THE PAST TWO YEARS.
On Thursday 16th June 2016 the Crown Prosecution Service announced that they had dismissed the sexual allegations case that had been brought against Sir Cliff Richard by the South Yorkshire Police. Cliff fans around the world celebrated this news and Sir Cliff himself was relieved that after almost two years of torment because of those absurd, vile and false allegations he could get on with his life. Sir Cliff has openly admitted the hell that he has been through over this time physically and mentally. We have seen and heard his personal account of this awful ordeal. He has had tremendous support from his family, friends and fans who never doubted him for one moment. So here at ‘Cliff As If’ we join with all the Cliff fans around the world in raising a glass to our hero and out loud we can Sing a Song of Freedom. I am certain there will be more to come from this like Sir Cliff championing the cause to help change laws about this type of thing and writs against those who have caused him so much heart ache. But for now we are pleased that this dreadful chapter is over and Sir Cliff can get back to doing what he does best.
As for ‘Cliff As If’ these past almost two years have been quite an ordeal too. Nowhere near what Sir Cliff has been through of course, nevertheless an ordeal of uncomfortable proportions. When the news broke in August 2014 I was going about my business preparing for the forthcoming weekend Cliff tribute shows. I received a text message asking if I’d seen the news about Cliff? I quickly went online to see the headline news about his home being raided and I couldn’t believe what was happening. I dropped everything and rushed down to the beach where Claire and Jude were with some friends having a picnic. I was shaking like a leaf. As soon as Claire spotted me she knew something was wrong so I broke the news to her. We returned home to see the news of the raid and the allegations were hitting the headlines on TV, radio and social media. I felt very sick inside for Cliff yes, but also for me as I realised that this was soon going to hit home. It didn’t take long for the telephone to start buzzing. I can’t recall just how many people called but each one found me at a loss for words. I recall getting a call from a newspaper, although the man on the other end of the phone didn’t say where he was from until I asked him. On answering the call a voice said, “are you worried about your career because of what’s happened to Cliff Richard?” I asked, “who is this?” He replied with his name and said he was from the Daily Sport. I cut him off immediately only to find out that the man who called me quoted my silence on Twitter later that day saying, “I was worried about my career” (his words not mine). His tweet started off a barrage of abusive texts from all sorts of people I’d never heard of. It hardly really stopped. Even up until the few days before the news from the CPS I was still getting abusive messages. There have been countless other ways that some people have been rude towards me. One of the worst moments was when I was walking down a street in Cromer with my then 12 year old daughter. A man shouted across the street, “Oi Cliff, see you’ve got another kid with you to molest.” The initial shock of it all was hard to take and I began to take the news of Cliff’s allegations personally. Having been told for almost 30 years that I resemble Cliff Richard so much I reckoned that it was inevitable that I was going to suffer a bit too now. What made this even more difficult were the times I had calls and emails canceling my appearances as a Cliff tribute because some found it inappropriate at the time. Ultimately my bookings suffered somewhat, they were down a whopping 50% on the same period the previous year. So not only was my personal life taking a knock but also my capacity to earn my keep. I had invested my whole career into ‘Cliff As If’ and up until that dreaded news broke everything was going well. Suddenly it felt as if my world was falling apart and I was helpless to do anything. I considered other performing options like just going out as Will Chandler or maybe seeing if I could do a tribute to someone else. I even thought about giving up completely such was the state of mind I’d got into. Every rude comment or dig was like being stabbed. Of course I did continue to do Cliff tribute shows and the support at them was good. It always seemed though that there were some who’d try to spoil it with snide remarks about Cliff and every time I managed to come back at them with a sarcastic retort, which it is not like me but I got so churned up inside that the only release was to say something back. I put on a brave face but inside I was breaking up.
So as you can imagine the news of Cliff’s case being dropped was the best ever that I could have heard. I was and still am overjoyed. Suddenly all those snide remarks have dried up and I don’t feel down anymore. I have a new dynamic to my shows and I’m expecting ‘Cliff As If’ to carry on from where it left off two years ago. I feel liberated and full of confidence once again.
There have been many who have stood by and supported me too. Although I never said it I somehow believe that those who knew me could feel my distress. My immediate family have helped me so much. Especially Claire who saw my tears when cancellations came through and heard the vileness that was unjustly aimed at me. Thanks to for the agents. clubs, and general public that booked me regardless, never believing the allegations against Sir Cliff and therefore giving me opportunities to perform.
Once again, I know that any discomfort I may have experienced has been nothing compared to Sir Cliff Richard and I am in no way trying to compare my situation with his. However, I felt I owed this story to the many that not only follow ‘Cliff As If’ but have also continued to send me messages of hope during the dark times.
It’s onward and upward for us all now. I for one can’t wait for Cliff’s next UK tour whenever it may be.