A Clerihew For Charles Hawtrey

2 Oct

A clerihew is a funny little poem. Charles Hawtrey was a funny little man.

I was introduced to Hawtrey (weren’t we all?) through the Carry On films, in twenty-three of which he played such roles as Sir Roger de Lodgerley, Eustace Tuttle and Private James Widdle.

I was introduced, yesterday, by George Szirtes, to the clerihew.  Szirtes invited friends on Facebook to contribute a few on the topics of Irish writers, the world of film and stars of TV and radio (lovely to see stars of radio mentioned).

Charles Hawtrey

Soon there were a couple of hundred on there. I wrote a few. This one I was pleased with:

A Clerihew For Charles Hawtrey

Charles Hawtrey
had a thought: re
fame’s long idyll
I was Private Widdle.

(PS: I have yet to read a biography of Charles Hawtrey but have always remembered this one fact my A Level Drama teacher Justine Wenman told me about him- that onstage he could laugh ‘indefinitely.’ 

At home, whenever he appeared on the telly, which would have been quite often, my brother being a huge fan of the Carry Ons,  my mother could always, without fail, be relied upon to say “He had an awful death. He lost his legs.”

My mother is very much one for retaining and repeating single facts about people. How pleased I was to hear Bridget Jones’ mother routinely describe the Jap(ane)s(e) as “a cruel race” as this was also some of my own mother’s imparted wisdom. Watching ‘Steptoe & Son’ it was always “They’re both dead. He died first.” And finally this has put me in mind of the hilarious scene in ‘Carry On Camping’ where Peter Butterworth as campsite owner Mr Fiddler charges Sid James and Bernard Bresslaw a pound for every little thing (booking fee, rent, etc); when watching this scene once with my mother she was genuinely aggrieved at Mr Fiddler’s greed. “Cheeky bastard.”) 

Charles Hawtrey as Private Widdle in 'Carry On Up The Khyber'



One Response to “A Clerihew For Charles Hawtrey”

  1. Barton Young April 4, 2012 at 5:27 PM #

    One of the benefits of Facebook’s Timeline that rolls out for everyone tomorrow is that I was able to rescue some of the other clerihews I wrote that afternoon on George Szirtes’ page:

    Judy Garland
    Lived in star land
    Hollywood to you and I
    A sad star in a spotlit sky

    Lauren Bacall
    Best whistler of all
    Now a lovely old fogey
    Like her ex, Bogie.

    Clara Bow,
    So few people know,
    Was wonderful, tragic,
    Had ‘It,’ magic.

    Peter Sissons
    Rarely listens.
    He simply speaks.
    The news he leaks.

    Tony Hancock
    ‘s dreams were landlocked;
    he died in Australia
    trembling at failure.

    There were some great ones posted. You get the idea by now? I’d love to read more if anyone has any they want to post.

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