I was strangely moved when John Inman died on the 8th March. He was every stereotype I'd ever fought against, but at the same time a favourite camp character who had quietly and unknowingly subverted the country's prime time viewing.
To this day I often answer the phone at work with 'Menswear'.
If I was a queer theorist I'd have something very clever to say about the subversive nature of mainstream 70's prime time TV, but you'll be pleased to hear that I am not. But there is something there about how putting these characters onto the British tea table made them more acceptable, more usual, and maybe this played a part, however stereotypically, in today's road towards liberal equality?
As said I am no queer theorist, thank god (or your she god version of a non paternalistic higher being model) although I do feature in Bruce La Bruce's book 'The reluctant Pornographer' (1997). Let me see if I can remember what he said..................................
'But I regress, er, digress. Truly, I do like Paul a lot, even though tonight he has that annoying glow that people with new boyfriends have - and, even more annoyingly, his new boyfriend sitting besides him, seems nice enough. I still like his old boyfriend, William, though - another one of those Englishmen whose wit puts me in a perpetual state of giddiness. I and Alister, who also loves our William to death, will invite him to my farewell gathering at the Royal Oak in a few weeks.'
So there you go. I didn't plan on diary extracts from queer theorists tonight, but I did want to share the poem I wrote and had published on the BBC news website the day John Inman died.
John Inman RIP
Dear John you left us today
Up to the big department store in the sky
’72 till ’85 and then Grace and favour
You’re all doing very well
Ground floor perfumery stationery and leather goods
Wigs and haberdashery kitchenware and food
Are you free Mr Humphries?
That’s what they’d all cry
When the phone rang you said ‘menswear’ in a deep butch voice
But you were celebrated for your high camp
Molly’s still alive, Frank Thornton too
Wendy on the box today face like thunder
You played the dame for many years
Saw you sing on the good old days
You said there were only two types of Lamb
Welsh and Harrods
So farewell Frederick John Inman
You were born on 28 June, 1935, in Preston, Lancashire
I hope Ron will be OK
Ade says its Dan next and he’s bringing holy water
In other news - Evie sitting up on her own!! and I have applied for two new jobs - one at the beeb and one at the audit commission. Also as Evelyn Ward reaches 98 and Rory Green turns 10, Merlin Godwin has passed away at the grand old age of 20! Prayers and thoughts go to Mary and Chris.
All the best from the West,