Now you see him…

News reaches me of the death of Ali Bongo, aged 79. Bongo (real name William Wallace, strangely enough) will be remembered by Brits of a certain age as a magician who appeared regularly on kids TV during the ’70’s. I’m sure he was a genius, and an all-round good egg, but I can’t help remembering the sense of unease I felt when I saw him on the box.

From a young age I quickly decided I didn’t like him. He certainly wasn’t very funny (whatever the quality of his tricks), but he certainly was very very creepy. Just looked like a dodgy uncle to me. Very unsettling. You know the type, faces that need a good slapping: Ross and Norris McWhirter; Robert Mugabe; Hazel Blears; The Chuckle Brothers etc.

Cricketer Geoff Boycott once asked a teammate “why does everyone take an instant dislike to me?”
“cos It saves time, Geoffrey” came the reply.
I thought once the IRA had done for Norris McWhirter that my discomfort would be halved at only watching one twin. Not a bit of it. There’s something even wierder about one twin, especially one identical twin. What’s he identical to, then? You keep trying to look behind him to see the other one. I married one once (a twin, that is, NOT a McWhirter). For legal reasons I can say there was nothing weird about her. NOR her enormous, rugby-playing brother. He was a particularly good bloke.
Sadly, like one of Ali Bongo’s magic acts, the marriage lasted about five minutes, went up in a puff of smoke, and it wasn’t very funny either.

See Ali in all his glory

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