...
    As for young Harry Webb, he preceded me at my primary school, also attended a tin tabernacle in Carshalton, but graciously refused to contribute to its centenary appeal when he was rich and famous. A former neighbour dandled young Harry on his knee back in India - he was some kind of cousin - while down the road was a chap who dandled the young Dylan Thomas on his knee (but failed to take the opportunity to throttle him). A lot of celebrity dandling on that road.

    ReplyDelete
  5. M above is me, Nige. Got into a dreadful tangle trying (and failing) to prove I am not a robot. Any chance you could make those puzzles a bit easier?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'll see what I can do Mahlerman - I only started that lark because I came under Chinese attack. Maybe the coast's clear now...

    ReplyDelete
  7. My own favourite meeting in Scarborough, on he Scalby Mills train no less was the great Les Dawson srill to my mind the finest English stand-up of the last 50 years. I was but a child at the time and didnt think twice about bothering the great man sitting in the seats behind us with his own family. But despite my dads urgent shusshing Les was a total trouper said hello and shook hands with lets see....10 year old me?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ah yes - Les Dawson. I agree - our greatest stand-up, along with Ken Dodd (tho, with Dodd, you have to be there). I saw Les once at St Pancras, but he seemed preoccupied and in a hurry to get somewhere. Probably the bar...

    ReplyDelete
  9. I recall seeing Doddy too with Diddymen on tow. But that was in Brdford I think. I guess I never got Ken but then I was perhaps too young to appreciate and there was always the Knottyash baggage to get in the way

    ReplyDelete
  10. Saw Dickie H. in pantomime in Leeds I think it was. I must have been about 6! Long coach trip there, even longer one back. Night buses. Did he have something to do with an elephant? Oh and bless there was that incident on Parkinson when he suddenly fell silent... He cracked the punchline to a long-winded joke and nobody had noticed. 'That's it, that's the joke!' Parkinson snickered but was up to the great Bob Hope to ease his pain with 'Great joke Dickie, great joke'. Now where's that clip?

    Saw Doddy in Leeds an'll. Came back with plastic Diddy man.

    ReplyDelete