Postcards from Hampstead comedian Peter Cook to ‘minister of confusion’ Rainbow George made public for first time
Postcards offering a glimpse into the colourful world of legendary comedian Peter Cook have been made public for the first time ahead of the 20th anniversary of his death.
The influential satirist sent a handful of cards over the course of a decade to self-proclaimed Hampstead village idiot “Rainbow” George Weiss – his close neighbour in Perrin’s Walk, Hampstead.
The short, witty messages – often accompanied by whimsical doodles – give a rare insight into Mr Cook’s “off-duty” humour.
Tomorrow (Friday) marks the 20th anniversary of the comedian’s death at the Royal Free Hospital of severe liver damage, aged 57.
“His writing was terrible and you can scarcely read some of them,” said Mr Weiss, 74, now of Lanchester Road, Highgate.
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“They reveal his sense of fun, and his amusement.”
Several of the cards are addressed to Mr Weiss as the “Minister of Confusion” of the comic’s fictional What Party, a political movement invented under the guise of his EL Wisty character.
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Mr Cook would, in turn, sign off as “The Wizard of What”.
Almost all the cards were sent by Mr Cook while on one of his many golfing holidays.
One read: “Please ignore this card,” while another greeted: “Happy Birthday, Minister. Yours, The Wizard of What.”
Mr Weiss said his favourite was a card sent from Murcia, which read: “Re this: please see to that. Suggest you act on this later rather than sooner”.
The pair struck up their unlikely friendship in the mid-1970s when Mr Cook moved into Perrin’s Walk, next door to where Mr Weiss squatted in a £700,000 house.
The neighbours would spend hundreds of hours in each other’s living rooms talking of “sports, gambling and everything,” according to Mr Weiss.
He said: “The postcards mean a lot to me. They are memories of our friendship.
“I really feel that his support has been with me for the last 20 years,” Mr Weiss added. “Peter has been ever-present in my mind and the What Party has been ever-present in my mind.”
Mr Weiss announced this week that he plans to resurrect the What Party in time for the looming general election in May to mark the 20th anniversary of Mr Cook’s death.
The pensioner hopes to persuade comedian Russell Brand to become its first president.
The radical party would be the latest in a long line of hapless political ventures for Mr Weiss, who once sat for 12 different seats in one election.