Sunday, October 4, 2009


Here are some of the anecdotes I have received (some are from years ago). If you would like to share your memories, please add your comments in the section below.

Dear Ebony,
I have always loved Frank's personality and his writings. I also enjoy rereading his anthology of humour, The Oxford Book of Humorous Prose. However, each time the question pops up in my mind: why is Kurt Vonnegut not in that book? He seems to me a most likely candidate for inclusion for all the reasons mentioned on p. xxxiii except (3) regarded as hilarious many years ago but now monumentally unfunny and perhaps (6) if Frank did not like his prose.
Could it be that either this author slipped by him or that he failed to leave a mark on our omnivore?
Yours sincerely,
Paul Mercken
Bunnik, The Netherlands

Good point Paul. Let's ask the comedy fans...who else should have been included in the book, but wasn't? Also, if the book was published today, instead of 1990, who should have made the cut? Ben Elton? Doug Grant and Rob Naylor? Jennifer Saunders? And that's just the UK. What about Bill Bryson or Kathy Lette? Have your say in the comments section. - Ebony
Dear Ebony
I just dropped by your Tribute Page when I was trying to get information about My Word! for an essay I am writing (having failed to find the relevant facts on the BBC site). Not only did I find what I wanted on your site, but I was also so impressed with it that I just wanted to let you know I think it is a worthy tribute to a very funny and obviously very sweet man.
Congratulations on a fine piece of work.
I love the website. Did you know there were several series of Frank Muir Goes Into.... between 1973 and 1979. Usually they were in four or six parts, and the late Alfred Marks was also in all of the shows. Later series were produced by John Dyas (1973/4) and Richard Edis thereafter. The programmes were recorded (usually at lunchtimes!) in the Paris Studio Lower Regent Street London SW1 very near to Piccadilly Circus, before a studio audience, the sound clips from old shows and records played in at the appropriate spot. Incidentally, Take It From Here was also recorded at the Paris, as we called it (it had originally been an underground cinema and was ideal dfor use during wartime), as was later (1977 onwards) recordings of My Word. Hope this might be of interest
Regards, Alan
My name is Adam and I am 12 years old and I have started to read my Mum's book, A Kentish Lad. I think it is great and very interesting. Some of the words are difficult to understand but my Mum explains them to me. I can't wait to read more.
Dear Ebony

Thank you for such a lovely tribute to Frank Muir. I grew up in England knowing his work well and loving him to bits for his good natured, well bred bumbling style. I used to adore watching him on Call My Bluff and could never see the twists coming in his challenge to fit a story to a line - my favourite was "More in Surrey than in Ongar".

I live in France and my only link with the UK, apart from lots of internet friends, is the BBC and I never miss one of Frank's broadcasts, even if it is a repeat that I have heard many times before.

You must have loved him very much and I am so pleased that you could share that special relationship you had with me.

Blessings to you - Ailsa

Just visited your site!
It was great and a truly fitting tribute to a great man. Some great stuff I hadn't seen before!
Ben Hyde
Frank's great nephew (Grandson of Frank's brother Chaz)

Thanks for your tribute site - I used it to settle a question (from a friend) about who was Frank's first opposing captain in Call My Bluff - Patrick Campbell !
I'm 34 now, but remember fondly of looking forward to the programme as a child and being very intrigued by this true English gentleman with a great moustache and that pink bow tie !
They threw away the mould .....
Best Regards
Unlike some other fortunate people here, I did not meet Mr Muir in person. He really did have a gift, one that he used very generously. I think that the first joke I ever told anyone was stolen from My Word - about a man heating a kayak, no less. I became quite popular at my primary school, being asked to tell and retell the complex tale.
I have just been loaned a copy of 'A Kentish Lad', and I am looking forward to reading it. I hope it doesn't include a the heated kayak story - I'd feel guilty on behalf of my younger self for no doubt mangling the best bits of the yarn. I have listened to My Word for years and I was very sorry to hear of Mr Muir's death. However, he continues to entertain and delight through his books and the radio shows - he might have said that it's a case of 'The Ghost of Mr Muir".

Tim Simpson
Adelaide, Australia

I have always had a great affection for good old fashioned English humour and Frank is up there with just a handfull of the best. Frank's way with words and his unique way of turning a simple situation into the most amusing and witty observations you could imagine, will be very sadly missed but not forgotten.

Mark Weston
Devon, UK

marvelous site, congrats. It's nice to know there are other Frank Muir afficionadoes out there. Like Jo Lemass (see below) I to listen to "My Word" on radio national at 5:30 on Thursdays. I do my listening in the cab I drive and its amazing the number of people who get in and recognise the voice and just sit quietly, enjoying someone they haven't heard in years.

Christopher Basten, taxi driver,
Sydney, Australia.

(PS I am looking forward to after the olympics)

Hi Ebony,
I met Frank a couple of times when he was running to be Rector of St. Andrews University in Scotland. I was a student there and campaigned for him, even though the competition, in the form of Graeme Garden (from The Goodies), was pretty worthwhile too. (The result) was very close. Closer than any other race. Frank followed such notables as John Cleese and Alan Coren in the job, and probably did a better job than any of them. In particular, I remember he was a frequent visitor, sometimes with actor friends in tow to put on a performance.

I met him when he went for tea at a girls' hall of residence. He was very polite and gracious, as you would expect and charmed all the young ladies present.

I also have a signed copy of an anthology he edited, "The Oxford Book of Humorous Prose." My mother got him to sign it in Edinburgh and sent it to me here in North Carolina. It says: "To Gavin, Frank Muir. P.S. Keep the English sense of humour going, please!" I have forgiven him the "English" part.

Best Regards,

Gavin Sinclair,
North Carolina, USA

Dear Ebony,

Every morning I walk with my black labrador, but on Thursdays I have the great pleasure of walking and listening to My Word. I walk in local cemetery which is very up hill and down dale (and good for the thighs) and think I must look such a sight laughing so much that tears rolling down my face - what a wonderful way to start the day!

Cheers, Jo Lemass
Queensland, Australia

Dear Ebony,

I like your site - you've put it together very well, and it does the great man credit!

I've been a Muir fan for years, and heard most of his My Word! and My Music broadcasts the first time round. I met him once, if you can call popping into an Oxford St bookshop and finding Muir anddenis & frank Norden, signing books, a meeting! They weren't particularly busy, and I was stony broke, so the opportunity of buying a signed copy of You Can't Have Your Kayak and Heat It passed me by! I pointed out that I already had both their My Word!books, so Frank suggested that I slip my copies across the table and they would sign them anyway!

John Welford
Leicestershire, England

Dear Ebony,

I thought I would drop you a line and tell you how wonderful I think your tribute to Frank is.

I worked for Sally, Frank and Polly's daughter for a few years and had the greatest fortune of meeting Frank and Polly. He was a great man in all sorts of ways and we miss him dearly. Unbelievably, it is almost a year since he died, hence the net search for information on him because he's in my thoughts at this time of year. I'm sure he would have been thrilled at this tribute, in his normal modest manner.

What amazed me at the time of his death was that everyone, and I mean everyone, had at least one funny story to tell concerning Frank. I think this more than anything is the greatest tribute to a man who strived to make people laugh.

For me, it was his abiding interest in gadgets of all shapes and sizes, and his eagerness to demonstrate them that made me laugh. I was given the most professional demonstration of a gadget that could peel and core apples all at the same time. He was the gadgets biggest salesman, and I'm sure had the company that made them been aware of his undying enthusiasm for their contraption, they would have been extremely flattered, if a little bewildered ... Frank's memory lives on, especially on the best gadget of all - the internet.

Best wishes,
Nicole Lloyd-foxe
Bath, England

What the heck, I created this website, I can put in my own anecdote. The following is from a letter Frank sent to me, dated 19 July 1996. Apart from his usual salutations and snippets of news, it included this:

"... Do you mind odd children's jokes about rabbits? Polly and I had our 47th wedding anniversary yesterday and our driver told us of a rabbit who walked into the butchers shop and said, "Can I have a lettuce?"
The butcher said, "Not here mate. Go across the road to the greengrocers, he'll give you one." Which the rabbit did.
But next morning he was back at the butchers, "can I have a lettuce?"
"No," said the butcher, "I told you, go across the road and ask the greengrocer." This went on all week. On Friday the butcher, fed up with the rabbit, said. "If you come in here again asking for a lettuce I'll nail your ears to my chopping block!"
The next morning the rabbit came in as usual. "Got any nails?" he asked.
"Course I haven't!" said the butcher, "This is a butchers shop!"
"Can I have a lettuce?" asked the rabbit."

Ebony McKenna
Melbourne, Australia

Dear Ebony,

I thought of another 'Frank memory' after my last e-mail, and it illustrates Frank's modesty quite well.

When A Kentish Lad was still in draft form, I was very privileged to have a chance to read it. I read it in one go, unable to put it down, and immediately wrote him a letter glowing with praise. I told him how often I had laughed out loud, and at what bits, and said that for a dour person like myself the only other writer that had that effect on me was Bill Bryson, (a humorist of great skill for sure, but nowhere near as clever as Frank). The next time we met he thanked me for my 'kind' letter, saying it would probably be the first and last of it's kind. He also thanked me for 'the great compliment of comparing me to Bill Bryson. He's someone I have striven to write like all my life'.

How unbelievable is that? And how do you think Mr Bryson would feel if he knew? I think he would be flattered beyond belief.

I'm just so glad he's being honoured on your web page, (which is, by the way, a very good web site - I lived in Melbourne myself for a couple of years and it's always nice to see pictures of my old home town!).

Best wishes,
Nicole Lloyd-foxe
Bath, England

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