On the face of it

People are not always who they seem to be. Inside anybody there is always somebody else. Often lots of somebody elses.

These days, me, I am mostly me. But sometimes I am Professor Karl Popper, Django Reinhardt or Sir Leonard Hutton: the wise philosopher, the master guitar player or the prince of cricketers.

It depends on what I am reading, what music I’m listening to or if I am striding to the crease to bat No.11 for the fourth team.

Sometimes I am Delia Smith, though not for long. Saturday, coming out of the bookies I am Carson, Eddery or, recently, Piggott.

Sunday, coming out of church, I am of course Cardinal Basil Hume. Wednesday nights after M*A*S*H my wife finds Hawkeye Pierce or Corporal Klinger climbing into bed with her. And once, memorably, Colonel Potter.
I’ve never been John Wayne or Denis Thatcher, but when I was young I was always John “The Gentle Giant” Charles.

Any one person has it in them to be, briefly, other persons.

We all know this about ourselves and about other people’s selves and we get along with each other.

Or, rather, with each other’s each others. See what I mean? No? Well, cop this.

In Oshkesh, Wisconsin, Mark Peterson – “shy, bespectacled ex-supermarket storeman” invited Jennifer “20-years-old, fun-loving ex-waitress” to go out with him.

They went to a coffee shop for cappuccinos, burgers and carrot cake. “I wanted to give her a fling!” Mark, 29, told the court.

On the way home he asked Marjorie (yes, she’s Marjorie now, aged 17 – keep track of this; I can’t) if it would be “at all possible for us to, er, well, make love? Sure thing!” said Caroline, aged 25. “I thought he meant we were going dancing,” said Shirley – Ann, aged 19.

Mark takes off his spectacles and makes love, as agreed. To Joanne, aged 14. When Emily aged five, told the police that Mark had molested her he got slung in the slammer with $100,000 bail needed and 10 years bird likely.

This is the statutory sentence in Wisconsin State for taking advantage of a mentally disturbed person – and quite right too.

The poor creature was multi-schizophrenic. She was 46 different personalities.

The judge so far has heard eight of her giving evidence – all different voices, mannerisms, ages, eight selves down, 38 to come.

One very sick woman, one bewildered man, one baffled judiciary. It raises a question that is common to us all – who the heck are we? I tell you all this because of two things that happened yesterday morning.

First I heard Prof. Anthony Clare on Radio 4 explaining that some mild drug for colds and flu can induce hallucinations to such a point that one patient, a sane man, who had taken too many tablets, came into a doctor’s waiting room convinced that he was Terry Wogan and interviewed everybody.

The other thing happened to me in Gateways. My face and voice are often recognised and while I find it embarrassing and unnerving it is my own fault, isn’t it? After all, if I make a living by putting my face about on television and the stage and the middle page of a national newspaper, well it served me right if people in the chip shop or the library come and say: “Hey! I know you! You’re off the telly! You’re…hang on, I’ll get it…you’re wottsissname! You’re a personality!”

Well, I learn how to deal with it. “Yes,” I say, “I’m wottsissname.” But yesterday in the supermarket a little girl stopped my trolley and stared up at me. “Mister do you know who you are?” she said.

Who indeed?

This text previously appeared in the Yorkshire Post

Buy the DVD

jake bbc dvd

The DVD of the BBC series 'Jake Thackray and Songs' is now available to buy online via Amazon. http://tinyurl.com/JakeDVD

'Magnificent' (The Independent)

'Jake Thackray and Songs', broadcast in 1981, captures him at the height of his powers; it paints an intimate portrait of Jake as a live artist, playing to audiences in the small venues where he felt most comfortable.

This BBC-licensed DVD, professionally produced from the original BBC masters, features all of Jake's performances from the series: thirty of his greatest songs, along with his inimitable between-songs chat and storytelling.

Also included are previously unreleased performances by three outstanding guest artists: Ralph McTell, Alex Glasgow and Pete Scott.