Auntie Doris’s They Died Too Young #32: Thomas Etholen Selfridge – Died September 17th 1908, aged 26


Sometimes people get so wrapped up in an obsession, they are blind to the ruddy risks involved. Like my nephew Michael. Who became so involved with trying on the tights of the dead that the totally disregarded the possibility that his filthy behaviour could open a conduit between this world and the next, which would allow me to manifest myself through his body, eventually taking it over so regularly that he doesn’t know whether it’s Good Friday or Easter Monday, let alone whether he is a living 53 year old man, or a long dead 100 year old woman. But that’s his ruddy problem, we know which table our bread is buttered under, don’t we, readers?
Any road, Thomas Selfridges obsession was flying, and in the early years of the Twentieth century he had been up in airships, strapped to kites, on gliders and all sorts. His motto was “I wish I could fly!” So nobody was ruddy surprised when he teamed up with Orville Wright, the famous airline pilot, and volunteered himself to be a passenger in one of the planes that he was trying to sell to the US Army. (There was no such thing as the US Air Force in those days, because there weren’t all that many aeroplanes knocking about.
Any road, Orville took him up in one of them ruddy old fashioned planes made out of waxed cloth and sticks, only in those days it wasn’t old fashioned at all, in fact it was new fangled. They did three or four laps around Fort Myer in Golden Virginia, when one of the ruddy propellers smashed of and the whole kaboodle smashed into the ground.
That put the dampers on the day. Orville smashed his leg and half of his ribs and had all blood coming out of his nose, but poor old Thomas split his ruddy head open and never regained consciousness. He was pronounced dead soon afterwards, and was awarded the posthumous Iron Cross, or whatever they ruddy had in America in them days, for being the first man ever to die in an aeroplane crash.
His heroic actions paved the way for Glenn Miller, Buddy Holly, Jim Reeves, and hundreds of other ruddy idiots with no more sense than they were born with to defy the Good Lord and try and fly, rather than stay on the ruddy ground where they belonged.
I can’t understand the ruddy fascination with flying anywhere. If it was of any ruddy use they would have opened an Airport at Withernsea before now. But they haven’t, and they have ruddy loads in London; Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick, Piccadilly Circus, the ruddy lot. And you can only catch planes to foreign places from them. Which just shows how much London thinks of the rest of Britain. If old Selfridge had known how things would turn out, he probably wouldn’t have bothered getting himself killed.
As it was, the Americans passed a law in his honour, that said that no one was allowed to ride in an aeroplane in future unless they were wearing a crash helmet. That didn’t last more than five ruddy minutes though. Now, modern airports the world over are full of Americans with cameras hanging around their necks, wearing golf trousers and sunglasses, and asking where the Starbucks is in very loud voices. Poor old Thomas, it looks like he died in ruddy vain.

Auntie Doris’s They Died Too Young #30: Screaming Lord Sutch – Died June 16th 1999, aged 58

David Edward Sutch wasn’t really a Lord, he was one of them maniac depressives. That meant that he spent half his time sincerely believing he was a Lord, or at least deserved to be one, and that everybody loved him and he could do anything that he turned his mind to. Sadly he spent the other half of his time believing that he was a useless lump, who everybody hated, and that everything he attempted was a waste of ruddy time. That’s the problem with them maniac depressives, they spend their whole lives flipping between those two moods. It can only be controlled by tablets to a certain extent, so they are always susceptible to wild highs and desperate lows.
During one of the wild highs, in 1963, he had the idea of paying musical tribute to Jack the Ripper, the famous serial killer and disemboweller of women. It might have been a chart success too, if it hadn’t been banned by the BBC. He followed it with a load of shocking, horror themed songs and used to have a crack potted stage act, where he came out of a coffin and ramped about with a real dagger and all weird ruddy make up all over his face. That ruddy Alice Cooper nicked all of Screaming Lord Sutch’s ideas, and made a fortune out of them. But that’s showbusiness I suppose.
Unfortunately, whilst he was suffering a low, in 1999, Sutch temporarily lost sight of what a genius he was and how much people actually did love him. So he went and ruddy well hanged himself. He always had style though, so he used a multi coloured skipping rope to do the deed with, rather than anything dull.
And he was a far from dull character, was Sutch. He was a funny and entertaining musician, a flamboyant dresser, (he usually had one of them top hats on, even when he was in bed, probably) and the leader of the wonderful Monster Raving Loony Party, in which role he stood as a candidate in forty elections and bye elections up and down the country. He never won any of them, but he brought a bit of colour, character and even common sense to a lot of dull, boring, and idiotic contests. He even gave that ruddy Thatcher a run for her money in the 1983 General Election, so the miserable old bint went and raised the deposit that people had to pay before standing in elections, just to be spiteful.
He knew how to have a good time though. On the night before every election he contested, he would have a victory party, “in order to avoid the disappointment of not being able to have one if he lost” and carried on doing his pop concerts right until the end of his days. Poor bloke. A lot of funny people suffer with that maniac depression. Tony Hancock, Spike Milligans, and that Stephen Fry. It must be something in their water that makes them so good when they aren’t down in the dumps.