The funeral of Clarissa Dickson Wright: cook, television personality, countryside campaigner and, at the time, the youngest woman ever to be called to the Bar, was held in Edinburgh this afternoon. Best known for her eccentric and amusing Two Fat Ladies cookery programme with Jennifer Paterson, her life also encompassed law, alcoholism (and subsequent recovery), and appearances on a variety of television shows, including One Man and His Dog and Clarissa and the Countryman.
She was famed for her outspoken and (apparently) ‘un-PC’ views on the countryside and hunting, and her admirable penchant for speaking her mind. But Clarissa is best explained in her own words. So in her memory, here are my favourite quotes of hers. Of course, these are just mine; if you think I’ve missed any off the list, please do let me know below.
On the title of Two Fat Ladies:
‘People used to say, don’t you object to the title? And I said, well there are two of us. I had problems with ‘ladies’ because it sounds like a public convenience. But which bit do you object to? Are you saying I’m thin?’
On the RSPCA:
The RSPCA: ‘leaves a bitter taste in the mouth…They have got plenty of money. I think that it would do them no harm if people stopped donating and told them why they had stopped to see if they changed their threatening policies. Now they spend money… prosecuting hunts, prosecuting people who they think are trapping foxes, people who are keeping out rabbits. They are not concentrating on what they should be doing, on what they do well.’
‘Supermarkets are the gates of hell.’
On turning down an offer to front a supermarket campaign:
‘I used to say that all I had left in life was my integrity and my cleavage. Now it’s just my integrity.’
On threats from animal rights campaigners:
‘We have all got to die sometime. If you don’t stand up, what’s that quote: “For evil to prevail it only takes honest men to do nothing”. A lot of people don’t stand up for principles now. I believe we should fight for what we believe in. If you don’t, it’s cowardice. If I put my life at risk, so what?’
‘The best way to stop a rare breed pig from dying is to eat it.’
‘Bankruptcy is like losing your virginity – it doesn’t hurt the next time.’
‘I would rather eat a cream cake than take Prozac. The only thing that stimulates the serotonin in the body is animal fat. I’m quite sure that the increase in anti-depressants is related to our decrease in eating animal fat.’
And, of course, she also had firm views on former Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Indeed, in an interview with our very own Mary Wakefield, she revealed just why fellow members of the Bar referred to Tony Blair as ‘Miranda’:
‘We used to call him Miranda.’ Because he was wet? ‘No, no, he wasn’t called Miranda because he was wet, ducky!’ Clarissa guffaws impatiently. ‘Remember that scene in The Tempest when Miranda sees the sailors? Well then. He got on conspicuously well with all the male junior clerks. Everybody knew it.’ But he’s married now, I say. ‘So are a lot of people.’
And as Clarissa said when she appeared on Desert Island Discs: ‘I actually take quite considerable risks with myself and with my career, and I think this sums up the philosophy of my life.’ So here is Clarissa’s life philosophy: Kenny Roger’s The Gambler.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.