Waking up to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 can sometimes be an upsetting business. I woke up suddenly this morning gripped with what felt like fear and with tears in my eyes. Could I have heard the news correctly: that comedian Jeremy Hardy had died, having drowned in the River Thames??! Jeremy Hardy is one of my all-time favourite comedians.
I staggered downstairs to my study and booted up my PC while I went for a pee. I had to reboot it again when I returned as some integral Windows service hadn’t started and was giving me errors galore. Oh, for goodness sake! It was for MSI Live Update — my motherboard monitoring program. Uninstall and another reboot. I was getting quite concerned and upset by this point.
I heard the ‘news’ on the BBC, so I headed straight over to the BBC News website and tapped ‘Jeremy Hardy’ into the search box … nothing. Well, nothing to indicate that he’d died. Hmmm… Google search next. Nothing. Was I imagining this? How sick am I that I imagine my favourite comedians drowning in the Thames?!
Back to BBC News and I widened my search: comedian drown — nothing. Comedian + Thames returned what I had actually heard:
Comedian’s body found in Thames
The body of comedian Malcolm Hardee has been found in the Thames near his home …
Malcolm Hardee! Not Jeremy Hardy. Now, it’s hard at this point not to feel some relief that Jeremy Hardy hasn’t died, when it’s clear that another talented comedian — hailed by his website, and presumably also those who wrote it, as the ‘Father of British Alternative Comedy’ — with a not too dissimilar-sounding surname has. But, I am.
I’m now a little hesitant about listening to the news in my sleep again. Who knows what I’ll pick up next time: that they’ve put a man on the moon!? or that scientists have invented a radio-like contraption for viewing moving pictures with sound!? or that otters are now eligible for housing benefit!? or …