Could there be anyone more typically British than this, sadly missed, individual? Anyone more eccentric? Methinks not and even though he was often compared or likened to being the English Frank Zappa, he was, as far as I am concerned, even wackier than that much-respected gent.
A founding member of the legendary (or should that be lunatic?) group The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. Writer, artist and all round wanton wacko. His radio series, as featured on the John Peel show, was outrageously funny. Viv was a man who elected to wear his chosen character in much the same way you or I would wear clothes. Born of working class parents who, only wanting the best for their boy, had the young Victor Anthony Stanshall speak only as if he were of Middle-Class origins. This caused problems as a child with the local cockneys so the young Stanshall would then switch to speaking as if he were a cockney.
His voice though was cream custard without the lumps. Marmalade rich and glorious as Berkshire. He sounded every bit the English gent, the toady waxstaff, the effete hedonist, the rough-necked cockney, all gruff and lewd.
Then there was his film...
Sir Henry at Rawlinson's End has been described as being the missing link between Withnail and I and Monty Python. I think that is a fair and fitting description but it doesn't go half way near enough to illustrating just how wilfully inventive this man could be or how funny.
|"And looking very relaxed, Adolf Hitler on vibes!"|
Some years ago I bought a copy of Sir Henry at Rawlinson's End, or rather my Mother did. As barmy as a bag of frogs, the film, not me Mum, but a terrific film all the same and quite unique too. Very surreal. Another recommendation would be to get hold of, if you still can, a copy of his album, 'Teddy Boys Don't Knit which is remarkably surreal but very funny.
A man of constant contradictions. Able to switch from one persona to another with the twitch of an arched eyebrow. From upper-class twit to a gay boy in camp mode, he was irresistible, incorrigible, insane. And boy could he belch. Not even Motorhead could beat him for volume when he gave forth a raucous burp.
His end came like Byron's, undignified, inglorious. He was found dead in his flat following a fire. We all knew he was matchless even when he burnt his candle at three ends.
. . . Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers but keeps his navel fluff tidy