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Cliff stays on track of mystery scribbler

By Eddie McIlwaine

Sir Cliff Richard has been back in Belfast yet again, but is still no nearer to tracking down the journalist who wrote the tribute words Cliff wants to have etched on his headstone.

The morning after his 1984 concert in the King's Hall the veteran favourite was reading an unsigned review of the show at breakfast in his hotel.

And Cliff (right) was moved and impressed by this declaration from the anonymous reviewer all those years ago:

'God and rock 'n' roll go well together in the hands of someone who loves them both.'

It was a mighty compliment to the singer and Cliff is still anxious to find out who the reviewer was.

But he had no luck in solving the mystery on his latest appearance at the Odyssey.

"I've no plans to depart this mortal coil in the near future," he assures me, "but when I do go those profound words will be the epitaph on my gravestone.

"In the meantime, I'd like to meet the man or woman who actually wrote them."

"I'll keep on performing until I drop," he declares today. "I'm in good shape and I enjoyed this latest tour which included Belfast.

"And I'll tell you this – I've never forgotten those words I picked up in that Belfast newspaper quite a few years ago.

"I'm not being morbid but I have already made arrangements for them to be on my grave.

"I want to be remembered as a rock 'n' roller and a believer."

So who did write those words that delighted Cliff Richard so much?

I haven't a clue.

However, I've a sneaking feel they were written by a female.

Only a woman would think up a line like that.

Mind you, I wish it had been me.

Sophie's the choice for wit

Actress Sophie Harkness brings a touch of glamour to a new comedy series going out on BBC Radio Ulster every Saturday at noon.

The show follows the trials of Stormont civil servants – the number twos – as they attempt to negotiate their way around the words and actions of their ministers – the number ones.

The series is landed with the unfortunate title Number 2s but will get over it with original plot lines and great laughs.

Sophie plays number twos Sinead in the series created by the Hole in the Wall Gang whose under pressure number twos are Ricky (Michael Condron) and Sinead (Sophie).

Ian Beattie appears as a minister and Marty Maguire plays another number one.

Magical music moment

A reader calls in to tell me he doesn't believe that legendary Bob Dylan played Dundonald Ice Bowl once upon a time.

Well dear reader, I can confirm that Dylan (right) did perform on a cramped stage at this very place. The date was February 6, 1991 and I was there at an Aiken promotion with the tickets costing £18.75 and with Van Morrison making a guest appearance. Actually I was in the wings at the gig and at one stage Dylan, as he passed by during one of his songs, handed me a piece of music, obviously wanting me to hold the paper which was getting in his way.

Bob took possession of his music again the moment he stopped singing and I never got a chance to see the title of the piece.

Christmas message - Carnegie Hall milestone for Keith

Not only is hymnwriter Keith Getty putting on an Irish Christmas concert in New York's Carnegie Hall on December 17, he is also celebrating his 40th birthday in the venue.

Lisburn-born Keith, father of two with wife Kristyn, will be accompanied by a 200-strong choir and step dancers.

"This is our Carnegie debut,"he explains. "The birthday is a bonus."

Keith and Kristyn who have been singing Gospel across the USA to packed audiences for years will be home in the summer on holiday.

Blitz on board games

Who invented Ludo? It isn't really a daft question. A friend of mine, Jim Magill, is researching board games and thinks Ludo is king.

"I've heard stories of how Ludo kept people happy in the air raid shelters during the wartime Blitz on Belfast," he says. "So Ludo has a fascinating history. Especially as I'm told that the original game was developed in Germany.

"I can just imagine the folk down in the shelters shaking the dice and moving the markers while the bombers fell."

If you have any info about ludo or snakes and ladders or any other traditional board games get in touch.

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