Thursday, 31 March 2016


Insomnia means hearing world news before many other local Aucklanders. Sometimes it’s simply another terrorist attack in far off Istanbul, sometimes a transport shut down that threatens to paralyse the City of London and last night it was sadly, the death of Ronnie Corbett, the little man with the gigantic talent. I am proud to be able to say that decades ago I knew Ronnie Corbett, in fact we worked together at Danny La Rue’s club in Hanover Square, central London. I was a humble club hostess and he took a starring role in the twice nightly cabaret alongside Danny, our employer. This was in the mid nineteen sixties, a few years before his TV career took off and The Two Ronnies became household names. It was obvious, however, that he was destined for stardom. When you work as a night club hostess and sit through two floor shows nightly for six months at a time it’s very easy to become bored and jaded as far as cabaret is concerned. Ronnie never failed to interest, entertain and amuse. He made us laugh, night after night, week after week. I will never forget his Sheriff of Nottingham in Danny’s interpretation of The Legend of Robin Hood. Female impersonator Danny played Robin Hood as a Pantomime Principal Boy which situation in itself challenged imagination. Tony Palmer was a delightfully coarse Maid Marion. But the undoubted star of the sketch was Ronnie Corbett striding the dance floor dressed as the Sheriff and singing a Verdi aria, the lyrics of which had been cleverly modified by the brilliant Barry Cryer, resident writer. And apart from his comic genius Ronnie was a very pleasant and polite man, always stopping to chat for a moment or two when he entered the club, and if he saw one of us sitting alone, always sending over a drink. We all knew he would go on to achieve enormous success as an entertainer and from what I hear from others, despite his world wide triumphs, he always remained that pleasant and polite human being, the little man who truly cared about others.