my special animation blog, Very Strange Things: Journey of An Animated Series, Keith Matthews was the manager of the Oxfam charity bookstore I work at, and was a vastly talented actor, musician, theatre director, and writer in various mediums. He performed in many shows over 45 years, as well as being an expert on the UK radio game show Just a Minute (on which he contributed to two published books as a consultant with his almost encyclopedic knowledge). In the midst of all this and acting as a carer for his frail mother, he found the time to write a ridiculously large number of plays, poems, short stories and novel length works. He was a friendly, welcoming and trusting man who always had your back and would help you anyway he can. Be it practical advice or even cracking a joke, Keith could work wonders and even meeting the likes of Peter O'Toole, Kenneth Williams and Paul Merton didn't go to his head.
Sadly, Keith passed away at the still youthful and lively age of 55 in June of last year. It was a shock to all of us, me not just because he had been assisting my animation project by directing an audio adaptation of the pilot for use as an animatic track, but because he and I had been discussing our own projects and my anxieties over the future, now that I had left University. He had just finished helping out on the most recent Just A Minute book, and his spirits were never higher. As his coffin passed into the incinerator, accompanied to the tune of Somewhere Over The Rainbow from his favourite film, I thought that was the end of it. Keith's amazing talents and gifts would be remembered by a select few, but ultimately be forgotten to history.
But then, life had other plans: during the twilight of last year, his close friend and fellow thespian Richard Taylor managed to compile Keith's various manuscripts and through Amazon's CreateSpace, finally got Keith's life works published in a series of volumes. Click on the link to go to the special Amazon UK page which lists the following:
- Poems, Stories and Song Lyrics: A collection of just that, including the very touching Real Life Dreams, which was read at his funeral.
- Fiction and Fact: 11 Short Stories and Novelettes: another self-explanatory collection, offering a mixtures of thinkers, shockers and knee slappers.
- All Three Volumes of S.O.S (Save Our Souls): Probably Keith's pride and joy, S.O.S is a semi-autobiographical sitcom series of plays that tells of the hijinks at a charity store. He had performed it before, many years back with a full cast at the Oxfam, and had even gotten talking to a producer at BBC Radio (3, if memory serves) about going one step further. Needlessly to say, the audience lapped it up and Keith took great pleasure in the series' power to make them laugh.
- Abel Diaz,
writer and friend.