16 Nov 2004

It’s going … It’s going … Done for!

“Will we be observing a two minutes silence for him?” Joan asked with her eyebrows knotted in concern.

Bolton has come to a stand still as it buries its ‘favourite son’ Fred Dibnah. It’s not the first time he’s brought the town to gridlock – his bleedin’ traction engine made sure of that – but this time it is for his funeral procession. Shops have closed. People have lined the streets.

Not a bad showing for someone who knocked down chimneys for a living. He was Britain’s first ever ‘reality tv’ star, a pro-type Jade Goody if you will, and was probably the first and last time you’ll ever see the words ‘celebrity’ and ‘steeplejack’ put together.

At school, I was doing Fred impressions while everyone else was still doing Frank Spenser – I still get requests. Although we never met, I like to think I had an impact on his life as I once bumped into his wife Alison at the library. She was looking puzzled so I helped her to find the ‘feminist sociology’ section. Weeks later she divorced him saying he was an out-moded chauvinist who was living in the past. Who knows, if I’d shown her to the ‘canals and waterways’ section, the course of history may have been changed.

Life goes on. “Get back on the phones Joan.”

She tried the same last week for Arafat.