Ta-Ra, Tony: At the Funeral of Tony Allen

Photo: Alan Cox


                                   For Anthony Lawrence Allen 4th March 1945 – 1st December 2023 

After the jokes end there’s strange air working its way

Across London, as it was a cold day this morning,
But then suddenly, it relaxed, as if achieving the sigh
That you would have released to help form it,
With all of your act’s mock surprise masking anger
At the injusticies dealt by death’s tax.

Then, on cue it rained, 45 minutes before
The sad service; perhaps some tears sent from Heathcote
And later contemporaries like Rik Mayall. But then,
This is fucking England of course,  the not so great
Unsteady ship surfing, sinking; the HMS Dissolution,
From which spirits swim swiftly, desperately

Trawling distance as the still surviving flesh
Duly fails. But then, all of us are the rain, when friends
And the courageous escape us, for we are each
Aware that by leaving they make life the punchline,
For which sometimes Devil dealt we’re all prone.
So, attempt to attach yourself Tone, to the nearest

And next winsome Angel, so that as I strain to hear
Your low laughter, we homed and horny will endeavour
To feel less alone. I remember that you came to my birthdays,
Met Jan, and we had manly hugs fairly often; your hat
And leather jacket, a cosmos that bereft of stars
Mates can make. Shortarse that I am, I could take much

From your myth and 6 foot 3 story tower, including tales
Of comedy and resistance, from the Frestonian fringe
Beside Heathcote, and passed Alexi Sayle’s crewcut,
Who with Stewart Lee stood there respectfully today
At your Wake. Moments before the sun spoke,
Clearing the clouds to shine brightly. Alan Cox showed me

The rainbow he had carefully caught on his phone.
The Funeral was a 35 minute set, with Jonny FluffyPunk
As main mourner. Coralling love and affection in front
Of your wicker bed and last home. The Service was free
Of religion, (Thank God) and therefore a secular little riot.
Your main request for the service was that ‘No-one should wank.’

We obeyed. As we strained to hear the first tape, a 1981
Alternative Cabaret gig recording, within which your voice
Squatted like an echo on air. Points were made. And those two
Or three minutes ghosted, before Becky Fury’s spirited Attitude
Reading, and Sharon Landau’s sweet singing as we all

Counterpointed beneath, before Jonny read from your great

Grimaldian epic. Destined now to be forever incomplete,
Words worked wonders as life through the lines made death
Thief, taking you from your friends and from this glorious
Project, which consumed you while cancer became its own
Succubus. But fuck that, brave boy, this was a mix of mates
And days outrage coloured. It was not in the end a sad service, 

But what a laugh should be: obvious. Today, Jan, Alan
And I made our social island, one of a brace your life’s
Oceans placed within your bright bay. All could still see you
Loom through the room, even as you left the world
You helped rumble, as we drank and ate after and as you
Stepped from the stage into earth, where some of the poor

Sods of old now will now wear the founding foam
Your shouts spittled, as you provoked spume and humour,
By splitting the spleen to find worth. I didn’t know you
That well, but a decade’s worth held true value.
Afterall, a warm and generous spirit, inside a mountain
Of man stirs a spell, from which everyday magic is made,

Which is the corps d’ esprit of the stand-up, so many
Of whom you had guided; your early days jew-fro
A beacon atop your red or white braces, lugubrious lurch
And groundswell. Opening up now for you, not so far
From Ladbroke Grove, your Valhalla; or was that your Asgard,
Your Jerusalem Gate, Shangri-La? It doesn’t matter.  

For as you go, you strip yet another piece of gold
From the breastplate, or grail, or chalice that those
You leave behind can see glimmer as we raised our toast
To you at the Bar.  Born in the War you raged on; Comedian,
Author, Actor, Activist, Teacher, Speaker and Playwright,
Heckler, Host, Guardian. Protector of the cause, beaming boy,

And gruesome enforcer, puller of wool from eye cover
And untier of all things Gordian. Ta-ra, Tony, street Prince,
And inveterate Ruler of Rebels. Banksy may have been there
Today to salute you, I wouldn’t have known. But what larks!
But there were the Samms brothers as well as reps
From the above and below Counter culture; a collective

Of media types, singers, writers, comics, performers,
Neighbours and friends, chasing sparks that you
Always struck. They would have heard it on stage
And can read it, in Attitude and in recalling Speakers Corner,
Summer in the Park, voiced today by John Miles. And then
With it all sweetly spun in Den Levitt’s Goodnight Irene adaptation

As we bid farewell to you, Tony. A soft chorale showing
That through sighs and tears there’s still smiles.
Which is as it it should be; one face emerging from another;
That divine and dream drawn animation revealing
The multiple I in us all. You were a great outsider who stood
To lick the Insiders’ smooth window. As they sipped

And sniffed at The Groucho, you were a more militant Marx
In the hall, which you will enter now I am sure, and where
Lenny Bruce chairs the meeting. There the unruly will gather,
Where you will all play for perfection. He will call you all
To Disorder.  Here on earth, Tone, we’ve dropped it,

So, for fuck’s sake, mate; take the ball.

Go well, son.



                                                 David Erdos 3/1/24




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