Beast of Burden
Sorry, I keep spelling shouldn't wrong.
This is a real weird combination of anguish and hedonism --- but that's not uncommon. When I was at my worst, drinking every night down the Italian bar winter '05, enjoying myself a lot and meeting loads of great people and pissing all my wages away on dinner and booze and fags and good conversation, my life was a wreck, and sober I had constant stomach cramps because of terror and self-loathing. Would hate to be like that at 65 though. This is giving me chills.
It was sad, but not altogether surprising, to hear of the death of TV chef and noted bon viveur Keith Floyd. A couple of years ago, I had a chance meeting with Keith in the surprising surroundings of the Olde Vic pub in Edgeley. This was the finishing point of an Edgeley Stagger, I had certainly enjoyed a few drinks over the course of the evening and so, by the looks of it, had Keith.
His presence there was explained by the fact that the owner of the pub (who is not the same person as the licensee) was acting as his driver and general minder during a tour of his one-man show Floyd Uncorked: the life of a Bon Viveur, following Keith’s latest and, it would turn out, last drink-driving conviction. They had called in to the Olde Vic on the way between a show in Keswick and the minder’s home in Stoke.
Keith was 63 at the time, and it has to be said he didn’t look a well-preserved 63, with his trademark floppy forelock reduced to a few strands, but no doubt he could still scrub up well for a public appearance. Predictably, he expressed his concerns about the future of the pub trade following the smoking ban (which turned out to be entirely justified), and, perhaps more surprisingly, said that he felt the gastro-pub trend had gone too far and was now ruining the character of many pubs. I can well understand why he thought that, as he was always a strong believer in authenticity and a critic of pretension.
Sadly, on the Keith Allen TV programme which aired on Monday (14/9/09), the night of his death, he seemed a frail shadow of his former self, and aged well beyond his 65 years, although his mind was clearly still as sharp as ever. It can’t be said that in his last days he was a great advertisement for a bibulous lifestyle, but he lived life to the full – he was married and divorced four times – and given the chance to live his life again I doubt whether he would have it any other way. Apparently, although he had recently been diagnosed with bowel cancer, his most recent medical gave his liver a clean bill of health.