In my very dark and distant youth when I was a rookie entertainment columnist in Jersey, I had the good fortune to interview Cilla Black.
Today I woke to the sad news that she has died at the age of 72, which is too young in the general scheme of things, and in writing about her here, my deepest condolences go out to her family and friends as I bid farewell to Cilla Black
I remember meeting Cilla backstage after a show at Jersey’s, Gloucester Hall. The Liver Bird was as garrulous as I expected with no airs and graces whatsoever, and she was so very kind and generous of spirit to the nervous 21 year old who probably asked really stupid questions! I cringe at my writing now I’m reading the tear sheet from the magazine after all those years.
Among other things she told me that she only ever had one ordinary job as a clerk-typist which was merely to fill in the gap between performances. She told me how once her dress got hooked on a nail walking down a stage set and how as she kept on walking towards the microphone the audience could see the whole of her body through her dress, and another time how she forgot her shoes. “The hotel was twenty miles away, so I thought – what’s good enough for Sandie Shaw is good enough for me,” and she went on stage barefoot.
In that interview Cilla exuded energy and enthusiasm.
Getting old is hard and sad?
In one of the online tributes this morning I read though that she had said she didn’t want to live beyond the age of 75 and another alluded to her saying that growing old was hard and sad.
I do get what she meant.
Many of us might agree that the thought of being dependent on our children in old age is something we’d probably prefer not to contemplate, and getting old is certainly ‘not for cissies’ because it is hard.
Life becomes more of a challenge, keeping up with the young folk becomes more difficult whether intellectually or physically, body parts stop behaving in the way we expect them to, and getting old is sad because we start losing things – and I don’t just mean the car keys!
We might lose old friends, we might geographically lose our children, we will quite probably lose being needed as parents, we may lose sight of our dreams and we may lose our jobs. There’s a lot of loss involved with aging.
Which is why I’m always urging you to make the most of your Lifestyle Fifty years and beyond, to stay as fit and healthy and happy as you can. To care about the way you look and to find creative ways to spend your lives as you get older.
It’s not always possible, I know. But if you keep the positive vibes going on at the back of your mind, you’ll find that you are targeting ways and means to be the best version of yourself that you can muster with what you have available.
Be the star of your own life
Back then Cilla told me her own recipe for success was:
Loving the job
Being single minded
I think Cilla’s ingredients for success could also be applied to aging well, don’t you? Loving being alive, being single minded about keeping healthy, and keeping ourselves organised.
Tributes around the internet
In earlier web reports Cilla was quoted as saying that she had semi-retired, was living in Spain and she intended to “Grow old very disgracefully.”
When I interviewed her, she was 37 and about to have her third baby. Always fun-loving, her final quip to me when I asked if she’d like a boy or a girl was:
“I hope it’s another boy, at least it will save on the clothes bills!”
I remember Cilla (who was considered a National Treasure) as funny, down to earth, a me-to-you-type girl who had a non-stop line in coincidental chatter. I used to love her shows when I was younger – who recalls, Surprise Surprise or Blind Date?
Remembering her UK Top 10 singles right now I have a tear in my eye and a frog in my throat – they were all so much a part and parcel of my growing-up ingrained into the fabric of my childhood when I’d listen to the Top 10 each week, those old tunes blaring out from a tiny, crackly radio in my bedroom.
Who else remembers – Anyone who had a heart, Alfie, You’re my world, Step inside love, Something tells me (something is gonna happen tonight), You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling?
I bet some of you do.
It’s a sad day, I feel as if a little piece of my own past has been chipped away at too. She was a much loved and very successful entertainer, who worked hard for her success. So, farewell Priscilla White, farewell Cilla Black, farewell ‘Chuck’ and your “Lorra lorra laughs”, you are going to be missed by more people than you know.