Sunday, 20 September 2009

In Memoriam

It's been a sad few months for me.

Several of my childhood heroes have bitten the dust and two within the space of a few days.

Culminating most recently in the demise of Keith Floyd.

Cook extraordinare. He hated the term 'chef' and revolutionised tv cookery programmes in the UK. In his trademark bowtie, he and long-suffering director/producer, David Prichard, took this medium by the scruff of the neck and dragged it into a whole new era.

Floyd cooked outdoors everywhere. With a portable gas stove and the freshest of local ingredients and adapting the recipes of the countries he visited, he did Fish, he did France, he did Italy, India, the Far East. He cooked and directed, never being afraid to berate the cameraman for focussing on him and not the food. It was the cooking that was the star, not him, as far as he was concerned. And, of course, he always slurped as he cooked. The drinking, the bowtie and the copious amounts of garlic he threw into everything were his signature dishes.

His business ventures into restaurants always went belly up because he was the most convivial of hosts and trusted his financial advisers and staff far too much. His drinking and rumbustious habits took him through several wives and left him frail but unbowed.

On Monday, Channel 4 showed the programme 'Keith on Keith', where Keith Allen interviewed him. It was a strange programme where Floyd seemed to take charge of the direction of the filming and then announced that his estranged daughter was arriving for a reconciliation on camera. The other Keith refused to film the initial meeting but they all spent an evening together, ending with lots of drunking singing.

The following day, there was a large lunch in which the hung over Floyd behaved very badly. It is this type of behaviour which I remember so well from my own father's drinking days. I truly felt for Poppy.

Two days after the programme went out, 65-year-old Floyd was dead. He had returned to the UK from France for chemotherapy for bowel cancer but died of a heart attack a few hours after enjoying a final fabulous meal which included partridge and oysters, shrimp and champagne.

Floyd pic courtesy of:

A few days earlier, the gorgeous Patrick Swayze succumbed to the pancreatic cancer he had been fighting for two years. He was 57.

I first remember him in North and South, an American series about the Civil War. Whilst everyone raves about his performance in Dirty Dancing and I love his song 'She's like the Wind', it was Ghost that really did it for me.

He was such a beautiful man that, whilst filming, Demi Moore was reduced to stuttering gobbledegook and was forever forgetting her lines because she was so in awe of him.

Patrick pic courtesy of:

And, finally, a few months ago, Farrah Fawcett Majors lost her long-running battle with cancer. Icon of my teenage years. We all wanted to be Farrah and I had my own bleached blonde highlighted mane with those curious flick ups.

I watched the film about her treatment and slow decline, the various surgeries, the love of her family, friends and long-term lover, Ryan O'Neal, with great sadness.

Farrah pic courtesy of:

May they all rest in peace.


Transylvanian Miss said...

I hate cancer, it always takes the best! Death in general :( lovely post a nice reminder of those gone before.

nitebyrd said...

I'm not familar with Keith Floyd but he sounds like my kind of cook.

It's almost like a slap in the face when "stars" that you've more or less grown up with die. It's doubly hard when they are stricken while still so vital. I've felt badly that Farrah's brave fight and untimely death was so overshadowed by Michael Jackson's. She fought for her life with all her strength, he seemed to court death with a multitude of drugs. Sad.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Floydie was the greatest TV cook of them all. I wish I could have cooked a meal for him with a bottle of red wine to wash it down.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't realized Floyd had died. Used to watch his cooking show faithfully on PBS. I knew he was unwell, but I'm sorry to hear that.