At the end of last week I posted a piece in which Anna Smith, this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent, fleetingly mentioned the late, great – or, at least, highly OTT – performer Ian Hinchliffe.
He is less-known than, say, Malcolm Hardee but is much-talked-of and vividly remembered by those who encountered him.
On the few occasions I met him, I found he was always fascinating but better when he was only slightly rather than very drunk – so there was sometimes a narrow window of opportunity.
“I once,” Sonny told me, “saw him covered in puke attempting to console a crying hippie. It happened at Walcot Festival (Bath Arts Workshop).
“A guy had lost his guitar or something and was being comforted by a hippie girl who was telling him to let it all out… Hinchcliffe – pissed and covered in puke – decided to cuddle the guy, consoling him with the words There, there, don’t cry.
“The malodour from the beer and puke must have been quite overwhelming and, between sobs, it showed in the guy’s face. He just wanted to get away.
“But a dispute arose between the girl and Hinchliffe as to whether or not crying was dangerously suppressing emotion. This caused Hinchliffe to hug the guy even tighter in a fit of Yorkshire compassion.
“I suspect the guy had been hoping to get laid by the hippie girl but the puke-covered Hinchliffe coming to his rescue rather put a damper on that possibility.”
Sonny’s anecdote, in turn, reminded Anna Smith of the first time she ever saw Ian Hinchliffe:
“He was staggering about on a large stage in a busy pub in North East London,” she told me, “then he collapsed onto a knife he had set on the floor.
“He stood up, pulled the knife out of his chin and said sweetly, There you go, ladies and gentlemen – Kirk Douglas, while blood streamed down his face.”
Actor Kirk Douglas had – indeed, at the time of writing, has – a famously cleft chin.
Until I checked, I thought Kirk Douglas was dead.
Ian drowned while fishing on a lake in Arkansas on 3rd December 2010.
So it goes.