Tag Archives: Lynne Thelwall

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'