Westminster Abbey is beautiful and at the same time overwhelming. The fact that so much history is contained and has been virtually created by this structure is amazing. As much a graveyard as it is a church there are massive, expensive memorials to remember those who have died. Kings and Queens, poets and politicians rest in the confines of the Abbey in hopes they will find eternal recognition for their earthly fame.
So today when Sandi and I visited Westminster Abbey on my day off, I fondly remembered someone who passed on recently. He is not buried here nor is he British. He was a writer somewhat famous in the United States but certainly not the household name of Charles Dickens. I remembered my friend Pat McCormick. In case the name doesn't ring a bell, Pat wrote for the Tonight Show as well as other shows and was one of the funniest people in the world. He had a twisted comic mind. He is best remembered by those who don't know him as the 6' 8" man in the white suite partnered with Paul Williams in the Smokey and the Bandit movies. I didn't know him well, but enough to be around him to have personal knowledge of his incredibly wicked wit. This is a story I heard at his memorial service at the Writers Guild Theatre in Los Angeles three years ago.
Pat was an over-powering man not only in size at 6'8" but he could also use his humor as a weapon. He was a mischievous red-haired Irishman who could have been a leprechaun on steroids. He made a lot of money working as a writer and was known to spend it on drinks and Cuban cigars. He was known for one other thing. Pat would drop his pants for any reason for humor or just to say he did.
On a trip to London with a friend, heading to the airport after spending most of their time in Pubs, Pat said to his friend,
"Here we are in London. What would my friends say back in LA if I had been in London and I didn't drop my pants on the tomb of Alfred Lord Tennyson." The friend said, "You're right they would never understand."
"Turn the cab around, my good man." He said, "Take us to Westminster Abbey."
Pat and his friend arrive at Westminster. They asked the cab to wait. Pat lit a cigar and headed to poets corner. He found Alfred Lord Tennyson's grave, dropped his pants and stood for a moment to reflect. Suddenly, a guard ran up to Pat and said, "Sir, Sir, there is no smoking in Westminster Abbey."
Here is to you Pat. You were remembered as I stood on Alfred Lord Tennyson's grave today. Hope you are making Tennyson laugh at this very moment.
As you were,