So many memories of and thoughts about Dale Winton. Few knew what a prolific London club DJ he was during the Seventies and Eighties. His knowledge of popular music was encyclopaedic. It was what led Phil 'The Collector' Swern to cast him as host of BBC Radio 2's 'Pick of the Pops' in 2000. Dale hosted the show for a decade, and was born to the role.
His TV-presenter image was at times uncool, in the Michael Barrymore/Les Dennis mould. This was unfortunate. While he relished the roles, he never seemed completely at ease in them. I often felt how much better his face was suited to radio, in the figurative rather than the literal sense, and how much more comfortable he seemed behind a microphone than in front of a television camera.
There have been thankfully few bitter words about him. Many of those paying tribute have applied the word 'kind', and he was nothing if not that. I remember once being late for a medical appointment in Wimpole Street, and driving round and round. Edging along Marylebone High Street for the fifth time, I spied DW gossiping with a shop assistant outside the White Company, when it used to be on the opposite side of the street. He must have spotted me circling, because he started windmilling frantically, jumped in his Range Rover, rolled it forwards to make way for my Renault, and cried, 'Don't worry about the meter, I'll be here for ages and I'll keep an eye!' He relished doing a favour. Anyone and everyone. It is the little things.
Much has been made of his failure to attend his great friend Cilla Black's funeral in 2015. But that was easy to understand. Dale had never recovered from the loss of his mother Sheree, upon whom he doted. His personal void could never be filled, because he had not been able to bring himself to come out to his mum. He had never plucked up the courage to reveal his true identity - though it is reckoned that Sheree probably knew. Cilla, a little over a decade older than Dale, became an adoring mother figure to him. He could not face Cilla's funeral because it was like having to confront his mother's death over again. A similar thing happened to Queen's bassist John Deacon. Having lost his father when he was only eleven years old, John was forced to relive the loss when Freddie Mercury died. Freddie had long been his father figure. His death backed John into the corner where at last he had no choice but to deal with denial. John was unable to cope, lost the plot, quit the band, betrayed his wife with another woman, let down his kids... grief does things. Though it is inappropriate to speculate, perhaps Dale went there too. Reckon in the fact that Sheree took her own life. I won't be surprised to hear what I fear to hear.
R.I.P., kind man. I hope they have vinyl up there.