Alex Higgins: The People's Champion was aired on BBC2 last night, an hour-long documentary on the mercurial snooker player and his extraordinary life and eventual downfall.
As a player he was capable of genius, a crowd-pleaser with a huge following that included me. The same year he won the World Snooker Championship for a second time in 1982, he also released a pop single based on the number 147 - the maximum break in snooker.
I was more into Joy Division at the time, so 147: That's My Idea Of Heaven didn't get played on my record player very often even though I had a pile of them given to me by Alex himself.
I had left art college a year before and had spent much of the next ten months putting together a portfolio of illustrations in the hope of finding some work. One of the paintings was of Alex Higgins, in typical pose, dashing around a snooker table. I had a number of large prints made up and was keen for Alex to have one. I took a print with me when I went with some friends to watch him play Eddie Charlton at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon.
I luckily bumped into his manager at the front of the auditorium and, because he liked the print, he suggested I give it to Alex personally.
So, I went backstage as the great man was preparing for the match. He was really pleased with the picture and it was then he gave me some copies of the single. We spoke for a while and then 15 minutes later Alex Higgins was playing electrifying snooker in front of an appreciative crowd.
So, what has that got to do with birds? Well nothing at all really, apart from the fact that after Holmethorpe birder Graham James texted me this afternoon, I went to Spynes Mere on my local patch and a Ruff was feeding close by some Lapwings. It also took me up to 147 for my Surrey list this year.
I was going to put a copy of the picture on this post, but after a rummage through my files I still haven't found one. Once I do, I'll put it up on the blog. In the meantime, here's another, albeit irrelevant, illustration completed during that period. I'm considering taking it up again and putting together a few bird drawings.