Small world

Rodham tested that friendship on Prescott’s behalf in 1997, when he arranged a White House meeting for Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow, to help to smooth the way for a plan to introduce “smart” credit and debit cards to Russia. “I just called the Russia desk at the White House, as anybody in this country can do,” said Rodham, although it is possible that being the first lady’s brother helped to get the call put through to the right person. Luzhkov’s name rang alarm bells in the Clinton entourage. He had been accused of having links to Russian mobsters and had been involved in a dispute with an American businessman who was subsequently found murdered in Moscow.

Murdered is the wrong word there. Assassinated.

Knew the bloke, vaguely. But he and his assassin (not the shooter, the guy who paid at least by all sensible accounts) were customers.

There was a joint venture which owned a hotel and there was an argument over who really, really owned it. The Russian courts said the local, the arbitration one in Stockholm the American. A terminal solution was found….. not particularly Luzhkov involved, even as he would clearly and obviously known the shooter and probably done business in other realms with him.

Just a little point about the NHS

It was while playing tennis that he first noticed signs of the cancer that would kill him. He remained stoically cheerful throughout the nine weeks of his illness.

The NHS target for cancer treatment – from GP first thinking there might be something there to starting whatever chemo or radiation or whatever – is 62 days.

8.85 weeks.

Just an interesting number.

Coincidence? I think not

Baron Clement von Franckenstein obituary


In this, he was helped by a lifetime’s experience of introducing himself by that name. Family legend, which he was happy to burnish, had it that Mary Shelley had borrowed it, with a slight amendment, for her book after meeting an ancestor of von Franckenstein’s, who was consul in Geneva when she was there.


Before turning to acting

Rightie ho

Franckenstein’s first role on camera, improbably, was as an extra in Mel Brooks’s spoof Young Frankenstein (1974).


Sir Pterry was right. The million to one shot, it’s a certainty, isn’t it?

This doesn’t sound like little clue

By the 1970s he was a self-employed painter-decorator in London, but had little clue what he was doing. On one occasion he was redecorating a large house in Clapham where the owner wanted a downstairs lavatory painted in a terracotta colour. Having run out of money, Arthur whitewashed the walls, installed an orange lightbulb and after dark showed off his handiwork to the owner, disappearing before daylight revealed the truth.

That sounds very clued in indeed actually.


Warner perceived Day as the girl next door with a freckled face and a golden smile who was virginal and eager to please (the two not being mutually exclusive in those days),

Rather fnarr, fnarr for an obituary.

This is rather what Princes and the like are for

First, there was a war to be won and his country needed liberating. Before he saw action, however, his commanding officer was kind enough to call on his mother, the Grand Duchess Charlotte, who was in exile in London. She is said to have remarked: “Well if he gets killed that will be that, but please do not allow him to be taken prisoner.”

He landed in Normandy on June 23, 1944, and took part in Operation Goodwood, intended to clear the ground for the taking of the communications centre of Caen, which fell on July 20. He then advanced into Belgium, reaching Brussels on September 3.

General George Patton, commanding the US Third Army, was about to enter Luxembourg, but on hearing that the crown prince was near by, he arranged for him to take part. On September 10, 1944, “John Luxembourg” crossed into the country at Rodange, the spot where his family had fled the Nazi invasion more than four years earlier. He later joined Patton in the first Jeep to enter Luxembourg city.

Returning to his unit, he was involved in the Battle of the Bulge, the Reichswald attacks and, as German resistance crumbled, the move into Bremen and Hamburg. On April 14, 1945 he was back in Luxembourg with his father, Prince Félix, to greet the grand duchess as she returned from exile accompanied by Winston Churchill and to celebrate with a jubilant population.

And this is rather what Ampleforth is for:

His early education was in Luxembourg followed by studies at Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire, where he learnt to eat whatever was set before him, a skill that came in handy in the army and at state banquets.

On falling off horses

There was no way we were going to leave — we were staying with the passengers to the end,” he told Ynetnews. “This was a matter of conscience, professionalism and morality. As a former officer in the Free French Forces, I couldn’t imagine leaving behind not even a single passenger.”

The crisis ended when dozens of Israeli commandos stormed the airport by night, arriving in a motorcade disguised to look like that of Ugandan leader Idi Amin. Three hostages, seven terrorists and 20 Ugandan soldiers were killed in the operation. Another hostage, who had been taken to a Ugandan hospital, was later murdered.


Upon his return from Entebbe, Mr. Bacos said that he took two weeks of vacation and then insisted that his first flight be to Israel, to see if he was “still afraid.” He was not and continued flying until his retirement in 1982.

Some might say this life was a failure

If, by the end, Simon Norton was concerned that his life had not been what you would expect of one of the cleverest men in the world, he did not show it.

This was the man who as a child was fêted as a prodigy in the Daily Mail and The Sunday Times. Yet as he sat amid the accumulated detritus of his basement — a tidy mind in an untidy world — he displayed little worry that his was not the position of eminence most readers would have predicted years ago.

He was the mathematician who gained his first first-class degree aged 17, who began his second hailed as among the most promising prospects of his generation — and who, indeed, had some notable success in his twenties. In the dim half-light of his Cambridge flat, however, he did not appear to be bothered whether after that he had really fulfilled his potential — whatever that means.

Well, yes, mathematical genius, has breakdown, leaves maths. So, a failure then.

Norton was unambitious and never quite of this world. He was also generous, concerned and kind. He did not have a partner, children or many close friends, but what he did have, wherever he went, was a way of eliciting fondness.

When he died, on February 12, the family said they were surprised by just how many people wanted to pay tribute. “Simon’s funeral was attended by mathematicians, bus campaigners (who look very similar to some mathematicians), publishers, grateful former tenants — a peculiar and lovely mix,” said Alexander Masters. “Afterwards we all ate jaffa cakes (Simon’s favourite biscuit) and went on an hour-long bus ride round London, in celebration.”

There’s a certain glorious – and rather English – victory to that life.

Is she really allowed to say this these days?

Karl Lagerfeld is dead, and the fashion industry he presided over from the house of Chanel rends its garments and calls itself heartbroken. His muse, a white cat called Choupette, which exists largely on Twitter – a metaphor for his misanthropy so pure I thank him – was photographed in a mourning veil, thanking us for our words of condolence. That his best beloved was literally inhuman, and very small, is no surprise. (It is rumoured that, if she exists, she will inherit his fortune, though that is illegal in France.)

I do not think Lagerfeld really liked women. It is impossible to watch his work and think he did

Is it politically acceptable to say that gay boys don’t like women these days?

The couture shows in Paris, at which he excelled, power the global fashion machine and send it to the duller parts of Earth. He decided what was lovely and what was not, who should be noticed and who should be ignored. None of this would matter if it didn’t have that power – fashion, when cornered, cites its triviality as a defence – except it did. The machine sold perfumes and handbags (almost no one can afford couture, and that kind of money is a sickness in itself) by offering an ever-receding image of beauty that no normal woman could ever attain, let alone hold. The girls who wore his clothes, which were as insubstantial as a fleeting dream (he was an artist, and his works expressed his philosophy perfectly), were very young and tiny. They seemed, when you watched them, only just born, with no blemish on them, existing only for the adornment of Lagerfeld’s feathers and bows.

The rest of it seems to be fat bird whining about fashion models.

On the subject of tomorrow

Let’s put a name to one Stan Chamberlain 149 Sqdn lost over Germany 7/8 September 1941in Wellington X9705. 5 others lost with him. His only child, a son, was born after he died. Standing in front of 6 gravestones and especially holding the telegram received by Ellen is extraordinarily moving. Real real people. I wear a poppy not glorify but to remember. My FiL has lived with the loss his whole life.

We who grow old remember….

Not bad, not bad at all

When a doctor gave him a long and convoluted explanation as to why he was going to stop treating him for sepsis, the monk interrupted him: “You mean I’m dying?” The doctor nodded. Sangharakshita looked thoughtfully at the pile of audiobooks that had just been stacked by his bed. He smiled and said: “You had better put those back.”

A different one. Heard from someone who was there. Actually, who was a flight controller there. However, this could just be a good story, really don’t know.

Plane coming in to land on carrier. Obvious that it’s not going to make it, it’ll splash and badly. Last words of pilot “Cancel two late lunches.”


With quiet stoicism, Taverner completed 41 missions over two tours as a navigator flying in Halifax bombers with No 51 Squadron. For this he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. The odds on aircrew surviving a single tour of 30 missions were about 1 in 6. The odds on surviving a second tour were even worse.

5/6 ths of Bomber Command aircrew died over a 30 mission tour?

5/6ths of crews lost at least one member of crew over a 30 mission tour?

Or they’ve got the odds the wrong way around – 1/6th died?

Doesn’t quite work

A raconteur with a pro- nounced sense of humour and a taste for the fine things in life, Jago was a repository of stories related to the alcohol industry. His first big success was to reinvigorate the almost forgotten Croft Pale Cream Sherry. He recalled walking into the sample room at Vila Nova de Gaia in Porto at 10am one day in 1963 to find George Robertson, the chairman of Croft, sampling an old tawny and smoking a large Havana. “I was priggishly shocked,” he recalled, then “George said: ‘Everyone smokes a cigar when they drink port.’ ”

Sure, it’s two stories got mixed. But tawny, Porto, that’s port, not sherry.

Still at least the Times has Tom Jago, correctly, inventing Bailey’s not the oft attributed Tony O’Reilly. Which is one of those stories where anecdotes and quotes migrate to a more famous past person – there’s an awful lot that Twain or Churchill didn’t say but others did.

Nice story

Of Peter Stringfellow:

Even as he came to rely on hearing aids and cosmetic surgery to hold the advancing years at bay, he continued to date girls less than half his age. When he was in his sixties one of his girlfriends asked him to send flowers to her mother on her 40th birthday.