Monday, May 10, 2004

Unconfined utility room joy ... Shane Richie has just won best actor at this year's Soap Awards. "Eastenders" always seems to be the most popular soap down in the cockerny smoke. Perhaps there is much to be gained from watching the constant stream of miserable ashen faced women, useless gangsters, crap dialogue and unremitting grimness which constitutes the average episode; one viewing every 10 months or so is enough for me, and keeps me up with the storylines. I can only imagine that in such a murky setting, Shane Richie's Alfie Moon must stand out like a little ray of, ahem, moonshine.

His receiving the award has, however, reminded me to obtain a copy of his autobiography, preferably by foul means, or at least by borrowing it from the library. Paying for it would, of course, be beyond the pale. I was moved when seeing that a copy had been kindly 'donated' by a customer while I was in a Canterbury charity shop. It had been left sneakily on the counter, the customer obviously too ashamed to admit to owning it.

The highlights of "From Rags To Richie!!!!" were serialized in a national newspaper before Christmas and seemed so ... impressive. Well, from what I remember of them - they may have taken on a rose tinted sheen since, so bear with me as I precis a couple of the stories.

Apparently, Shane was born Neil Nigel Neville Richie in London's own cockney east end slums in 1932. Times were tough, but were the making of the young would-be Shane. He was booted out of home at the age of eleven after announcing he was going to be a song-and-dance man. "No son of mine is going to be a bleedin' fairy" raged his rag-and-bone-man father, throwing him out of a fourth storey window.

Anyway, moving swiftly on to the early 1980's, when Shane was by now a Butlin's Redcoat. He took great pride in recalling having been 'taken' by 26 young women one night in a chalet (a great feat of engineering that they all fitted in there, as it were). Perhaps he took advantage of his slight resemblance, in a poor light, to the 'Welsh Elvis Presley' Shaking Stevens, then causing a sensation everywhere with his "Green Door".

Really, if I'd remembered more, I could've gone on and on about what is sure to be a real page turner. But is what I've remembered anywhere near the real story? Shane's life seems more far-fetched than an "Eastenders" plot ... but possibly my mind has embellished facts, as it tends to do more frequently as the years go by.

Time to put the kettle on.

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