Television and radio favourite Arthur Smith is coming to Eastbourne to headline a special comedy night in honour of political giant and local resident Denis Healey, who passed away in October.
Stand up for Labour takes place on Saturday 23 January at the Under Ground Theatre, where the former Chancellor of the Exchequer notably appeared in a fundraiser for Eastbourne Labour Party in 2013.
That night, Lord Healey performed a number of poems and songs from his childhood and was reunited with Arthur Smith, with whom he shot a radio show in Naples.
Arthur Smith said, “I spent a brilliant three days with Denis in Naples and was really impressed by his erudition, his wit, his appetite for life and his thoughtfulness.
“I was apprehensive about interviewing such a distinguished man but Denis was a tremendous hoot from our initial meeting at Gatwick to the moment, two and-a-half days later, when he dropped me off in his chauffeured motor outside my flat.
“Travelling with someone of elevated status (Denis did not, thank goodness, ask to be addressed as Lord Healey) is different from the de-humanising misery of ordinary air travel.
“On boarding, Denis drank wine and serenaded the crew with Italian arias.
“They were, like everyone else we encountered on the trip, completely charmed by the old fellow (as he called himself).
“He peppered me with cracking stories about Churchill, Ghandi, Montgomery, Gorbachev, the Milan Opera House, Capri and his joy in discovering vino rosso. And bianco.
“He balanced two of my fags on each eyebrow, a trick I hope one day to emulate (I have done one). If Sara-Jane and I left him for five minutes, he would invariably have acquired a curious audience of locals whom he quickly captivated - if need be by removing his false teeth.”
“He was 75, had lived through the war, been close to great events of the second half of the twentieth century, served as Defence Secretary and Chancellor, was known as the ‘best Prime-Minister we never had’, and yet he retained a child-like appetite for life; his brio, his un-English savoir-vivre was infectious and I joined him in singing, quoting Dante and living the days with Neopolitan gusto.
“I met him several times subsequently. At the event in Eastbourne I asked him, ‘What is good about being 95?’ He replied, ‘Well it’s better than being dead. I think’.”
Also appearing in Stand Up for Labour - in honour of Denis Healey are Red Dwarf’s deadpan genius Norman Lovett and Irish political geek Grainne Maguire.
Guest speaker on the night is Baron Bassam of Brighton.
Money raised goes to Eastbourne Labour Party.
Jake Lambert, who was Labour’s candidate in the General Election, said, “We wanted to honour Lord Healey who was a towering figure in British politics and made such a big impression at our Stand Up for Labour event two years ago.”
Denis Healey lived in Alfriston and had many friends locally and in neighbouring town Lewes.
For more information and to purchase tickets at £15 each visit www.denishealeytribute.eventbrite.
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