Wednesday, October 17, 2012

One of the best speeches I've ever heard

Last night I found myself at the Oldie British Artist Awards in Mayfair. The competition's open to artists over the age of 60. When they announced the winner of the £5,000 prize it turned out to be the small gentleman in the blazer who was sitting, surrounded by family, just in front of me.

He's Donald Zec, a retired showbiz journalist of ninety-three. There he is (left) in the early sixties with one of his illustrious subjects.

Richard Ingrams was making the presentation from an unstable dais eighteen inches from the floor. Donald was invited up and at first it seemed he might not be able to make it. Then I heard him mutter "I'll get there" and he slowly rose, made his way across the room, mounted the dais and then delivered one of the best acceptance speeches I've ever heard. He complimented the other competitors, thanked the magazine and dedicated his success to his wife whose death six years ago had spurred him into painting for the first time. I can't remember all the jokes but one of them involved the words "do not resuscitate" being written at the bottom of his script.

I'm sure Donald was thrilled with the prize. I bet he was a lot more delighted with the chance to make a speech. For a natural show-off like Donald a speech is a pleasure and never a chore at any time. This must be doubly the case when you're ninety-three.

1 comment:

  1. His brother, Philip Zec, was the celebrated wartime cartoonist.

    Or, as more than one exasperated editor was heard to say during an in-house crisis meeting, "What this magazine needs is more Zecs."