Eccentric inventor and designer of trophies for the late Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards, John Ward also writes a weekly column Ward’s World for that esteemed publication the Spalding Guardian.
Yesterday, they published a piece by him about anarchic politician and comic rock ‘n’ roller ‘Screaming’ Lord Sutch who committed suicide 20 years ago this week.
Perhaps that should have read ‘comic politician and anarchic rock ‘n’ roller’.
Screaming Lord Sutch holds the record for losing in UK Parliamentary elections – more than 40 between 1963-1997.
Since the article was published yesterday, there has been a lot of reaction and feedback.
John Ward tells me:
The key question asked is why he committed suicide.
Nobody really knows. In these cases, how can anybody be in a position to really know for sure? The recorded ‘verdict’ is one thing; the real reason only he knew.
He used to ring me at odd hours to talk about anything ‘daft’ or run ideas past me. The general feeling is he was a manic depressive behind the mask. (Think of Tony Hancock maybe?)
On one occasion, he rang to ask if I knew we were both on the same page of a Time-Life book – part of a series titled Library of Curious and Unusual Facts – he pointed out he didn’t mind sharing the page with me!
Another time, he rang to ask if I was busy. He put the phone down at his end, then I heard things being moved about which lasted about five minutes or so. Then he came back to the phone to tell me he had moved his mother’s sideboard around, then her display cabinet which she had her china pieces in, then he proudly told me that he had had a ‘cabinet reshuffle’.
His mum (glad she and mine never mingled!!!!!) was a card in her own right.
I rang on one occasion to speak to him – they lived in the same house in Harrow – and, bearing in mind the many times I had spoken to her before, she asked:
“How do you know my David? Did you vote for him? How do you know I’m his mother cos you called me Mrs Sutch and he don’t have a wife you know, not now anyway…”
It was worse if you forgot the time of day and rang while he was in bed. Most days he rose after 1 or 2 in the afternoon – like most in the ‘show business’ as he would have got home in the early hours of the morning after a gig.
She would usually say: “My David is in bed – I’ll go and get him/fetch him – hang on.”
Then she would put the phone down on the table in the hall and you heard her go clumping up the stairs, stand at the top of the landing and then shout out:
“David – are you still asleep or not?” (!)
After a muffled reply from his door, it was then clump-clump-clump back down the stairs and she would pick up the phone and say:
“I think he’s coming down…”
Not 100% positive, mind – just ‘think’.
This could take anything from mere minutes to hearing “Your tea’s ready and on the table” at my end before he came to the phone.
But, in fairness, he didn’t clump-clump-clump down the stairs.
It was so surreal it reminded me of The Goons with Minnie Bannister & Co…
“Is that you, Min?”
“Oh… You’re not sure?… I’ll ask you later then, when you know…”
I am glad I was in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ otherwise I would never have met this amazing and unique man.
John tells how he met Sutch in his Spalding Guardian piece.
This is an edited version…
Initially I had no idea I would ever be meeting David Edward Sutch but we were both individually booked to appear on a late-night television chat show some years ago – rather inspiringly called The James Whale Radio Show – that went out late from (then) Yorkshire TV in Leeds, live on a Friday night.
We got on okay as we did the show, which suffered a minor power cut live on air due to a blizzard hitting the area, but we coped.
Afterwards, we eventually got back to our hotel at about half past one in the morning, going through snow drifts with our driver complaining he was cold though he had a fur coat on.
Back at the hotel, we realised there was no chance of getting a bite to eat at that hour but, as we had rooms opposite each other, we took our kettles out onto the landing, plugged in and then brewed up a cuppa each, nibbled on the small packets of complimentary biscuits as we chatted and put the world to rights – It always seems to work better sitting on a decent bit of floral patterned carpet and supping tea.
A few months afterwards, after phone calls and assorted meet ups, he made me his ‘Minster of Inventions’ as he was then the leader/instigator of the Monster Raving Loony Party.
For the life of me I could not work out why or how I had upset him so much that he would bestow such a title on me but, in fairness, I never asked.
Our ‘best’ achievement between us – his idea, my design – was a ‘Manifesto Muncher’.
He used to throw other political parties’ written manifestos into it and it churned them out again in the form of toilet rolls – so at least the end product was something to go on.
Lovely sense of humour – Why can’t all politics be like this?
Even though he is no longer with us, the interest in him now, twenty years after his death, never ceases to wane although we live in an age where supposed ‘celebrity’ is seemingly an everyday commodity. No sooner do we get used to one supposed ‘celeb’ then another comes along.
But no sign of there being another David Edward Sutch so far – or even anything like him. And, like him or not, it’s a safe bet he will still be remembered in years to come.