John Gibson: No dud, the new man on the piano

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Remember it well. The night John Dankworth introduced on stage at the Usher Hall a virtually unknown jazz pianist to play with his orchestra. Dudley Moore.

Dud’s comedic talent, allied to his keyboard skills, in Beyond the Fringe put him firmly on the road to success throughout the UK and fruitful collaboration with ballerina Gillian Lynne.

Gillian, whose book’ A Dance in Wartime, is out now, also remembers Dud well: “He also had a strand of manic depression in him which got worse as he got older. And then he got this horrible illness – progressive supra-nuclear palsy, like Parkinson’s – which travelled around his body, causing his nerve endings to degenerate. I remember thinking, when that gets to his hands he’ll die because he won’t be able to play. He died in 2002.”

While we’re dealing in deathly prose, allow me to add here my relief at the news that Dick Van Dyke’s blinding headaches and chronic tiredness have at last been cured.

So tired, so painful that he has been cancelling public appearances until the medics pinned down the cause - titanium dental implants. A false alarm, then.

We don’t want Dick to die because a bit of Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty would die with him. Near enough the pleasantest Hollywood ‘‘legend’’ I’ve buttonholed in Edinburgh.

Afterwords . . .

. . . Was that David Mellor I saw pictured in the papers recently? OMG!