20 August, 2015, St. Mary's Church, Woolton, Liverpool, UK
I’ve been asked to speak about Cilla on numerous occasions but I never thought I’d be doing it now, at a time like this because I firmly believed that Cilla was indestructible, and I’d most definitely go first, the state of my heart – we discussed my funeral at length, and she had a major role in it that involved a mantilla and lilies so I’m going to have to rethink that aren’t I?
I’ve got fabulous Cilla stories ‘cos we had such a great time together – whenever we went on holiday together, or even if we just went for a simple meal – something always happened – usually to me.
I first met her on Parkinson’s chat show, and we just clicked, we were soul mates. After Bobby died, I went round for dinner to the house, and sat up to 5 in the morning, and we decided to go and stay with Peter Brown in New York, which we did. I introduced her to the finer things of New York – like bars, burlesque shows and nightclubs with such a reputation that taxi drivers were always reticen to drop us off.
But I always used to say to her, give us your jewellery Cilla, so I’d have the ring, the necklace in my pockets, permanently with my hand in my pockets, terrified in case I lost it.
But she loved life, if you said to me, what do you think about Cilla?’ One word, ‘laughter’. Because that’s all we did. We got up to a lot of trouble but we laughed while we were doing it.
I remember her losing her keys and getting wedged in the window in Barbados, with me holding her ankles. And when the neighbours came out, she shouted, ‘surprise, surprise!’
I remember the time I broke my nose in her Jacuzzi in Barbados. Pat will tell you about this. Pat come rushing up the stairs, she couldn’t find any ice, she had the bag of frozen sprouts and she smacked it on my face. I think she broke it even more. And Cilla had been sunbathing, she had no makeup on, and her hair was on end, and we all rushed out into the street, and I don’t know where she got it from, she had a denim skirt on, and a sort of terrible black nylon slip. Hat was in the bathing suit, a sort of chiffon ... she looked like Tessie [?]. And I had the frozen sprouts and a toilet roll. And we all rushed off to the hospital. And it was a packed waiting room, and you can imagine the fuss as we got in, and Cilla had taken the water tablets ... and she had a bad cold as well, and so she was in and out of the toilets, and coming out and going [sniffs and wipes nose] We looked like something out of Shameless.
But these are the memories I have of her. I loved this lady, you have no idea. She was one of my closest friends, I absolutely adored her. And even if I hadn’t spoken to her for some time, we always used to pick up where we left off, whenever we got together. And I always found that quite remarkable.
One of things she always used to say to me was, 'Don't tell our Robert.' She said that quite a lot. She also said, 'Don't tell Pat and don't tell Peter Brown,’ so I’m afraid you three, that’s a promise I’m going to fulfil, and I’m not going to sing like a canary today.
She said after Bobby died that I taught her to laugh again and I never knew that until I read it in the papers. But on the other hand she said, 'He sent a guardian angel, only this one had hooves, horn and a tail.'
It’s so good that she’s come home today, because as Robbie said, she was a true girl of Lond- , [horrified] of Liverpool! Because Scottie Rd was never too far away. Neither was Paddy’s Markets. I don’t forget the humiliation of being # on Madison Avenue in New York, and Cilla haggling over the price of the coats. Which I desperately wanted. I don’t know why, it was a sheepskin, full length, and I looked like some geriatric dressed up at an ABBA convention, but Cilla said, 'If you want it Paul, we’ll get it,' and she said to the guy, ‘there’s a mark on this,’ – ‘yeah there’s a big mark on that’, he said, ‘well we’ve got one in our ... ‘
She said, ‘No we’re going home tonight. And then she said the classic line, ‘what will you do if it red ease?]’
She was just - I don’t know - she taught me lots of things. Mainly, never to turn left, no right on a plane! She was a great friend; She was full of fun. She was a wonderful woman, She was talented. She was so witty. She adored her family. She loved her sons, She loved her grandchildren. She was so proud that she came from Scotty Road.; and I’m just so grateful that she allowed me into her whirlwind of a life. And we spent nearly two decades together hellbent, [to priest] if you’ll pardon the expression, through London, New York, Barbados, Spain and the Maldives, and she was just, she was such a great friend, andso I don’t know what I’m going to do really. The light went off a couple of weeks ago and it hasn’t come back on yet. And then – I’m just going to miss her so much, really.
So Cilla, I’d just like to say, thanks for all the fun, thanks for all the laughs, and as I always used to say to yer, ‘Ta-ra girl, I’ll see you on life’s highway.’