01.05.03 Well, following a pause of almost exactly three years' duration, I finally find myself obliged to break the radio silence. I only wish the circumstances could be happier.
Debbie (DA) Barham, the prodigious gag-line merchant, columnist, sometime Week Ending fixture and Loose Ends monologuist, sitcom author and fellow chronic non-updater she came up with the concept of the Continually Outdated Web Page Awards Testimonial (COWPAT), which was cheerfully presented to her own "Brand Spanking New" homepage died on Sunday 20 April at the ludicrous age of 26.
The press pieces which have so far commemorated her extraordinary life (she was submitting radio material at fourteen) necessarily contain some variant of the form "the name may not mean very much to you, but..." To most readers of this particular site, the name will be familiar: those who did not know her personally may still feel, as I did, a significant loss. I've been asked if I would mind making some acknowledgement here, and can't come up with any excuse for failing to do so.
The only piece of personal correspondence I have from her, dated early 1999, is in response to the original arrival of this site. The message is both appreciative and roundly insulting in a deeply charming fashion, questioning the existence of the chronicler's social life and shrewdly advising me to "switch off your radio set and do something less boring instead." But without the knowledge that there were fellow tapeheads in the world and Barham was another whose teenage years were largely ferric-filled this site wouldn't have been here in the first place. RIP.
Obituary by Bruce Hyman (Guardian, 30 April)
Libby Brooks, 'A rage drove her comedy' (Guardian G2, 30 April)
Victor Lewis Smith tribute (Daily Mirror, 26 April; scroll down)
added 02.05.03: Dave Green Tribute (NTK, 2 May)