Jim Hughes, the last person known to be able to accurately impersonate a 1970s Trimphone, has died at a nursing home in Cheshunt.
‘It was a big part of his life,’ said Jim’s nephew, Philip Hughes. ‘I can remember us all being round there on a Sunday afternoon watching the wrestling on ITV, and suddenly from behind his newspaper, he’d start warbling.
‘My aunt would jump up from her chair and dash into the hall. She’d sit down at the telephone table, pick up the phone, and say in her poshest voice, “Bishop’s Stortford 7849, who’s speaking please? Deirdre, is that you love? Speak to me, pet.”
‘Well, we would all just fall about laughing, and she’d be fuming, because there’d be no-one there. It was just my uncle playing the fool. You see, she had a daughter who had gone missing some years ago, and whenever the phone rang, I rather think she hoped it might be her.’
This went on for a good ten years, until she left him for Derek Davidson, who lived three doors down and couldn’t impersonate anything much, other than pretending to be a normal human being. Turns out he’d be keeping Deirdre in a specially constructed soundproof cellar for almost twenty years. My aunt and her daughter were reunited and the police let Derek off with a caution. We were pleased for her, obviously.’
Mr Hughes became the last Trimphone impersonator after the death of Mr Haji Nakajima, from Tokyo, in 2009, aged 83. Mr Nakajima was an incessant Trimphone mimic, continuing to impress friends and family even after his wife committed suicide in 1976.
Mr Hughes’ death was announced by nursing staff at the home. It is believed he died of heart failure, although the local coroner has asked for an investigation into traces of adhesive tape that were discovered around the mouth of the deceased.
He will be laid to rest in a two-tone avocado coffin made of ABS plastic, donated by BT in his memory. The family have been told to expect the coffin some time between 8am and 8pm on the day of the funeral.