Stan at 130 and beyond
As it is the 130th Anniversary of Stan's birth tomorrow, why not visit the Beau Chumps website 'mini-biography' of Stan which can be found here.
As you might know, I've tried to get North Tyneside Council to look at doing something to celebrate what would've been Stan's birthday at his Statue in North Shields with my help (if needed) and was met with... absolutely nothing. No acknowledgement, no reply, zilch.
(Ironically, I did get a satisfaction survey to assess their response. I complained about the lack of response and got, you guessed it, no response!)
Obviously, nothing could have happened anyway with this damnable Granolavirus, but I do think we should get together and make something happen in future. Author and North Shields lad, Danny Lawrence, has similar thoughts and had a similar response from the council, so we propose that we individually all write, email etc etc and say more or less the same thing.
A Stan Laurel Day, perhaps? It's not as if they'll have to do it all. The Chumps will help, and if we can rely on a few from all four corners turning up on the day then surely, they'll have to do something? Anyway, more on this when things settle down. I'll be happy to coordinate things, so watch this space.
We recommend you read a recent blog from the Beau Chumps Tent:
We like the bit where Danny Lawrence says "....how’s this for a fun idea which would raise the profile of North Tyneside and bring in more visitors to North Shields? What I am proposing is that North Tyneside hold an annual Stan Laurel Day on the Saturday nearest to his birthday (16 June 1890) or his first visit to the town with Oliver Hardy (28 July 1932).
A statue which isn’t in imminent danger of being pulled down
Statues have been the subject of much controversy and debate across the world recently – they’ve been defaced, replaced and even forcibly removed.
But surely no-one can argue against the bronze figure of Stan Laurel which stands in Bishop Auckland.
And yet, it nearly didn’t happen.
Many towns lay claim to being the home of Arthur Stanley Jefferson, who went on to become one half of Laurel and Hardy – perhaps the best-known double act the world has ever seen.
Bishop Auckland’ s claim is based on the fact the Stan lived and went to school in the town as a boy. His father, Arthur Jefferson, ran the Eden Theatre in the town – and the statue of Stan in his trademark head-scratching pose now stands in the spot where the theatre once stood.
But town planners initially got themselves into a fine mess over whether to have a statue at all. Fans of the comedian, traders and council officers negotiated over the statue for nearly three years, before a planning application was finally submitted.
The statue was designed by Tyneside artist Bob Olley and features Laurel in his most famous pose – Mr Olley designed a similar statue in North Shields.
But a decision to get Stan’s head moulded at a foundry in China almost proved fatal for the figure when it was nearly caught up in two natural disasters.
Halfway through the casting at a steel foundry near the city of Chengdu, a devastating earthquake struck the country, killing nearly 70,000 people – the epicentre being just 40 kilometres from the foundry.
It took ten days for Mr Olley to confirm that the foundry workers were unaffected and that the statue could be completed. The finished article was then taken from the works to Shanghai where it set sail for Felixstowe – only just escaping a monstrous typhoon over the Pacific the following day.
Although delayed by several months, Stan’s statue finally arrived on British soil in July 2008.
And one month later, on Sunday, August 30, Stan was unveiled on Theatre Corner. Amid a sea of bowler hats and the odd fez, a brass band played to the crowd that gathered to get the first look at the town’s new landmark, which was funded by an Arts Council grant and Wear Valley District Council.
Laurel and Hardy fans from far and wide were there and among them was Stan Laurel’s niece, 83-year-old Nancy Wardell, who was asked to attend the ceremony. She said: “I think Stan would have been very proud of his statue and I’m pleased to know it will be here for many years to come.”
The Northern Echo (14.06.20.)
George Cook RIP
So sorry to hear that George Cook has left us. [Click here].
He was literally a larger than life figure and a lovely man. The first time I met him was when we happened to share a table at breakfast. I had just poured my coffee and proceeded to add milk and sugar - the look of horror on his face was something to see!
Of course that was rare: most of the time he had a big friendly smile. He loved coming to Conventions and when friends would ask me about the attendance I would point out that George came all the way from the USA. He made the most of that too, so we played along: one of the highlights of every Convention was when he would walk into the room and everybody would stand up and sing the American national anthem. He would stop and put his hand over his heart until we had finished!
This is usually said when we lose a friend but in George’s case it’s true: Conventions won’t be the same without him.
George was a regular UK convention attendee, including Sunderland way back in 1988. Here he is proudly displaying his 'Nothing But Trouble' tent of San Francisco banner in the Seaburn Hotel on Friday 29th April.
George was a bit of a trail blazer, venturing to the UK Conventions at a far earlier stage than others from the US.
One of the last calls I received from George was him doing his nut that they (the Government) wouldn’t let him fly due to covid-19. Actually when I think about it, he quite often had something to do his nut about. The fact you couldn’t get haggis in the US really did annoy him. I remember the 2011 UK Convention in Paisley when he turned up resplendent in his kilt attire which I know he also wore at the US Masonic Burns Suppers when they would eat kid-on haggis. Tom and I took him to the Spinnaker - our local - and for once the service wasn’t brilliant. George turned on the charm with the young waitress, calling her ma’am - “They like that,” he said, and you know what, he was right. She was suddenly galvanized into action and did get a tip.
I will miss my blethers over the phone.
One of my last conversations with George reminds me of his unique sense of humour. He said, “Remember that as one door closes another on shuts!” Worthy of Stan Laurel any day!
Now I have seen it all!
Watching the film Ghost World. Steve Buscemi just mentioned that he likes Laurel and Hardy... His date says she doesn't, and why does the fat one always have to be so mean to the thin one!
Antony Mitchell-Waite on Facebook
Keeping a smile on Marcia's face
Spotted on Facebook: Marcia Opal
Did You Know?
Only two women have played both Mrs Laurel and Mrs Hardy in their films. The two women are Isabelle Keith (who played Mrs Laurel in Perfect Day and Mrs Hardy in Be Big!) and Linda Loredo (who played Mrs Laurel in Come Clean and the Spanish version of Blotto and Mrs Hardy in the Spanish versions of Chickens Come Home and Hog Wild). Thanks to Andrew C for that spot.
Mike Jones in a Beau Chumps Tent blog