Thursday, 10 September 2009

There are still 'Reasons To Be Cheerful' in Britain Today

If you're feeling a bit miserable, it's always good to think of someone who has had it worse than you. The late Ian Dury, who died of cancer at the age of 57 in 2000, was such a person who came to mind. In particular his song, 'Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3'.

When Ian was seven years old he contracted polio, quite possibly from a swimming pool at Southend on Sea during the 1949 epidemic. He spent the next year and a half in hospital and the first 6 weeks in a plaster cast. I can empathise a little bit because, I broke my leg at the age of 4 in 1951 and spent 6 weeks in hospital, with my leg in plaster cast.

Dury was clearly talented and after grammar school and art college, in 1964 he won a place at the Royal College of Art. His career in music started when he was inspired to form his own band following the death of Gene Vincent in 1970.
It was with 'The Blockheads' that he found success with songs like,

'Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick' and in 1979

'Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3'.

When AIDS first came to prominence in the mid-1980s, Dury was among celebrities who appeared on UK television to promote safe sex. In the 1990s, he became an ambassador for UNICEF, recruiting stars such as Robbie Williams to publicise the cause. The two visited Sri Lanka in this capacity to promote polio vaccination. Dury appeared with Curve on the Peace Together concert and CD (1993), performing "What a Waste", with benefits to the Youth of Northern Ireland. He also supported the charity Cancer BACUP.

Dury died of metastatic liver cancer on 27 March 2000, aged 57. An obituary in The Guardian read: 'One of few true originals of the English music scene'. The 250 mourners at his funeral included fellow musicians Suggs and Jools Holland as well as the M.P., Mo Mowlam.

Annette Furley, who took the service said : "He continued to gig even through his illness and he never lost his sense of humour. Even on the day he died he was still telling jokes."

After the service, Robbie Williams called him a "wonderful man".

The references in the lyrics of 'Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3' can be found at the B.B.C. website :

And the song itself :

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