Monday, 21 January 2013


Here I go again.  Someone has died and I'm writing about it.

I just heard that Michael Winner died (actually I heard earlier today and have only just got round to writing about it) and I'm sad.  I was upset when he recently stopped writing his Winner's Dinners column on the back page of the Sunday Times.  The article was like him - infuriating, self-centred, opinionated, sometimes rude, yet completely unmissable and delightful at the same time.  I bought the S Times almost exclusively to read his column.  He visited, usually the best, restaurants and hotels and often slated them.  He was the only critic I know willing to cut through the hype.  I suppose being able to afford lunches costing several hundred pounds allowed to him to do so.  But who else would pay a fortune for a meal and then say it was rubbish?  I gather that many restaurants refused to allow him in.  More fool them.  Frankly, if a restaurant knows he's coming, pulls out all the stops and still gets criticised, they deserve all they get.  He also published a column of letters from readers who were usually offensive to him too, but they all clearly loved him.

When he appeared on television, he had no hesitation in saying what many would think, but most fear to say.  He was unreconstructed and sometimes wrong, but it was always fun to listen to him.  He was also a generous person and apparently very amusing company, which was no doubt why people continued to like him, even after he was rude to them (which he often was). 

He will probably be remembered, as a film director, for the Death Wish series of films, which was highly successful at the box office, but he made a lot of films, few of them smash hits, despite an extraordinary cast of actors.  But I suspect there will be little but praise for him and regrets at his passing on the ether tonight and in obituaries tomorrow.  You can read of his recent medical problems there and his eventual decision to marry a couple of years ago, neither of which events stopped his irrepressible gadding about and his robust and humorous writing.

But more importantly, read his book of Hymie jokes which are fabulous!  Here are a couple of my favourites:

Hymie finds he is sharing the cabin on the night sleeper with a very beautiful young woman. He gallantly offers her the top bunk and steps into the corridor so that she can prepare for bed.  When he returns, he wishes her goodnight and gets into his own bunk.  Some time later she says: ‘I’m feeling a bit cold.’
‘Would you like me to get you a blanket?’ he asks.
‘Well,’ she replies,  ‘I was rather wondering if you’d like to pretend that I was your wife?’
‘Oh, I see,’ says Hymie, ‘get your own blanket then!’

Hymie is involved in a motorway accident. When he wakes in the hospital the doctor says: ‘You’ll be fine, Mr CohenHowever, I'm afraid your manhood was chopped off in the wreck; we can build you a new one for £1,000 an inch and you’ve got £9,000 insurance compensation, but you’d better discuss with your wife what size she’d prefer.’ Hymie agrees to consult his wife.
The doctor comes back the next day and asks: ‘What’s the decision?’
Hymie replies: ‘We’re having a new kitchen.'

RIP Michael.  Long live, Hymie!

1 comment:

  1. The last time I saw Michael Winner on TV he didn't, as they say, look well. He was thin in the face and rather hesitant ...

    I don't think he would have been the sort of chap I would have got on with though he certainly enlivened any programme I saw him on. Didn't he appear on BBC's Question Time once or twice ?

    He was a character though and sadly there seem to be fewer of them knocking around nowadays.

    I like the jokes, especially the second one.