"Comedy always works best when it is mean-spirited" - John Cleese

Author John Corby also writes as "Bulldogge" for the British Canadian newspaper.

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Sunday, August 07, 2011

Three Harrys and an H Bomb

All three Harrys in this strange tale were British. All three were famous and all three are dead. What is strange is how one of the Harrys made the other two happy Harrys by mistake.

Let us start with the first Harry. He was James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE, FRS, FSS, PC, better known simply as Harold Wilson, the pipe-smoking prime minister of Britain from 1964 until 1970 and then again from 1974 until 1976.

The second was Harry H. Corbett, born in Rangoon, Burma, the son of a British army officer. Corbett earned fame as an actor for his role as Harold Steptoe in the hit TV show "Steptoe and Son". He was also a strong supporter of the British Labour Party and a friend of Labour prime minister Harold Wilson.

The third Harry of this strange tale was the very similarly named Harry Corbett, the son of a coal miner. Harry  number three was deaf in one ear which halted his ambition to become a musician. However, he did achieve fame in the entertainment world as a puppeteer with his stage and TV act involving a mischievous teddy bear called "Sooty".

The first Harry, the prime minister intended to honour his friend and supporter Harry H. Corbett with an OBE (Order of the British Empire). But, due to bureaucratic bungling, the middle initial "H" was dropped from the paperwork and the honour went by mistake to Harry H-less Corbett - the puppeteer.

The error must have embarassed the prime minister and disappointed the intended recipient who was nevertheless also rewarded with an OBE in the new year's honour list of 1976.

The moral of the story is "never drop your H's".

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