In June 2014 I set off one sunny Sunday morning to Lytham St Anne’s to find Les Dawson’ gravestone.
It’s in Lytham Cemetery which is sprawling, well-manicured and peaceful. I like it even on a damp November Sunday. It was sunny, birds were singing heartily and there was the regular whack of golf balls from players on the neighbouring course.
Though the place is home to thousands of bones I found the grave quickly. I’d read Les’s two autobiographies and understood the way he’d kept a straight backbone while his wife was drawn into the teeth of cancer (gone by age 48.) As I knew she’d died in April 1986 I wasn’t long meandering up and down the lines of graves of 1986 deaths. Here are the photos. Les Dawson was a regular piece of furniture on television as I grew up. Ironically he died in hospital in Manchester while having a check-up for medical insurance. From his bed he asked his wife to get him a coffee and paper and when she returned he had died of a heart attack. Only 62, not even reached retirement.
When I stood at Les’s grave I wondered if he knew I was there. Seconds later a small dog came bounding toward me....I thought it belong to some people nearby but it was a large hare, not a dog. Shocked at seeing me it stopped on the grass directly above the grave, looked at me for seconds, then darted on muscular hind legs.
Les was a piece of television furniture when I was growing up. His deadpan delivery started something many comics have tried to emulate. I can remember when we lived over a shop, sitting in the living room on the floor in front of the fire and bendy couch, seeing my mum laugh out loud (a little rare for her.) He’s written a few novels but his two autobiographies are the best, A Clown Too Many and No Tears For The Clown.
Years ago I wrote to his widow Tracy to ask where Les was buried and was surprised when she rang me for a chat. She was lovely, chatty, warm and full of life. She even said “call in” to The Bumbles, the large house she shared with Les and their daughter Charlotte.
The entrance to the cemetery…