Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tommy Roach

Stolen from Now You're Talking
Tommy Roach was one of life's natural characters. A proud former Desert Rat, he always wore his army beret at a jaunty angle and could be relied upon to put a smile on your face, whether you wanted one or not!
He had been a professional magician on the stage and never left home without a trick or two in his blazer pocket.
Many's the time he could be seen up Market Street with a crowd round him laughing and gasping in amazement as he performed his favourite "disappearing fag" trick which involved it disappearing into his ear and re-appearing down his nose!
Tommy couldn't help himself making people laugh. In the front garden of his run-down terraced house, he would push old light bulbs into the soil to form rows and when some unsuspecting passer-by went past, he would draw on his pipe, nod at the garden and remark:" I see t'bulbs are coming up early this year..."
His house was something else. When he got a hole in the guttering, he put another gutter underneath it to catch the rain. A downspout finished halfway down the house.
He never dusted. He kept his food in plastic bags hanging on a clothes rack in the kitchen. When I asked why he said:"To keep it away from't mice. Mind you the beggars cawnt half jump!"
He slept downstairs and his television "remote control" was an old brush which he used to poke at the controls.
For security purposes, he had a bedstead frame in his lobby and barbed wire round the windows - plugged into the mains supply.
Wherever he went, he picked up pieces of old slate which he used to take home and paint pictures of a surreal nature on them. Sometimes, he would display all the pictures at the front of his house.
Once, when a neighbour who he didn't see eye to eye with, passed away, he stood at the front of his house playing "We'll Meet Again" on his accordion and waving a Union Jack as the funeral procession went past.
When my son Gareth was a baby in his pram, Tommy peered inside and remarked:" Eee - he favvers his dad." As I beamed proudly, he muttered "Still, as long as he's healthy that's aw as matters..."
You had to laugh. That was how it was when Tommy was around.
We could do with a few more like Tommy Roach in Lancashire...
Tommy Roach photographed by Dave Dutton at the now-demolished Laburnum Mill, Atherton

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