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A Leeds obituary

A Leeds obituary

It’s a Millennium street party, and the "local faces" have showed up: a motley crew of statues, celebrities, fictional characters, and performers. Wearing coloured outfits if still living, monochrome if dead, they’re all flattened and jumbled together in some weird time-warp. Alan Bennett peeps shyly from behind his net-curtains; Lawrence of Arabia poses on his camel; Emma Peel cocks her smoking gun; Dame Fanny Waterman sits preening beside her piano…and hey, look! there’s Jeremy Paxman (did you know he was born in Leeds?) and that long lean sad-eyed suffragette, Leonora Cohen. In amongst them all, my mum stands smiling brightly in her usual comfy blue, just in front of Joseph Priestley (1773-1804) who discovered oxygen, was a Unitarian, and fled to America. Everyone is glowing with civic pride. But who’s that in the most prominent position, right at the front and in the middle? The one wearing a silver track-suit, his eyes hidden behind sunglasses, and grinning like a loon? He’s out on a charity run with some local schoolgirls, and he’s dead famous – he has a knighthood! Don’t you see him? He’s just visible if you look very long and hard at the space in front of the table. Yes that’s right, the space that’s been cut in the shape of eternal shame then stitched with the threads of sorrow, contempt and rage. His colour is indescribable; it seeps out into the city like a stain.

Jimmy Savile, this is my Leeds Obituary for you, and may you rot in Hell. There’s only one living person* who could write a curse on you that’s adequate.

  • Bob Dylan, 'Seven Curses'
A Leeds obituary
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