It's way too early to start penning the obituaries, but the recent sad news - confirmed in one case and rumoured in the other - of the health concerns of Billy Connolly and Sean Connery is another reminder of the transitory nature of the lives of all of us.
Though both men have their detractors - come on now, we're Scots, we don't really do hero worship - as far as I'm concerned both Billy and Big Tam are giants in the entertainment world and not at all bad representatives of Scottish manhood.
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Sean of course gets a hard time for being a Scottish patriot who'd do anything for Scotland except actually live here, preferring to spend his time on the golf courses of the Costa del Sol, (not to mention his dodgy conviction that a little light domestic violence is appropriate in certain circumstances) and Billy has never been forgiven by some for the heinous crime of being matey with the Royal Family.
In the general scheme of things and given the vast extent of their respective bodies of work, I personally think their so called crimes are relatively minor - in Billy's case at any rate. I've met Billy and Sean and both of them, in different ways, have genuine star quality.
Charismatic as he undoubtedly is though, Sean is an elderly fellow, a fact you'd wouldn't really appreciate in any of his more recent film roles. As a matter of fact, in one of his last on-screen appearances he even managed to romance Catherine Zeta Jones in a perfectly convincing manner, though maybe that was because Catherine, up until recently married to Michael Douglas, is particularly adept at snogging old codgers.
Sean is a great actor in my view, a traditional movie star the likes of which we rarely see anymore. Okay, like John Wayne, people say he only ever plays himself, but he does it so well that no matter if he's taking on the role of James Bond, an Irish Cop (The Untouchables - brilliant) a Russian submarine captain (The Hunt for Red October - even more brilliant) he always manages to imbue it with a power and presence that makes the fact he doesn't bother changing his accent completely irrelevant.
Billy isn't a bad actor either but it's as a comedian that he truly hits the heights, being the godfather of modern stand up with only a mere handful of equals - Bill Hicks and Richard Pryor the only two that come immediately to my mind.
I worked out recently that I've seen Billy in concert 17 times in all, starting with a folk gig he did at my school in Paisley back in the 1970s through to a one-man show in Melbourne early last year. Sometimes he's been better than at other times - I have to say that he wasn't on absolute top form in Melbourne - but he's still great, still funny and way, way better than any stand up of the modern generation I've ever seen - and I've seen a few.
Like half of the Scottish population I can still remember that famous appearance on Parkinson when he told the joke about the bloke burying his wife bum-up in the back yard so that he'd have somewhere to park his bike.
Now it's not really all that funny a gag - and let's face it, these days it would be seen as wildly politically incorrect - but what I recall about Billy then was his incredible self-assurance and seemingly genuine - and it really is genuine - charisma and charm.
What's more, back in those days, the Glasgow accent, the slightly gruff glottal stop we all know and love was never, ever heard on telly. Genuine Glaswegian was a rare thing, completely and utterly absent from the box due to the generally held establishment viewpoint that no one south of Motherwell would be able to understand it. Billy, almost single handedly, changed all that.
However, the main thing that both Billy and Sean have achieved - and I defy anyone to deny this - is the seemingly impossible task of making Scots men sexy. Be honest, prior to Sean's performance as James Bond - still the best - the Scots simply weren't rated as stud muffins. Noble and proud perhaps, steadfast and resourceful, but never, ever sexy.
Sean transformed that notion, even managing to be voted the sexiest man alive when he was in his mid- 70s, a magnificent effort you can hardly imagine Harry Lauder or old John Laurie from Dad's Army ever managing.
Billy too, is a major hit with the ladies, being windswept and interesting as well as funny, qualities which women purport to crave and always seem to include on their ideal wishlist.
As a Scotsman who has been known to travel the world looking for romance, I owe them a big favour, one I'm happy to acknowledge since, I have to say, it has occasionally worked to my advantage. (I have a hairline like Sean's and an accent like Billy's. And a bank balance like neither.)
Time marches on, however - both of them are no longer spring chickens, none us are - and though the health concerns are unquestionably serious, I'm hopeful that Billy and Sean still have a bit of life in them and will be around to inspire, entertain, represent and make us desirable to women around the world for some years to come.
All the best Billy, and gaun yersel' big Tam.
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