From the Rough: Alan Coren (1938-2007)

Clive lays down his golf clubs and picks up a pen to pay tribute to an outstanding journalist, great humorist and favourite relative.

Wednesday was a sad day. Instead of participating in the MacRyder Cup in Scotland, I was at the funeral of Alan Coren. Not only was he my favourite cousin, but he was also my hero. Ever since we grew up together on the same suburban street in Southgate, North London, I have followed his spectacular progress through life with enormous pride.

From our local grammar school, he went to Wadham College, Oxford on a scholarship and then university in California. It was whilst there that he submitted the first of his articles to Punch magazine, a wonderfully witty piece about Green Shield stamps as I recall. On returning to this country, he joined the staff at Punch and eventually became Editor. His articles were consistently brilliant, incredibly clever and hysterically funny. I remember laughing uncontrollably on the upper deck of a 159 bus on my way to work at one of his famous parodies of the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. After he left to edit The Listener, Punch went rapidly downhill and is now defunct.

Probably best known for his appearances on Call My Bluff and The News Quiz, it was his weekly column in The Times that I enjoyed the most. He had an extraordinary gift for identifying the absurd ? especially in himself ? and then gently laughing at it with great warmth and humanity.

Although I tried to persuade him to take up golf, he was far too busy keeping us amused. The nearest he came was entitling one of his books, ?Golfing for Cats.? Why? Because his publisher told him that the three subjects that sold best were golf, cats and fascism. Oh yes, the book?s cover was emblazoned with a big swastika.

Sometimes, three putting doesn?t seem such a terrible thing after all. It didn?t on Wednesday. Thanks for everything, Alan.

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