Last week the comedian Sean Hughes, who became the youngest ever winner (24) of the Edinburgh Festival Perrier Award in 1990, died of heart failure after a flare up of cirrhosis of the liver aged only 51.
Hughes became a household name through his stand-up and TV shows like Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Sean's Show but drifted out of TV to pursue his writing and poetry and only in recent years had he returned to gigging. He had spoken in the past of his deteriorating health brought on by years of 'extreme hedonism' and also talked openly about not wanting to grow old:
"Well, I don't want to live forever. I can think of nothing worse. I'm aiming for 75 to 80. I don't want to be in a nursing home aged 120, and the nurse coming over and saying: 'Are you enjoying your 120th birthday, Mr Hughes? Blink if you are'.
"How many blinks for 'turn off this machine'? And who is Mr Hughes?"
This poem from 1993 gives an insight into a conflicted character who craved fame and attention but at the same time was repulsed by it. Hughes was an immensely talented and funny comedian and we mourn as much his unfulfilled potential as much as his passing.
Death by Sean Hughes
I want to be cremated
I know how boring funerals can be
I want people to gather
meet new people
have a laugh, a dance, meet a loved one.
I want people to have free drink all night.
I want people to patch together, half truths.
I want people to contradict each other
I want them to say 'I didn't know him but cheers'
I want my parents there,
adding more pain to their life.
I want the Guardian to mis-sprint three lines about me
or to be mentioned on the news
Just before the 'parrot who loves Brookside' story.
I want to have my ashes scattered in a bar,
on the floor, mingle with sawdust,
a bar where beautiful trendy people
Will trample over me… again
Taken from Sean's Book by Sean Hughes, published by Pavilion Books