The Reunion Party

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For me, Galton and Simpson were up there

With Pinter, Stoppard, and all the others.

‘The Reunion Party’ was their peak.

Nineteen sixty-five, when Tony Hancock

Struggled on through his final, fading depths.

Not seen for twenty years, his army mates,

Grown old, have changed, and not for the better.

Oh, disappointment, exasperation!

(‘Oh God, man. You’re not a squirrel; have a sandwich.’)

Sixty years later, the piece still grabs you:

An unvarnished metaphor for decline

And lost illusions. Hancock’s own decline

Had begun. Within three years he was gone,

A casualty of booze and showbiz fame.

The bitter-sweet humour is a symbol

Of a dying England, still stuck in a war

Which could never be won or put to bed.

But, most of all, the performance lays bare

Our greatest misfortune: the march of time.


◄ Circumstances

Villanelle for a village cricketer ►


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Stephen Gospage

Sun 19th Mar 2023 09:03

Thanks very much, Greg and Uilleam.

Greg - I agree that there is more warmth in Steptoe and that it was truly great comedy. The Hancock character was built on self-delusion and fantasy and the shows are often very bleak. It is the comedy of despair.
This was one of a pair of one-off recordings, with Hancock and Sid James brought back together one last time. I understand that the performance was hard going, as Hancock was drinking and often fluffed his lines. However, with the magic of editing, it sounds very good.
There is a real sense of Hancock representing a generation wallowing in wildly exaggerated war memories and of lost hopes and dreams. (Still strikes a chord, as you say). Reality, when it hits home, can be a terrible thing.

Uilleam - Yes, I think Galton and Simpson's genius was that they were able to make tragic nostalgia so funny.

And my thanks to Nigel, Philip, Hugh, Manish and Rudyard for liking this.

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Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh

Sat 18th Mar 2023 08:57

Thank you Stephen.
It seems some of us still hanker after the "good old-bad old days", and are determined to repeat them.😕
Humour and piss-taking appears to be the only remedy, at least for me.

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Greg Freeman

Sat 18th Mar 2023 07:54

Thanks for the link, Steve, I must make time to watch this. 'The bitter-sweet humour is a symbol / Of a dying England, still stuck in a war / Which could never be won or put to bed.' Still true today.
You mention Pinter. For me, G&S's greatest achievement was Steptoe. And that harks straight back to Beckett, with all the rubbish, the cluttered set, the sense of being trapped. And more warmth and affection in Steptoe, somehow.

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