Monday, June 5, 2017

Farewell, Mr. Sallis

“Mind how you go, Gladys. Best of luck from all us pigeons.”

-- Norman Clegg, bidding farewell to the pigeon he released after the funeral of Compo Simmonite
Peter Sallis may be Norman Clegg. He may be Wallace of the Wrong Trousers.
But to me, Peter Sallis will always be a connection to my father.
I have to admit it was Compo Dad likes most, with his scruffy clothes and insatiable admiration for Nora Batty, aside from her wrinkled stockings.
But as Dad sat and watched and laughed at Compo’s shenanigans during his weekly viewing of Last of the Summer Wine on PBS, it was often Cleggy I noticed.

Now Clegg, like Dad, is gone.
Clegg, the quiet, often mousy man, caught in the middle of Compo and Foggy – Last of the Summer Wine will always be Clegg, Compo, and Foggy – is the man I noticed most. He so wanted life to be quiet, to be left to him to putter away his remaining years. He never had much fun in life, or so it seems – he claimed his light of passion went out when he was all of twenty-three). He’s much like me, I think (except my light’s still going, fortunately enough). Happy to go along with Compo and Foggy, but certainly happy when the adventure was over and he could have a pint or a cuppa.
He knew he was a pigeon, and quietly relished it.
Yes, he was part of a trio that never really grew up. But he was more often than not the adult in the room, even if he was impish.
Kinda like Dad. Dad never really grew up. Even in his later years, he wanted goats in the back yard. He loved driving his 1948 Ford truck, or his 1985 Nissan ZX, or the ’47 Willys Jeep we had – in which I learned to drive, even if Dad was the one shifting the gears.
Dad was the kind of quiet guy who quietly knew everyone.
I hear a lot of Dad in Norman Clegg:
Vicar: How’re you keeping?
Clegg: Me bowel’s playing up a bit. God moves in mysterious ways.
Clegg: It used to be a tradition here if you were hungry you could knock on any door and without a moment’s hesitation they’d slam it, straight in your face.
Compo: Well, that’s that got to do with owt?
Clegg: Huh, just shows they had character. Now we’re into an age of compassion. The world’s full of folk hating folk for hating folk.
Pearl: How long have you been interested in balloons?
Clegg: Oh, it’s just a passing fancy.
Pearl: Well, I hope it passes a bit quicker than some of Howard’s.
Clegg: Basically, it’s just to keep me occupied until my skateboard comes.

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