Today we lost the great Clement Freud, grandson of Sigmund Freud and father of the fragrant Emma Freud and others. Yes I’m sorry, I am rather ignorant when it comes to his home life but I only ever knew him from his radio appearances and books. He was an old fashioned gentleman and the world will be poorer without him.
The first time I heard him, was on the eternal radio panel show that is Just a Minute. I would have been in my early teens at the time and an avid listener to Radio 4. I was a peculiar teenager in that respect. Most kids of that age would have been out playing football until all hours but I was in the house, either reading a Sherlock Holmes story or listening to Radio 4. However this is a tale for another time: back to Mr Freud.
So I was listening to just a minute, my favourite comedian was on it so I was especially tuned in. He was a young fellow who personified everything I loved about British comedy; his name was and is Stephen Fry. As the show progressed I became aware of another voice. (Well when I say aware, I mean I heard it coming out of the speakers. It wasn’t a haunting distant noise or anything.) That voice belonged to Clement Freud; it stood out among those of the comedians who were all laugh hungry and playing to the floor. It was a quiet and deliberate voice, almost a monotone in fact, but what it said was funny. It didn’t clamber for attention like the voices of so many of us who practice the dark art that is comedy. It just waited patiently to be heard and then entertained everyone.
Now don’t go thinking that I’m giving his voice too much attention. The voice is the servant of the man and what a man. He was a cook, Member of Parliament, author, raconteur and good egg and he achieved all of those by always sounding like he was sitting in a deck chair in his back garden with a gin and tonic in his hand and the cricket on the radio.
He will be sadly missed.