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« ASH and the Observer | Main | Smoke on the water »

Alan Plater has gone outside

I was very sorry to read that the dramatist and screenwriter Alan Plater died yesterday, aged 75. Alan wrote the lyrics to "I'm Going Outside" which features on the Boisdale/Forest CD You Can't Do That! Songs For Swinging Smokers. He was delighted with the recording and sent this email:

Dear Simon

CDs arrived this morning - lovely set which we played over a late and lingering breakfast - will pass on to all worthy friends.

Best wishes

Unfortunately he and his wife Shirley were unable to attend the Forest dinner at The Savoy when "I'm Going Outside" was performed live for the first time. (The event conflicted with a prior engagement in Orkney.) Nevertheless, he sent us a message which I read out on the night:

Hope you're having a wonderful evening - and since we're probably hanging around a cycle shed in Orkney trying to light a fag in pouring rain and a Force 10 gale it's pretty noble of us to be thinking of you at all.

Alan also sent me the lyrics for "I'm Going Outside" which we reproduced on the back of the menu. Sub-titled "Lament for July 1st 2007" they read:

I'm going outside and I may be some time
Good enough for Churchill but now it's a crime
The puritans in Whitehall say I'm lower than slime
So I'm going outside and I may be some time

They've issued banning orders to the taprooms and the clubs
You can only have a smoke if you're banged up in Wormwood Scrubs
The wagging of the fingers and the shaking of the heads
Have sent us all a scurrying to the cycle sheds

I may be some time 'cause I'm going outside
Call me unworthy but I've got my pride
Call me unclean but let me confide
I may be some time 'cause I'm going outside

I blame Sir Walter Raleigh for bringing home the fruit
The imperial tobacconists who corner all the loot
The hypocrites in government who grab their share of swag
A plague on all their houses and I need a drag

I'm going outside and I may be some time
Once approved by Royalty but now it's a crime
We're now officially classified as lower than slime
So I'm going outside and I may be some time

Quit smoking, save your money and get wealthy
And you're guaranteed to die of something healthy
But I'm going outside and I may be some time

Alan was on the Forest mailing list and I know he opened our emails - so we kept in touch, sort of.

Unknown to me, he was diagnosed with cancer three years ago but continued to work. Best known for his prolific output for television, the Daily Telegraph reports that "His final television play, Joe Maddison's War, set in Newcastle during the Second World War, is in production for ITV, and stars Kevin Whately and Robson Green, with a cameo appearance by Sir Derek Jacobi".

You can read the full obituary in the Telegraph HERE.

Reader Comments (4)

What wonderful lyrics and so apt for showing up the madness of this 21st century.
A great man and a sad loss.
May he rest in peace.

June 26, 2010 at 16:44 | Unregistered Commenterann

I think those lyrics deserve to be printed, framed and hung in our houses where visitors can see them.

June 26, 2010 at 16:47 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

When will our 'do no harm' doctors recognise that for those who have much to give or who may not be born with a happy temperament, a smoke can help ideas come together, or make life worth living?

June 26, 2010 at 17:12 | Unregistered CommenterNorman

Yes, it's a brilliant song.

Sad and sexy, too.

And so, so true..................................

June 26, 2010 at 18:48 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

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