I Told You I Was Ill

So, how would you like to be remembered? What words of wisdom – or wit – will pass your lips as you breathe your last?

SpikeYou’d think that writers, being people who work with words all the time, would have  the best last lines but it ain’t necessarily so.

Musicians, criminals, politicians – you name it – all kinds of people have had their approach to departing this world go down in history. And they show considerable range:

American boxer Max Baer’s final utterance could suggest fear or excitement: “Oh God! Here I go.”

By contrast, Winston Churchill’s last words are said to have been: “I’m so bored with it all.”

For a selflessly practical approach, Lewis Carroll went out with: “Take away those pillows. I shall need them no more.”

Unfortunately for some, their last words prove to be ones they might have regretted. Such as John Sedgwick, an American Civil War general, who – shortly before being killed by a sniper – announced: “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.”

However, one of the pithiest responses to the Grim Reaper’s approach came from Alexander Graham Bell who just said: “No.”

Although not last words as such, I’ve always liked the epitaph on Spike Milligan’s gravestone, which reads: “I told you I was ill.”

It’s a bit of a morbid subject – hopefully none of us will have to worry about how we’re remembered for a while yet – but this post was prompted by a short quiz about famous last words on the BBC’s website.

The quiz was written in response to the last words of Irish poet Seamus Heaney who died very recently. I think I scored four out of seven. See if you can do better – click here.

I’m not sure what my last words would be. Probably, something along the lines of: “I can’t go yet, I’ve got a book to finish.”

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3 responses to “I Told You I Was Ill”

  1. Sharon Bonin-Pratt says :

    My last words would have to be, “Hold on a minute, there’s only one of me.”

  2. Jill Weatherholt says :

    Okay, now it’s my time to procrastinate. 🙂 Interesting post, Huw. My last words would probably be, “I think you’ve got the wrong Jill.” Enjoy your weekend!

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