Dave Wyatt: Roger's tribute
Dave ‘Lord’ Heath sent this photo of Dave Glass, Dave Wyatt and Roger at Lord Heath’s home
There was a young man called Dave Wyatt,
Whose voice was awfully quiet.
And then one day, it faded away.
(Shouting) But it came back so he started a riot.
My silly, pathetic limerick (adapted from Spike Milligan’s original version) was something I composed and often recited to Dave Wyatt when I phoned him. Our telephone conversations were quite frequent and always full of sarcasm and insults. I think we both thrived on this. Sometimes I threw in an obscure question relating to Laurel and Hardy. I didn’t know the answer myself but thought if anyone would know, then it would be Dave. And yes, he always did. His knowledge of film matters, particularly classic comedy, was absurdly expansive.
My friendship with Dave commenced thirty years ago almost immediately when I met him at a Helpmates Convention. I was lost in admiration when he would quietly talk about a piece of rare film he was about to show. Subsequently at Helpmates, Live Ghost and Saps at Sea tent meetings, Dave would often, rather like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, show unseen film footage. He gleaned pleasure from sharing this with fellow Sons of the Desert. I think he recognised my enthusiasm and somehow, we became ‘two minds with a single thought,’ and that was to do things together. I learned so much from his cool, calm, and friendly approach to life. Initially I regarded myself as Dave’s assistant, the makeweight, when we put on a film show or did a presentation.
Years later we jointly authored our book ‘It Sure Is,’ about L&H at the London Palladium, and then we shanghaied 100 Sons and Friends for ‘Hard-Boiled Eggs and Nuts’, a celebration of 100 years of Laurel and Hardy. Dave loved being involved in these projects and although he could frustrate me with his very relaxed approach, he was meticulous in accuracy.
When he had that awful housefire in which he nearly perished, I knew that Sons would want to rally round to support him in his recovery. He lost a ton of irreplaceable film material in that fire and the £1,600 raised through ‘The Dave Wyatt Fire Fund’ helped soften the pain.
The fire had a lasting impact on Dave. He suffered many burns and inhaled a lot of smoke so that his breathing was severely affected. But he remained positive as he recovered, and I never heard him complain or grumble.
He accepted my offer of giving him nothing if he authored a regular article for ‘the Perry Winkle’ magazine. His ‘Duck Soup’ page has always been full of wit, titbits, and observation and, of course, the occasional slight or slur of fellow Sons.
He was very keen to join with me in the planned ‘Seaside Extravaganza’ weekend in Southend in September 2023. I was no longer the office junior, but a partner in this project. I phoned him about a week ago to discuss ideas for his rare films segment. We also had a bit of non-sensical banter and agreed that I should go over to his home in a couple of weeks to top and tail these ideas. That was the last time I spoke to Dave.
The news that Dave has died is dreadful. I will miss those phone calls. I will miss the leg-pulling. I will miss Dave. He was (I hate having to use the past tense) a REAL friend.