By KATE HUNTER.
This morning I saw something on Facebook that changed my day – possibly my week, hopefully my life.
A friend had posted a link to a website called www.lettersofnote.com.
On it was a transcript of a telegram sent by comedian Peter Sellers to fellow Goon Show creator Spike Milligan. (Younger readers might need to Google the Goon Show – a BBC radio program hugely popular in the sixties).
It is one of the saddest, happiest paragraphs I’ve ever read:
28 MAY 80
MR SPIKE MILLIGAN
DEAR SPIKE I AM DESPERATE TO HAVE SOME REAL FUN AGAIN WITH YOU AND HARRY. PLEASE CAN WE GET TOGETHER AND WRITE SOME MORE GOON SHOWS? WE COULD PLACE THEM ANYWHERE I DONT WANT ANY MONEY I WILL WORK JUST FOR THE SHEER JOY OF BEING WITH YOU BOTH AGAIN AS WE WERE.
Peter Sellers was unwell when he sent the telegram. Just two months later, he died of a heart attack.
I got a bit teary when I read it – he must have been so sad, so lonely when he sent it. Then, a little while later, I felt envious of him. Of a sick man.
I was envious because Sellers, together with Milligan and Harry Secombe created something that did nothing but make people (themselves included) laugh until they could barely breathe.
Sellers’ job was a joy. He worked with people he loved. How many people can say that?
At the end of it all, Sellers wanted not more money or more fame, but a few more laughs with his mates. That spoke volumes to me.
It made me glad that on Friday I’m having lunch with my best friends from school. Embarrassingly, I loved school – my memories are mostly of my friends and I tanning our legs on the walkways and laughing ourselves stupid about the nuns, our hideous uniform and the tuckshop convenor with the unfortunate name of Mrs Kochout.
Those years weren’t one big belly laugh, sure. There were exams and detentions and maths. But the good far outweighs the bad, and I’m lucky I have those memories, because plenty don’t.
For some people, uni was that golden period, where everything was new and fun and they felt they truly belonged.
My mum says her happiest time was when my brothers and sisters and I were little. Her friends all had babies at the same time and agree those years were fantastic. It was the sixties, of course, so they smoked and drank and didn’t worry about sunscreen.
Other people enjoy their jobs so much, they prefer being at work to anywhere else, at least for a while. Colleagues become friends and those friendships survive when the jobs dissolve.
The trick, surely, is to appreciate the fun times are when they happen. But maybe that’s impossible. Perhaps it’s time, illness or loneliness that makes an eye- watering laugh with a friend more appealing, and more evasive than anything else – money, fame, even health.
Sellers doesn’t say he wants to run the New York Marathon or to see Machu Picchu, he just wants some ‘real fun’.
Don’t we all?
When was the happiest time of your life? Are you living it now?