John Thaw’s irony

Having recently gotten hooked on the British television series Inspector Morse, I witnessed the last couple of episodes with a heavy heart. John Thaw, who played Morse for its multi-season run, ultimately dies from a heart attack. It is the penultimate episode to which irony attaches.

The decided curmudgeon and avatar of all things sublime and urbane ultimately succumbs to a lifetime of consuming too much beer. He also declaimed on more than one occasion that he detested physical exercise. In the next-to-last episode, he collapses then is rushed to hospital, as the Brits say. He has high blood pressure and a peptic ulcer. Take it easy, the doctors admonish, and refrain from alcohol, a challenge that Morse cannot meet.

In hospital for a series of tests he is administered an endoscopy, which reveals the ulcer. Here is the ironic part. John Thaw would die two years after the series’ finale of esophageal cancer, a disease that would have been detected via a real endoscopy.