10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A forgotten gem,
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This review is from: Mr Lonely (Paperback)I vaguely remember hearing Eric Morecambe being interviewed on the radio about this book, and his being asked why he had written such a sad tale. This must have put me off , because I had not read it, even though I am a lifelong M&W fan, loving their "Two of a Kind" shows when I was a child, and then of course their marvelous BBC series in the 70s. The excellent BBC2 play "Eric & Ernie" at Christmas somehow reminded me that Eric had written a couple of books, so I decided to search for them.
Sid, "Mr Lonely", is an unpleasant character, but a brilliant comedian. He habitually deceives his wife, treats women as commodities, and his racial attitudes are antedeluvian. At his heart is a void.
This book seems to me to be about the futility, emptiness and transience of fame, the fragility of life; of how you tend to reap a bitter harvest from your misdeeds. It is also about the tragedy of how happiness evades us because the timing of events is slightly out, like a farce gone awry.
It is a mistake, I think, to confuse the attitudes of the character, Sid, with the intentions of the author. Sid is meant to be unpleasant (but talented), and is depicted as such, although with some sympathy as to why he became more like that than he could have been.
"Mr Lonely" seems more relevant today than it perhaps was when it was first published, because the culture of celebrity has taken over our society almost completely. People will, it seems, sell their souls for a few minutes in the spotlight. Eric was well ahead of his time in putting his finger on that one. This book is, after thirty or so years, an interesting social history document, because it describes the now disappeared mid-twentieth century world of club/end of the pier/early TV entertainers, and it was written by someone who was there.
I thoroughly enjoyed "Mr Lonely", and had to keep picking it up and reading a bit more until I reached the end. It is a forgotten gem, a tragic farce, which should be more widely known.
And lastly - we've got a particularly cute teddy bear in our church, for the children to play with. He is known as "Gladly-the-Cross-Eyed-Bear", and once he had a sermon preached about him. Now, with some astonishment, I know where his name came from! You'll have to read the book to find out.