Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Kiss of Death

I was sorry to hear about the death of Steve Irwin. Sorry because he was a passionate man, cared about the environment and left a young family.

But a tiny, nasty, selfish part of me is sorry because an article that I wrote about crocodiles will now have to be rewritten or shelved. This is by no means the first time that this has happened. A few examples:

– A radio play, Final Score, abandoned half-way through writing when Len Martin (read out the football results on Grandstand – everyone over a certain age remembers trying to predict the score from his rising or falling intonation) died. The play would have made no sense in a world without him.

– Another radio play, hastily rewritten just before recording to change a reference to the recently deceased Emlyn Hughes. It was only one line that needed changing, but I was never happy with the replacement by Howard Wilkinson. All I could think about during the broadcast was that I should have gone with Alan Ball instead, though even he wouldn’t have summed up the exact Emlyn Hughes-ness required by the set-up. Emlyn Hughes was perfect – why did he have to die? Why, God?

– An article for a national newspaper that jokingly referred to fatal rail crashes. The target was the privatised rail industry, not the victims, but it was still hastily pulled when a train ploughed into a car on a level crossing. Never subsequently published, probably because there has never been an acceptable time period since during which there have been no fatal rail crashes.

– A radio sketch about how the broadcast schedules would be moved around when the Queen Mother died. Written, submitted, accepted and pulled all in the week when, yes, the Queen Mother finally died.

I am beginning to worry that I have some kind of curse, and that everyone I write about dies soon afterwards. I am sure that a statistician would tell me that there is nothing out of the ordinary going on, but I do sometimes wonder if I should change careers. For the innocent victims, not myself, obviously. Alternatively:

“It was a dark and stormy night. Robert Kilroy-Silk, Carol Vorderman, Michael Winner, Linda Barker, Guy Ritchie, Rhona Cameron, James Blunt, Anne Robinson and Jeremy Clarkson were gathered in the library. Esther Rantzen was there as well. And the cast of Big Brothers 1-7. And the man who invented the Crazy Frog ringtone. And my neighbour whose car alarm went off last night. They were all gathered to watch a musical by Ben Elton...”