I was shocked and - frankly - pretty devastated to hear of the death of Victoria Wood, well before her time. Cancer stole her from us at the age of only 62. Which is so utterly unfair. There are no words at a moment like this, especially as she was the one with all the good lines. Lines that made you laugh and made you cry in equal measure. I find it hard to accept that there will be no more, that her work is now complete. For her words made the everyday hilarious, the mundane massive and brought the things you had never noticed to the fore. The hostess trolley, the avocado. The Woman's Weekly, the Berni Inn. Judith Chalmers. Soup. Since Victoria Wood incorporated them into songs or sketches they have brought a snigger or knowing smile to our lips. But now they carry a bittersweet memory too.
I remember watching this stand-up show with my mum once and Mum laughed until she weed. Watching it again post-childbirth, I can see why. And not just because I am now that woman at the bus stop trying to exercise her pelvic floor. For I have had the poo-coloured wardrobe phase. I have been the new mother trying to get out of the house with toast in her hair. Victoria Wood was saying all these things before all the Mummy bloggers out there now. Back then it was so original and refreshing to hear someone tell it like it is.
Remembering my mum laughing like that makes me sad. My mum died of cancer at a similar age to Victoria Wood, and with similar speed. But given she used to drive between schools giggling to tapes of Victoria Wood she is lucky she didn't bump herself off in a car crash much earlier.
About ten years ago I managed to get two last-minute tickets to see Acorn Antiques: The Musical in the West End. As the tickets were in the stalls, it was the most money I have ever spent on going to the theatre. But it was totally worth it. Julie Walters as Mrs Overall was - as ever - astounding. And as the curtain lifted on the shop scene at the start of the second half, it's the first time I have seen a set alone get a cheer and round of spontaneous applause. Someone else played Miss Berta - Wood only appeared (as Mrs Overall) for some matinees, when Walters (according to Wood) was at Bingo.
The last thing of Victoria Wood's I saw (apart from her winning cakes on Comic Relief Bake-Off) was That Day We Sang, which I blogged about here. The quote at the top "I have a bit of life still owing" has an entirely different resonance now.
Victoria Wood was a true genius. Clever in such a down-to-earth way. She was witty and northern, shy and modest, awkward yet exuberant. And we all - probably without exception - loved her.
So farewell. And at least we will always have Barry and Freda:
|..on me lower portions|
|Beat me on the bottom with the...|
|Bend me over backwards on me...|