Thought for today:
"Two days ago, a dear friend of mine and simply the loveliest of men, the television star of 'Allo Allo', Gorden Kaye, died at the age of 75 years. Gorden was a consummate comedian, who through the role of French resistance fighter, Rene Artois, could make the nation laugh without any recourse to smut or bad language.
'Allo Allo' enjoyed huge success in the decade between 1982 and 1992. This was a period in my life when I was also enjoying regional success; as much as a social crusader as an author of children's books. Indeed, one Leeds radio and television presenter once described me on his programme as being 'probably the most contemporary children's author to come out of Yorkshire that nobody has heard of outside Yorkshire.'
Fortunately, the few people who had heard of me and my style of writing for children tended to be of the more famous variety who enjoyed a celebrity lifestyle.To name drop just a few, by way of illustration, there was Norman Wisdom, Rosemary Leach, Virginia McKenna, Christopher Timothy, Timothy West, Prunella Scales, Vera Lynne, plus three princesses, two archbishops and three prime ministers who read or supported my writings. Between 1989 and 2002, over 860 famous names read from my books in Yorkshire school assemblies, and after Princess Dianna had contacted me to request that I send her two of my books that were selling like hot cakes directly to Yorkshire schools to read to her 9 and 7-year-old sons, Princes William and Harry at their bedtime, my name was mentioned more often in the media. Nelson Mandela's telephone call to me in 2000 to describe an African Indian Trilogy I'd written and which he'd read as being 'Wonderful' essentially cemented my credentials as an author along with the £200,000 book sale profits I gave to charitable causes in perpetuity.
Back to Gorden, whose name was spelled wrongly by the Actor's Union, and which he left unchanged, the breadth and scope of his acting were wider than most folks imagine. Can you remember him as Elsie Tanner's nephew, Bernard Butler in 1970, or any of his appearances in 'Last of the Summer Wine','It aint half hot Mum', 'Emmerdale', or 'Are you being Served?'
Gorden was born in Huddersfield and he was one of the few famous people who read from my books that took many communications, emotional blackmail, and all my Irish Blarney to convince over one full year of phone and letter contacts.The reason was basically twofold; his acute shyness whenever on a public stage and the fact that he was gay by both nature and sexual orientation.
It was during the early 80s when Aids was first mentioned in the British press and an epidemic was forecast. I first invited Gorden to read for me in a Huddersfield school assembly of children in 1989, but he initially declined, citing 'shyness' as his prime excuse. After the first time he read to an assembly of children in Milnsbridge, Huddersfield, in mid 1990, he went on to read for me four or five times in Yorkshire schools 'on the proviso that no press or radio and tv media be informed in advance and only the Head of the school being read at would know who their famous reader was. This remained the one condition he insisted upon. He did not mind the press knowing that he'd been after he'd gone, but not before or during!
Whenever Gorden read for me, we would meet up at an out of the way cafe for coffee beforehand where we could talk without him being pestered or recognised and buttonholed, or we would go to a private home contact for lunch. It was during these conversations held with him on those occasions that he told me why he first feared reading to children in public. The bottom line was the prejudice he had himself faced growing up and the then, generally held view by many 'poof bashers' as he called them, who believed all children to be unsafe in the presence of a homosexual man. He essentially had been reared at a time when being 'gay' was automatically considered to be child molesters and paedophiles.
Gorden taught me more about gay discrimination than any person I ever knew.He was one of the nicest men I ever knew and I would have trusted him in the sole presence of any child I ever knew and loved. God bless you mate for all the love you brought through the laughter you created. Rest in peace. I am so glad I knew you briefly and I haven't the slightest doubt that as soon as St Peter sees you coming, you'll be met by a chorus of 'Allo Allo, Gorden. Come on in!'. Love Bill x" William Forde :January 25th, 2017.