Yes, even as we speak the air-waves are full of the ongoing labour of You Know Who. Apparently it’s a girl, and we already know she will be heir to the throne: this is undoubtedly a Good Thing, and a sign that society is changing at the highest – and deepest – levels. Life’s a fleeting thing, though; and as one baby is born someone else dies. We have, as Hamlet observed, our exits and our entrances – or, to put it another way, a sparrow flies through a lighted hall, and that’s our life. We come from darkness and we go out into darkness, and the brief interlude in between is what we call la vie.
So farewell then… Mel. Yes, for it is he: Mel Smith of ‘Alas Smith and Jones’ and ‘Not the Nine o’clock News’; writer, broadcaster, performer and director, has died aged 60. Wild? He was absolutely livid! But the Guardian puts it better than I can:
RIP Mel. Here was your finest hour:
And since today is poetry day, here’s my favourite poem about death, which I would like read out at my funeral:
Death Be Not Proud
by John Donne
Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
I’ve more or less decided which poems I shall be doing for ‘Simon Says’ on Saturday. So come along and watch: