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Not meeting Laurel and Hardy

June 9, 2013


My Dad was not what you’d call a name dropper.  In the course of his long life he met some rather interesting people, and rather than pester them for a photo or an autograph he’d find some way to get the best long term anecdotal value out of the encounter.

But the most wonderful of my Dad’s brushes with greatness was, I think, a near miss.  There is something rather sublime (in a very exact and specific sense) about this (not) meeting that bears repetition.

My Dad was living in Rugby in the 1950s, and one evening he wandered into his local, to be met with an excited publican who exclaimed…

“You’ll never guess who was in here last night?”

“Who?” asked my Dad.

“Laurel and Hardy!” grinned the landlord.

“Laurel and Hardy?  What were they doing here?”

“They’re on tour.  They stayed overnight here on their way to Birmingham.  They just fancied a quiet pint so they came in here.  But they were so happy and flattered by how pleased folk were to see them that they stayed all night.  Then they got into character.  They stayed in character all night and started to serve drinks and get into arguments.  They were clowning around with everyone in the bar right up till closing time.  It was the most hilarious, magical thing any of us have ever seen.”

“Wow”, said my Dad.  “And that was last night?”


“And they’re not here tonight?”
“No, they’re not here tonight.”

“And they’re not coming back?”

“No, they’re not coming back.”
“I was thinking of coming in here last night, and then decided I couldn’t be bothered.  So I missed a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend a night drinking with Laurel and Hardy?”

“Ah… yes, I’d say you have.”

The pathos of this recollection is delicious.  The painful extrapolation of what would have been just about the best night out ever makes it a far better famous encounter than the vulgar obviousness of jamming with Elvis Presley or sleeping with Marilyn Monroe.  Not meeting Laurel and Hardy shows my Dad at his most innovative at describing the wonderful ways in which people connect with one another.  This is an important reason why I miss him.


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One Comment
  1. Reblogged this on conradbrunstrom and commented:

    On this, Oliver Hardy’s birthday, I thought I’d reblog this post about the closest Conrad Brunstrom ever got to meeting him.

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