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I discovered today, nearly six weeks after the fact, that one of my favourite performers, comedy singer Jake Thackray, had died on 26 December 2002.

This saddened me on several levels – firstly because I knew and liked the man as a man, as well as a performer, secondly because he had a wonderful talent, thirdly because despite that talent, and the joy he brought to many people, he died a bankrupt, and lastly – most importantly in a way - because his death didn’t make enough noise to reach beyond the shores of the UK, so it took me more than a month to discover it.

I was trying to think of something fitting to add to my node, apart from just a notice, and then I remembered this song. It was part of Jake’s stock in trade for about thirty years, and it sums up everything he’d have wanted said and done:

The Last Will and Testament of Jake Thackray

I, the under-mentioned, by this document
do declare my true intentions, My last will, my testament.
when I turn up my toes,
when I rattle my clack, when I agonise,
I want no great wet weepings
No tearing of hair, no wringing of hands
No sighs, no lack-a-days
No woe-is-me's and none of your sad adieus.
Go go go and get the priest
And then go get the booze, boys.

Death, where is they victory?
Grave, where is thy sting?
When I snuff it bury me quickly then let carousals begin.
But not a do with a few ham sandwiches
A sausage roll or two
And "a small port wine please".
Roll the carpet right back
Get cracking with your old Gay Gordons
and your knees up, shake it up, live it up, sup it up
Hell of a kind of a time.
And if the coppers come around
Well tell them the party's mine, boys.

Let best beef be eaten, fill every empty glass,
Let no breast be beaten let no tooth be gnashed.
Don't bother with a fancy tombstone or
A big-deal angel or a little copper flower pot
Grow a dog rose in my eyes or a pussy willow
But no forget-me-nots, no epitaphs no keepsakes
You can let my memory slip.
You can say a prayer or two for my soul then
But make it quick, boys.

Lady, if your bosom is heaving don't waste your bosom on me
Let it heave for a man who's breathing
A man who can feel, a man who can see.
And to my cronies you can read my books
You can drive around in my motor car
And you can fish your trout with my fly and tackle

You can play on my guitar,
And sing my songs, wear my shirts
You can even settle my debts.

You can kiss my little missus if she's willing then but - no regrets, boys.

Your rosebuds are numbered
Gather them now for rosebuds sake.
And if your hands aren't too encumbered
Gather a bud or two for Jake.

I’ve still got a few roses in the garden – I’ll pick a bunch tomorrow, and play some records.

Noded with permission

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