John Gibson: How one Fat Lady saw the light

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Gone but, and not ashamed to say so, not forgotten.

Quite simply, there wasn’t enough room to fit in all of what Clarissa Dickson Wright had to say to me in an exclusive breakfast blether at her Inveresk home, the Honest Toun’s Musselburgh breeze blowing over our porridge.

Much guffawing when she showed me the matador-sized scar on her formidable tum. She kept clutching at it and I was hoping the Spanish surgeon’s sewing skill was reliable. She’d been in intensive care in a Spanish hospital with an old hernia problem.

‘‘I’m drawn between conventional Christianity and reincarnation. We may come back as Two Thin Ladies. Jennifer was a believer. Profoundly. She was a total fundamentalist Catholic.’’

Clarissa kept referring to Jennifer Paterson, TV’s other Fat Lady who died in 1999.

Talking enthusiastically about her God, Clarissa said: “When I was at the end of my drinking 13 years ago, I’d never thought I was going to die, mainly because I was drunk. I was on my knees one day, cleaning some burned jam off the kitchen floor, thinking that if God wasn’t going to help me I’d be damned if I was going to ask.

‘‘On my knees, saying ‘Dear God, if you’re up there, please do something because I can’t go on’ and next day I got arrested and breathalysed.

‘‘I couldn’t remember where or how they breathalysed me, but when they got me to court they couldn’t find the papers. Nothing happened. A whole series of events occurred until I found myself in a recovery clinic.’’

My recollection of Clarissa is, shall we say, sobering, with her funeral due at St Mary’s Cathedral on April 7. Bye bye to a formidable Fat Lady.