Tea and sympathy

by Lee Simkins

It was Roger’s son, my old “mucker” Andy, who told me, back in the early ’80s, that his father was looking for an office junior at Variety and asked me if I was interested. I thought it may do me for a year whilst I decided which career path to follow. That year lasted 20 years but then, I had been hooked the very first time I met Roger and Pat at my interview, which took place in the kitchen of their home in Shooters Hill, over a cup of Earl Grey and an endless supply of chocolate biscuits. I immediately felt at home in their company. They looked after me so well that day and continued to do so during the years that followed.

Variety was my first proper job since leaving school and I was a little wet behind the ears but Roger took me under his wing and it wasn’t too long before I settled in and got used to some of the real characters that worked in the old building on the Corner of St. James’s and Piccadilly. However, I never got used to some of the awful jokes that Roger came out with on a regular basis, some of which I can’t repeat as there may be youngsters reading this, before the Nine O’Clock Watershed! I’m terrible at remembering jokes but I vaguely recall a “leeking from Peking” joke and an “Earwig O” joke that he told. If anyone can remember them in full, do tell.

It wasn’t just at work that Roger looked after me. I remember both Pat and he coming round, on a regular basis, to the flat that Andy and I owned to tend to our garden, which would allow the two of us to chill out with a beer or two, whilst watching Spurs win at home on TV!

The greatest tribute I can pay is that he was like a second father to me in my early years at Variety and I have always cherished the great kindness and help he extended to me at that time. His enthusiasm for all things, his great sense of humour (he was never in a bad mood) and love of life are just some of things I will always remember about him.

I’ll raise a glass to you, Rog – you will be sadly missed.