The thing about getting old is increasingly you find people you know or know of (sometimes well) dying around you. Many have made an impact over the years and since I regularly blog these days I cannot resist the opportunity to share my own reminiscences, give vent to some of my own sorrow and pay my own respects to some of these people by blogging. Not everyone is covered, nor can be, otherwise this would start to become a full time occupation, but I try to say something about those who have played a significant part in and touched my own life, often going back to childhood.
When I first heard about the death of Cilla Black (27 May 1943 – 1 August 2015), I was moved and felt sorrow and sadness at the passing of this great lady with iconic status, mindful that many others would feel the same and be paying their tributes. I felt on balance I wouldn’t say anything on my blog because I didn’t feel I had anything out of the ordinary to say. While I liked her music (her hey day was the sixties, as was mine) and her TV shows, I wasn’t a big fan compared with some as they weren’t quite “my cup of tea”. Some might say there may be a touch of the misogynist in me, given those I have blogged about so far have been men. However, as I picked up on part of an interview on today’s Today program, and gained more insight into her character, I changed my mind.
Besides a promising early pop career that began around the time of the Beatles, who she happened to know and relate to well and was also from Liverpool (she was talented (she often topped the charts) and I remembered her well as a pop star singer and liked her singing (I will always remember “anyone who had a heart” and “you’re my world“)), she hosted television shows that attracted large audiences. The two stick out ones were “Surprise, Surprise”, which did things like bringing together long lost relatives, and “Blind Date”, which brought together couples who had never met and sent them on a blind date, often in some exotic location. Today’s interview was with a couple who had met on Blind Date, got and stayed married, bringing up a family. They related how Cilla had kept in contact with them over the years, not out of compulsion or for show but out of genuine concern. It showed the humanity side of her. I listened a little later to a recording, when she was on Desert Island Disks. Besides being an enormously talented woman, she had insight, humility, humanity, humour, warmth, wit and character, and was obviously devoted to her late husband, children and friends.
I suspect with Cilla, as with most people, there was a gap between what we see in public and what we might observe in private, but my inkling is it was narrow in her case. I also think she was one helluva lady who in her time did make remarkable contributions through her artistic contributions as well as her humanitarian ones. The label “national treasure” is often an overused one, but it is an apt one in her case. Thank you Cilla for what you have brought to this world and for enriching the lives of others; now rest in peace.