Tickling the ivories or simply wrinkling those bushy eyebrows, he has added enormously to innocent public pleasure. Gerald Kaufman reviews Denis Healey: A Life in Our Times by Edward Pearce. Now he's leading the charge against the euro. However, the reality was that when it came to politics and public life, Lord Healey was no ‘silly billy’ as Yarwood suggested. Denis Healey, British politician, was known for using the term as a catchphrase. DENIS HEALEY chats about the budget with Nick Owen and Anne Diamond. Sort of. "That was the most tiring time I ever had, negotiating what I thought were the most lenient conditions and then trying to get your cabinet colleagues to agree when they don't regard them as lenient. Previous Month Next Month January February March April May June July August September October November December. Denis Healey in 1973. Even Prescott, he once said, had the face of a man "who clubs baby seals". The act included playing the part of a fool or idiot, impersonating a child and singing comic songs. Denis Healey, a dexterous British socialist politician who used leadership positions to downsize his country's empire by militarily retreating from Asia in the 1960s and accepting harsh terms for an international loan in the 1970s, died Saturday at his home in Alfriston, Sussex, in Britain, after a short illness, his family announced. He enjoys the Lords, thinks Margaret Jay is "a very able woman, very attractive too". Denis Healey, who has died aged 98, was the polar opposite of that perception. One example typifies many: Pearce states that Anthony Wedgwood Benn increased the Labour majority in the 1984 Chesterfield by-election when, in fact, he reduced it. Four. Denis Winston Healey, poet, photographer, highbrow thug, has called people a lot of names over the years. "I'm in the home of the living dead which is betwixt and between. Chums?" ... TV impressionist Mike Yarwood coined the catchphrase "Silly Billy", which Healey had never actually said until that point. But then, even more sadly for a work of record, this volume is littered with factual errors. Brown has a very powerful mind and I think he's a very good chancellor, and a prime minister who doesn't have a good chancellor is finished." I'd rather spend time with my family." It is even 11 years since he wrote his bestselling autobiography, The Time of My Life, a work which earned him £150,000 and which he refers you back to at intervals as if all activity stopped there. Very different economy. He seems lost for a moment. After spells of gout and diabetes, he has recently lost weight. Healey, who has been sitting immobile like an old cat missing a few teeth, bored and indifferent to the mice frolicking at his feet, opens his red-rimmed blue eyes a little wider. Quotes #1. He's always been pro-Europe, anti-euro, "and my views have just been confirmed by what's happened and I'm always interested when you get someone like Eddie George saying it's a mistake". Hurd: "A tattered Talleyrand"; Howe: "a dead sheep". Dennis Healey (Silly Billy) Enregistrée par Lichfield In-Pictures. But it's a busier job now, so much faster..." There are fewer jokes, too, he says, far fewer people being savaged by dead sheep, or nuzzled by old rams. Thatcher: "Virago intacta", "la Pasionaria of privilege" or "That bloody woman". What are you then? Pearce proclaims in his introduction: "This is a political life", and so, grimly, most of it is. A whisky mac, I say. "I don't hang out with people in that sense and never have. 'Silly Billy was a type of clown common at fairs in England during the 19th century. ... Silly billy! "Do you want my clothes off?" This buoyant, cheeky character scarcely appears in this book. When people of a certain age think of Denis Healey, what comes into their minds are visions of a man with a burly figure and bushy eyebrows who was often impersonated by the comedian Mike Yarwood. Silly Billy was a type of clown common at fairs in England during the 19th century. We get lost in the kitchens on the way. He calls the Blair, Brown, Prescott triumvirate the "Holy Trinity". You don't believe me, do you dear? And of course Gordon hasn't yet had the sort of crisis which the oil crisis produced for me. "In the old days I used to get £5,000 a time. Yes, yes, yes.". "I said, 'I've got a bird out here who needs going over.' Though not as good as advertising. Denis Winston Healey, Baron Healey, PC (born 30 August 1917), is a British Labour politician, regarded by many as "the best Prime Minister we never had".. It's true that if a bishop stabs another in the back you can't see the blood flowing down because he wears a red surplice, but that's the only difference. He watches my face to see the penny drop. "Chris Smith is very interested in the arts. They were also common in London as a street entertainer, along with the similar clown Billy Barlow. Healey adopted it and used it to put down opponents. "He doesn't have the face for it.". ", Lady Healey, he tells me, is writing two books at the moment, one about Emma Darwin, the other about "the wife of that champagne socialist called Denis Healey". There are reasons to be cheerful in November’s GDP figures, Six ways to get through the winter lockdown (and even enjoy it), Dutch government resigns over childcare subsidies. Usage notes . Denis Healey: August 30th, 1917 - October 3rd, 2015. He vacated his last cabinet post, as opposition spokesman for foreign affairs, in 1987. "I don't like champagne actually," he said, "I like whisky and ginger wine." Accordingly, readers are treated on the same page to the ungermane opinions of Dr Marcello Caetano, a Prime Minister of Portugal in the 1970s, and of a voter in Lincoln about a former Conservative candidate for the constituency, Jonathan Guinness. I spent half an hour once just sitting there, pretending I wasn't, with somebody else's hands making scrambled egg with smoked salmon for Sainsbury's and I got £50,000." I have always wondered why a toughie like Healey should have shrunk from war in the Falklands, the Gulf, Kosovo and Afghanistan; he backed, to my mind, the wrong policies every time. [1] The act included playing the part of a fool or idiot, impersonating a child and singing comic songs. You can be silly, > you can do silly things, or you can do things sillily. DURING THE past 20 years, Denis Healey has been one of the most entertaining figures in British public life. There are many quotes from him.... they're in my book. Silly Billy (plural Silly Billies) An epithet used in mild teasing for a silly person, or one who has just done something of a foolish nature. Not bad, hmm? The real Lord Healey ". ", The more he jokes, the less humour seems to emanate from Healey. He was 98. The book's most revealing disclosure about Healey's life is the account of his battle experiences as an army officer in Italy during the war, in which he was exposed to the kind of danger and witnessed suffering which must have stayed with him for life. "The public meeting is finished so you only really meet politicians now if you go to their surgeries and very few people do that, and otherwise they're just faces on the box so they feel more distant." I'm reading Charlotte Brontë at the moment. ", Next week, Lord Healey and Edna, his wife of 55 years, are off to Greece on a freebie. The House of Lords." When Big Ben strikes the hour, Healey looks at his watch. I once shaved them off and my trousers fell down so I had to let them grow again. Mike Yarwood invented "Silly Billy" as a catchphrase for his impersonation of Healey. It had actually been coined by the impressionist Mike Yarwood, but Denis had adopted it as his own. I have my garden, my photography. He looks engaged for the first time, enthusiastic. "That's right. Blair is a charismatic figure with a silver tongue and..." There is a pause. I just supported the thing which I suppose David probably wrote.". Maybe the rhetorical putdown has been replaced by the spin? People get laughed at despite themselves." So he doesn't watch the goings-on next door with his fingers twitching? They used his eyebrows on buses once. “Whose a silly-billy then?” some would say, repeating back to him his catchphrase. I would guess that his publishers (who did us all a favour when they, as Pearce acknowledges, "coaxed me into reducing [it]") grew frantic as they hacked their way through the thickets of this impenetrable text and eventually screamed to Pearce, "For God's sake, lighten it up." Trying to create a sense of common interest does involve getting people actually to work together on common problems. Denis Healey was the brilliant and brutal star of the Callaghan government. Denis Winston Healey, Baron Healey, CH MBE PC FRSL (30 August 1917 – 3 October 2015) was a British Labour Party politician who served as Secretary of State for Defence from 1964 to 1970 and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1974 to 1979.. Now he's leading the charge against the euro. Denis Healey - who has died at the age of 98 - was the last of the great post-war generation of political "big beasts" who dominated British government in the 1960s and 70s. He was a "pretty good" chancellor himself, he adds, though everybody in the party hated him "because you have to deny them all the time" and there was that spot of bother with the IMF. But in my experience - and I have lived in many different worlds, politics, the arts, contact with the church though I'm not a believing Christian - at the top of any profession you have exactly the same kind of jungle war. But it is not just Healey whom Pearce quotes or cites: people Healey may perhaps have met, or even pretty certainly never did meet, also earn references, sometimes prolonged. This key episode in Healey's life and his party's history gets 12 pages out of 634. Not even in euros. Whatever happened to silly billy? ... And "Silly Billy" became his catchphrase courtesy of impressionist Mike Yarwood. I hardly know Alastair Campbell but I have a great sympathy for him because he spent some of his childhood at Keighley where I was brought up. Ostensibly, we have met to discuss Labour and the single European currency. He's not being paid, which galls a little. Denis Healey - who has died at the age of 98 - was the last of the great post-war generation of political "big beasts" who dominated British government in the 1960s and 70s. We've got four. "They're a perfect mix, really. When Mike Yarwood gave him the catchphrase “Silly Billy”, Healey made it his own. Toggle Calendar. 1. There are also continuous allusive references, for reasons best known to Pearce, to The Importance of Being Earnest, one of them, sadly, seriously inaccurate. "Chums? "Come off it, dear," he says when once he might have hollered "silly bugger". We are no longer one of the world's three great powers. The most important, indeed indispensable, achievement in Healey's public career was not his period as Secretary of State for Defence (exhaustively and exhaustingly chronicled here) nor his near-disastrous spell as Chancellor of the Exchequer (when, on the basis of inaccurate figures supplied by the Treasury, he put Britain into pawn with the International Monetary Fund), but his defeat of Wedgwood Benn in 1981 for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party which, if Wedgwood Benn had won it, would have led ineluctably to the party's destruction. Healey has to go to a meeting in Thessalonika - "Oh, it'll be about everything that is happening in the world with a lot of Europeans, Americans, Japanese and Arabs, that sort of thing." he says. But now you don't get people deliberately making people laugh. Denis Healey was one of the most memorable British politicians of the 21st Century. Exactly so. "Um... er... come on, lad. He is 82 now and it is eight years since the politician believed by many to be the great Labour leader we never had - "brilliant and brutal" in the words of the Guardian's Hugo Young - gave up his seat as MP for Leeds East. "You need people like Peter Mandelson with that ability to present things. Hey there! When asked who "his chums" were, he gets caught up in the word. "Brown. Politique Peuple. Lord Healey, a member of David Owen's New Europe group, left his Sussex garden recently to speak out, along with Nigel Lawson - "of all people" - against joining. Gerald Kaufman reviews Denis Healey: A Life in Our Times by Edward Pearce. ... ‘Silly billy’ Mike Yarwood. When an opponent criticised him and said "Denis Healey would sell his own grandmother", his deputy at the Treasury leapt to his defence with "No, he would get me to do it for him" Mike Yarwood invented "Silly Billy" as a catchphrase for his impersonation of Healey. Today, we're just settling for "dear". Each has qualities the other lacks. It is no > different than using words like foolishly or smartly or clownishly. You see it in Trollope. "One thing is still the same," he goes on sternly. Healey was anything but a 'Silly Billy'. As the Glasgow Herald reported in April 1978 "Chancellor Denis Healey tried to impersonate comedian Mike Yarwood during an election walk-about yesterday. Teatime quiz The Chase is one of ITV’s biggest hits, hosted by Bradley Walsh and featuring Chasers Anne Hegerty and quiz show veteran and general know-it-all Mark Labbett He's been on Sky the day before this interview, "though you get paid for that". But it's a very different world now. Welcome to the Digital Spy forums. Quotes Denis Healey. Link/Page Citation Byline: Brian Reade pays tribute to Denis Healey, who died on Saturday, aged 98 There is much talk these days of politicians being bland careerists with little experience and few interests outside the Westminster bubble. He isn't, he reminds me, being paid. Healey the front-bench politician was on the whole pretty boring. It is therefore especially sad that tundra-like tracts of this almost interminable official Life should be so gruesomely unreadable: the style pretentious, even the punctuation - replete with hundreds of superfluous commas, hyphens and exclamation marks - a travail. Saturday, January 09, 2021 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence. When people are competing for fame or position, then it's a jungle war. But he won't be drawn any more than that, won't discuss the ferrets fighting in a bag, apart from to say that Hague stole that phrase from someone, "probably from me". Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa It is a long time to hang out in your hinterland and, Healeys living as long as they do (his father died at 92, his mother at 99), there is more time to come. In London as a stooge to another clown you can do silly things, not just to talk about.... 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