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And Finally

Stories which have appeared in the news

2003-07-09-spike.jpg

Saga of Spike Milligan's grave turns into farce



By David Sapsted



A family disagreement that left Spike Milligan's grave

unmarked for a year has degenerated into the sort of farce that only a Goon could find funny.



A month ago, the grave where the 83-year-old was buried in March last year lacked a headstone and was notable only as an unkempt patch of rough grass.



James Milligan - the comedian's son from his eight- year relationship with Margaret Maughan - was appalled. Two weeks ago he and his mother went to St Thomas's church in Winchelsea, East Sussex, and placed an 18in angel on a plinth as a temporary headstone.



By last week, though, the angel had disappeared and a plain wooden cross "more fitting for a pauper than the clown prince of comedy", as a local newspaper observed, was in its place. It bore one word:



"Spike".



But yesterday the cross had mysteriously gone and the angel had been restored. A wicker basket of fresh plants had joined three pots of wilting flowers on the grave, bearing a card that read: "Happy Easter, Dad. Lots of love from your children Laura, Sean, Sile, Jane and Grandchildren."



A local outside the 13th century church said: "God knows what's going on. Spike may be having a chuckle about it all from on high but you'd expect one of our greatest comedians to be treated a bit better than this."



James Milligan, a 26-year-old events organiser, said: "I went down with my mum and I was shocked when I saw it. It was the roughest, most unkempt grave you could imagine. There was nothing there apart from a patch of earth."



He added: "We took a stone angel down and put that there. I'm sure that they will probably get rid of it, but I felt it was a fitting memorial. I spoke to the vicar to see if any arrangements had been made for a headstone, and there hadn't been.



"But two days after we went down Shelagh [Milligan's third wife] put in her own application. I don't want to tread on anyone's toes. I just want Spike to be given the dignity he deserves."



Mr Milligan, from west London, said that he knew nothing of the wooden cross. He said: "Perhaps it was a fan who had heard about the situation and wanted to do something about it."



Sources close to the family say that Mrs Milligan, 58, and the comic's children from previous marriages have been divided over his estate and, particularly, the fate of the large house at Udimore, near Rye, that Milligan bought for its stunning Channel views. The family has refused to comment.



Before his death, Milligan joked that he wanted his headstone engraved with the words: "I told you I was ill."



James Milligan has claimed that he was "frozen out" by the family after his father's death in February last year and was not invited to the funeral in Rye or the burial in Winchelsea.



When he finally located the churchyard and placed a wreath on his father's grave, a man claiming to be "a family friend" removed it, he said.



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SPIKE MILLIGAN 'HAD TWO LOVE CHILDREN'



Legendary comedian SPIKE MILLIGAN had at least two love children by separate mistresses, according to new book SPIKE MILLIGAN: THE BIOGRAPHY.



Author HUMPHREY CARPENTER says the tots were born in the mid-'70s while Spike - who passed away last year (02) aged 83 - was married to second wife PADDY.



MARGARET MAUGHAN, the mother of 26-year-old JAMES, says that despite keeping the child secret, funnyman Spike paid for his upkeep and education.



Margaret, who met Spike in 1967, says, "We were lovers, but in a way we were more soulmates. It was a very precious relationship."



The book claims the comedian had another child, ROMANY, at around the same time with ROBERTA WATT, and that he had a third mistress, a television journalist.

LIFE OF BRIAN star Spike was wed three times before his death from liver disease in February 2002.

08/07/2003 17:05

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Going, going, Goon!

A guitar that George Harrison gave to Spike Milligan is expected to raise up to £25,000 at auction next week.

George, who was good friends with Spike was at Spike's house one day and
noticied that he was having trouble playing his guitars because the action
was too high. George then had apparently two custom guitars made for Spike
with low action, to make it easier for Spike to play.

A letter of authentication from Jamie Crompton of Fender Musical Instruments Europe says: "This guitar was delivered from Fender Europe to legendary Beatles guitarist George Harrison, he personalised the instrument and had it set up to his specification.

"Harrison gave the guitar to the genius comedian, poet, author and musician Spike Milligan who passed the instrument on to session guitarist Troy Tempest."

The guitar, right, is being auctioned by Cooper Owen at the Hard Rock Café, London, on November 20.

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mike@spikemilligan.co.uk