Fun for Bathonians

Sir Roger Bannister
Gentlemanly athlete and physician who was the first person to run a mile in under four minutes, but was prouder of his achievements in neurology
The family moved to Bath, Somerset, when the war broke out. His daily walk to the City of Bath Boys’ School ended with a sprint up 150ft of steps, and he soon broke the school’s cross-country record.

City Boys’ is now Beechen Cliff. So those steps are those leading up from the station/Widcombe to Alexandria Park. Yep, they’ll get the lungs and legs working. I’ve walked them.


Gone ’round the other way ever since.

Good planning, not perfect, but good

The art of the lifetime savings hypothesis is that you should die around and about when you run out of money. Or, obviously, run out of money around and about when you die:

All Creatures Great and Small star Robert Hardy had only £165,000 in his will.

Good planning there.

A mixture of lifetime gifts to the children, a solid pension or annuity which dies with you, some cash of course for uncertainty. But we pass this way but once, enjoy it while we can but really do try not to run out.

Of course, that lifetime savings hypothesis, along with income smoothing over time, must be wrong for it is neoliberalism associated with Milton Friedman. It’s just remarkable, for something so obviously wrong, how often it works out that way.

Reports of my demise are sadly premature

A former Big Brother contestant has been left furious after the Channel 5 show announced her death and paid tribute.

A message posted on the Twitter account read: “So sad to hear that Rebekah Shelton, who appeared in #BBUK 2009 as Rodrigo Lopes, has passed away aged just 32. Our thoughts are with her friends and family, from everyone here at Big Brother UK.”

Dozens of news reports emerged on Friday morning that Rebekah Shelton had died “unexpectedly”.

Devastated fans remembered her as one of the “most loveable housemates” as they mourned her “death.”

However, it turns out the reports were false, and Ms Shelton posted a furious video on Twitter.

She said: “I’m not dead!!!!!! Please stop spreading this news!!!!! My lawyer is already working on this and this person who wants to spoil my happiness is going to pay for it!!!”.

Can’t recall who made the first comment…..

There’s a great truth here

Asked in later life if she was aware of the mesmerising power of her beauty as a 19-year-old, Keeler answered: “I don’t think young girls know they’re beautiful. Although I must admit there wasn’t much I couldn’t get or do if I wanted to then. I was a shy girl. I had rosy cheeks. I hated them. I blushed easily.”

Female beauty certainly eases the path through life. And it comes as something of a shock to many who were that this effect fades.

It explains a certain amount of the modern world that this is so…..

I loved these columns

However, it was the content of the column that may perhaps never be equalled. Each week, using the pen name of Daedalus, he wrote about an ingenious invention that was on the edge of plausibility, but was entertainingly fictional. It was not so much science fiction as technology fiction. As he put it: “Daedalus is ideally just beyond the edge of possibility, but only just. I can’t overtly break the laws of physics, and my arguments are always carefully buttressed by scientific facts . . . nonetheless, one should have the feeling that the argument has gone off the rails somewhere.”

The ones that struck were where some new discovery was slightly perverted into the foundation of a business. That just didn’t, really, make sense but did superficially.

Something of a pity that this appears to be where the professor of practice has got his economics from.

Oh, very clever

An alternative epitaph might have been delivered by Max the macaw. Blazer’s wife had taken the bird after their divorce and returned it to him a year later having taught it some choice phrases. Henceforth, as Blazer took business meetings at Trump Tower, the macaw would squawk: “You’re a dope.”

Pretty sure this isn’t quite right

Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt died with an estate in the UK worth just a few hundred thousand pounds.
The 68-year-old rocker’s estate is valued at a little over half a million pounds, but after debts and costs amounts to £230,753, according to his will.

Estates of artists (yes, I know, but, he was an artist) are a bit more complicated. His performance royalties (ie, recording) will continue to come in for some time. Songwriting for another 70 years. I don’t think “Whatever You Want” is going to survive quite in the same manner that, say, Nessun Dorma has but I’d still expect it to get another couple of decades play on the radio. And such royalties do add up. One play on a BBC station would gross Parfitt’s estate perhaps £30 (Andy Brown getting another such and that number’s a bit of a guess from memory) before whatever deal there is with the music publisher.

He didn’t write that many songs, true, but just that one alone would, I would think at least, provide a useful income. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if there’s a thousand plays a year on UK radio, all paying needle time to the writers.

We have a number of tax specialists around here. How are such future earnings from an estate valued for probate purposes?

Well, not so much really

From the Times obituary of Captain Crawford:

Under Crawford, Unseen launched 18 torpedo attacks, yielding 15 hits and 11 successes. She also survived 199 depth charges — no wonder the consumption of rum over 257 days at sea during 11 combat patrols was seven gallons, seven pints and six tots per man.

Well, not so much really. Standard rum issue was one eighth of a pint per man per day. So the rum issue there was in fact two issues a day, thereabouts, allowing for the occasional Temperance declared.

Not low, no, but by the standards of the time (there was no other booze on a submarine of course) not all that high either.

The England of old

The Normans’ family business was a problem early on when the young Barry attended the public school Hurstpierpoint College. The school did not accept the sons of tradespeople, and there was a lengthy debate over whether film editing was a trade. Norman later moved to Highgate School, which had no such qualms.

Perhaps trivial but there are good reasons why I’m not a conservative.

And this isn’t a bad thing to have someone say about you, this last line:

PERSONAL FOOTNOTE: Much as I usually agreed with him, Barry didn’t always get it right. Early in his TV career he reviewed, rather negatively, a film called That’ll Be The Day (starring David Essex) which was my first foray into screenwriting. A big admirer of Film ’73, I was devastated. It was the film’s first review and I was in despair.
His judgment wasn’t shared by other critics, so when asked by a friend what I thought of the reviews, I said: ‘Well, everyone seemed to like it apart from that **** Barry Norman’, using the rudest word I knew.
A few weeks later I was at a party when Barry, whom I’d never met, approached and introduced himself, smiling broadly. ‘Hello, Ray. I’m that **** Barry Norman.’
We both had to laugh, and I drove him to catch his train that night. We would remain good friends whenever we met over the succeeding decades.
Because, he really was a lovely man.

A rather more relaxed attitude back then

He also complained that he had not been insured for the dangerous stunts he performed over the years. Baxter denied this, saying: “They were insured. That is a myth. Also, we gave them the absolute top whack we could.” That said, in the early days of health and safety a corporate risk assessment for the BBC was understood to read simply: “John may die.”

Not bad, not bad

At his 90th birthday party Tempest slid down the bannisters for a final time, showing his grandchildren how it should be done.

Although perhaps something for us all to remember when talking about fuel poverty:

Henry Tempest was living in a nondescript 1960s house in Oxfordshire when he unexpectedly inherited Broughton Hall, an unheated, 97-room, grade I listed pile near Skipton, in North Yorkshire. It had a leaking roof, a heap of debt and death duties of 65 per cent were due. He had to flog some of the family silver, paintings, books and even the local pub, the Tempest Arms, to keep his head above water.

Then, rather than taking the easy way out and selling up, Tempest set about turning the estate, which had been in the family since 1097, into a success, drawing on his experience of creating a farm from scratch in Africa. He got the family out of farming, instead letting the 2,700 acres for grazing. He converted many of the estate’s outbuildings into a business park, which is now home to dozens of companies employing about 600 people.

The idea that the inside of a house should be a generally warm area is a very modern one indeed.


In Heidelberg he began an affair with a woman married to an economics professor. Rather than confront him, the professor invited Eugster to a faculty party and introduced him to his most attractive student.

The strategy worked; the man’s marriage recovered and Eugster wed the student, Edda, in 1954. The union produced two children, Andre, an ophthalmologist, and Christian, a civil servant, who live in Switzerland and survive him.

The Times have done Helen right here

Throughout her adult life Helen Szamuely was known and feared for the sharpness of her tongue. It was said that those who engaged her in debate over the European Union — she was a founding member of what became Ukip — would come away with their egos in slices.

It’s a good obit. One thing does surprise me though:

She was also writing for History Today, contributing chapters for books, writing articles for various think tanks and blogging prolifically. Her debut with the latter was in April 2004 on Richard North’s blog EU Referendum. Five years later she decided to go it alone and began running her own blog. She was as cutting online as she was in person and would tear her victim’s virtual self apart.

“I notice you have no arguments just personal invective,” she wrote to one commenter. “I am proud of my enemies and you are an excellent addition to the group. I shan’t bother to reply to you again but be assured your self-satisfied silliness is appreciated.”

She was always sweetness and light to me. I assume that’s because I never said anything interesting……