Did you know that Jerry Lewis is still ALIVE and about to tour Australia? Well I'm assuming he's alive, the ad didn't say. If there's one thing more confronting than realising that some old bastards never die it's watching the seminal figures of your youth drop off the twig one by one. It makes you feel sooo old (and mortal). Of course the biggie of this past fortnight was Paul Newman universally regarded as a decent bloke and with the bluest eyes in the business (I guess Robson Green may inherit that title now). On the local front there was the demise of Rob Guest (I must admit I thought 'Rob who?' when I heard but apparently he had a bit of a following). And I am still trying to get through my Saturday afternoons without the distinctive voice of John Cargher introducing and gossiping about those performers on scratchy 78s!
Perhaps attaining a certain age makes you take more notice of death. Isn't there a story about some eccentric aged Englishman/woman who used to read the Death Notices in the paper each morning to check they weren't in them? It seems clear that the subjects of "Who Do You Think You Are?", the celebrity genealogy program on SBS on Sunday nights, find the tug of discovering their roots irresistible. There's a reassurance in seeing yourself as part of an evolving and continuous chain of family. And discerning traits shared with great aunt Mabel (however spurious) adds some meaning, makes a sort of pattern out of our essential alone-ness and finite-ness.
So Vale Paul, Rob, Aunty Mabel and the countless departed who have touched our lives. I think it is not, as the absurd title of a spiritualist book I saw in Dymocks this week suggests, that 'We Are Their Heaven' more that the memories and associations they've left with us act to enrich our own existence.