Matthew Steeples leaves a tribute to Michael Winner
As I’ve said before, Michael Winner (30th October 1935 – 21st January 2013) was like Marmite. He was loved and loathed in equal measure. Restaurants put up signs announcing “This restaurant is a Michael Winner free zone” after banning him for the most obnoxious and sometimes truly unfair reviews but his fans celebrated him in equal measure.
Winner is best known both for his Death Wish films and as a restaurant critic and I would suggest that the world is a poorer place for his passing. Yes, he was a preposterous buffoon with a capability to offend but surprisingly he also often stood for all that was right and decent.
He took the view that “an OBE is what you get if you clean the toilets well at King’s Cross station” and once told Richard Littlejohn that he was an “arsehole”. Given my views on some of the names that have recently been honoured and thoughts on Littlejohn’s bile, I would suggest that shows someone who was actually quite reasonable. This is echoed further in his comment about Gordon Ramsay, whom he described as someone who suffers from “verbal diarrhoea”.
Michael Winner was a man who lived life to the full and in the end that was what took its toll. He suffered with a bacterial infection in Barbados after eating oysters and got food poisoning from eating steak tartare for four days in a row.
Towards the end, after doctors gave him just two years to live, Winner accepted his end was nigh and here we conclude with the last paragraph of his final column for The Sunday Times:
“Gstaad is packed with famous names, all fighting not to be in this column. I totally understand. It’s a miracle they speak to me. If it were known that they associated with me, they’d be barred from right-thinking society. Tell you about it later. Now I need a rest.”
He will be missed.
His Sunday Times restaurant column was the first thing I read, just to get the day started with a smile. He was all the things you say but a good friend to those in need.