THE UNFORGETTABLE SPIKE MILLIGAN

-
Spike Milligan There was a song that I recall my mother once sang to me. She sang it as she tucked me in when I was aged ninety-three. It went: Ying tong, ying tong, ying tong, ying tong, ying tong yiddle I po. Ying tong, ying tong, ying tong, ying tong, ying tong yiddle I poeeeeeee. Or maybe it was something else said in this 60-minute documentary produced in 2010. I thank you.


Milligan's Meaning of Life



THE STORY:
Born in India. Fought in the second world war. And is now known to be one of the most creative, and funniest, manic-depressives known to mankind. Still. Who is Spike Milligan? The archive footage seen in this retrospective can only show us so much. Plus the narrator of this piece, Martin Glyn Murray, sounds too sad to really say what's on his mind.

But wait a minute! Maybe these pre-selected interviewees can tell us what it's like to have known the man who once called Prince Charles a 'Grovelling little bastard'?

  • Desmond Milligan (brother) -- India was a bright, colourful, and spectacular world to us when we were kids. Then we moved to London.
  • Reg Bennett (army pal) -- Spike was like a medicine to us during the war. His humor was miraculous.
  • Eric Sykes (co-writer) -- We formed an alliance between us, and got ourselves an agent.
  • Beryl Vertue (agent) -- Spike and the guys had a very altruistic attitude towards writing.
  • Paul Merton (comedian) -- Spike liked humanity, but he didn't like humans.
  • Joseph McGrath (director) -- There is no country in the world with humor like the English. Please remember, this is coming from a Scottish man!
  • Terry Jones (python) -- 'The Goon Show' became a fundamental ritual for me and my family whilst growing up.
  • John Antrobus (writer) -- Spike was very happy to end a scene whenever he wanted it to end.
  • Alan Simpson (writer) -- Pppppt!
  • Ray Galton (another writer) -- You could be speaking to Spike, and suddenly his eyes would melt. He wasn't with us anymore.
  • Silé Harrower (daughter) -- My Mum once told me that my Dad didn't win custody of me and my siblings. We were awarded wards of the state by the court. But she still thought it best if we lived with him.
  • Laura Milligan (eldest daughter) -- My Dad painted one of the walls in our bedroom black, so he could use it to tell us stories with. That's how he created 'BadJelly The Witch'.
  • Norma Farnes (manager) -- Spike had an affinity for children. They never hurt him.
  • Jane Milligan (youngest daughter) -- One day, Dad rung me up and told me that he had a child in 1975 with another woman. Then he quickly put the phone down and called my brother and sisters.
  • Shelagh Milligan (the last of his three wives) -- Romany was very adult about the whole situation, and was happy to have know Spike in the way that she did.
  • Romany (his daughter via Roberta Watt) -- I was very happy to meet him. When we first met, I went up to him and gave him a big hug.

And with that, all the little pixies and the big fairies floated back to the magical garden, so Spike could live on in infamy and beyond.

Love light and peace, buddy. Say no more.




THE REVIEW:
Believe it or not, this morning I went to a friend's funeral. Sad affair it was. A mate of mine's Dad suddenly died of heart failure. His heart stopped in one place, and he stopped somewhere else. Southgate Cemetery

The funny thing about this though, was that throughout the service, I couldn't help but wonder about Spike. Spike Milligan. Partly because I knew I was going to review this retrospective -- 'The Unforgettable Spike Milligan'. Partly because the nice man who died is someone I still hold close to my heart -- like Spike. And partly because life and death are very strange bedfellows indeed -- forcing people to think about those people they know and love.

Spike Milligan - Not Dead Yet, I Think
Here, check out what I know and love about this creative genius called Spike. (1) Terrance Allen Milligan was born in Ahmednagar, India, on the 16th of April, 1918, and died in Rye, England, on the 27th of February, 2002. In total, this makes him 83 years, 10 months, and 11 days old. (2) When Spike and his family moved to England from India, they lived in an attic flat situated at number 8, Ringstead Road, Catford. Just across the street from where I live. (3) Did you know that 'The Goon Show' was originally entitled 'Crazy People' for its first year? Eventually Spike renamed it to 'Goon', because he was inspired by a character of the same name in the cartoon 'Popeye'. (4) Although Spike influenced comedians such as 'Monty Python', 'Beyond The Fringe', and Eddie Izzard [click on links for the reviews], he himself was influenced by Flann O'Brien, Groucho Marx, W. C. Fields, Edward Lear, and Spike Jones. In fact, one of the reasons why he was called 'Spike'; was because he was a trumpeter who played like the aforementioned musician, Mister Jones. (5) It is believed that Spike helped famed film-director, Stanley Kubrick, define the ending to his war-time satire, 'Dr. Strangelove', when Stanley's original ending never turned out in the way that he planned. (6) Spike wasn't too keen on 'forced humor; and he once defined an American based sitcom as being 'As funny as a baby with cancer'. (7) When he heard the tragic news that his good friend on the 'Goon Show', Peter Sellers, had died, Spike spent over a week in bed with depression. Well, I think that's what she was called! (8) I kid you not, Spike wanted to die by being crushed to death by a falling Elephant. Better luck next life, pal.


Spike, Peter, and Harry - The Goons


Sigh! Sad, isn't it? Thinking about someone that has passed a way. It makes you ponder on such topics as mortality, health, life, and death, whilst continually speculating what people might say about you once you've pissed off to the unknown.

Spike Milligan in the phone
Well, let's face facts, does 'The Unforgettable Spike Milligan', define who Spike really was? No. Not really. But then again, how could it? He was a creator. A womanizer. A comedian. A colleague. A performer. A friend. A humanitarian. A crazy-man. A father. A brother. A husband. And a funny-sod I wished that I met at least once in my life.

But no. He's gone now. To the big Goon Show in the sky, singing the 'Ning Nang Nong' with Peter and Harry. Still, I can take some solace in the praise his children have bestowed upon him in this retrospective. All of them -- plus the noted writers and comedians -- really do paint a very clear and conceptual picture of who Spike was as a person.

Granted, nothing too in-depth as a 'complete piece' in its own right! Oh no. Rather, an abridged version of his life in prose.

Yeah. That sounds about right. What do you think, Spike?




Ha! Enough said.

THE RATING: B+