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……


In later years he spent his time there quietly, playing chess and croquet and mowing his many acres on a tractor, sculpting crop circles into the greensward.

From Chuck Berry’s obituary.

It’s like finding out that a Marquis with the ancestral estate of rolling acres is in fact a crazed drug fiend. But then Bristol did do that, didn’t he?

Still my favourite lyric

Don’t let anyone ever tell you I have sophisticated tastes.

Looked at my watch and it was straight up twelve, man we started digging like an old steam shovel

This is also pretty good,

Looked at my watch and it was quarter to five, we were rolling like a Mustang on a four day drive

I remember this one

John Hurt, the widely-admired English actor who rose to fame playing flamboyant gay icon Quentin Crisp, has died aged 77.

There#’s a scene where he’s in the dock, wearing make up (no, not just stage, obviously). Made a hell of an impression if I can recall that all these years later. The character seemed to leap out of the screen*.

Oddly, I always thought he was Irish. Only English in the Peter O’Toole (who may actually have been born in England as well) sense, that the accent was trained.

*Scrolling down the article there’s a photo of it. But I remembered before scrolling down. And that photo does look very odd as well, that microphone is a bit modern for the time it is set isn’t it?

Yes, jolly good

His most memorable dispatch from France came after an unidentified aircraft had aroused a fever of speculation by crashing and scattering grenades across the runway at Orly. For whom was this deadly cargo intended? Ottaway was sent to investigate, and came back with a crisp one-line telegram: “Grenade is French for pomegranate.”

Decoding obituaries

Squire, who was the flamboyant and bibulous chairman

Err, I’m not sure here. Are we supposed to read that as loud and obnoxious drunk?

Wit, raconteur, bon viveur, Squire could sometimes enjoy life too much. He became ill in recent months when his conviviality finally caught up with him.

Possibly so, yes.

Fidel’s dead. Good

Fidel Castro’s Economic Disaster In Cuba

And do note that Puerto Rico result. That Caribbean island remained under that American domination, that cruel capitalism and the chaos of markets. It was never enriched by the scientific planning of socialism. And living standards soared by a factor of 4 while those in Cuba stagnated for 5 decades. And the Cuban system justified itself by freeing Cuba from such American hegemony.

For that Fidel Castro should not be forgiven.

We also need to heed this lesson. Non-market economic systems do not work. We do only have that spectrum available to us, laissez faire all the way to social democracy. Socialism, not even once people, not even once.

Nothing like admitting error and changing your mind

This obit writer is having fun:

Two years later he published The Unhappy Gays in which he argued that though homosexuals were “vile” they could be “cured”. In later life he seems to have moved on from this position, suggesting in an interview that, actually, homosexuals should be put to death, as recommended by the Old Testament.

Yes. Lots of fun:

Not that any of them really need a job because their father’s writing left the family extremely comfortable. The Left Behind series spawned a merchandise industry with CDs, DVDs, clothing, a board game in which players earn “redemption tokens” that can be cashed in for eternal life, and calendars that allow the chosen to count down the days until the rapture.

LaHaye was not thought to be using one of these calenders when he died from a stroke in hospital. Nor were there any reported sightings of his mortal remains lifting off into the sky.

Err, no

Lord Rix was told to put his daughter into a home. Instead, he fought for people like me
Ciara Lawrence

Actually, he did put his daughter in a home.

Did the fighting as well, true.

How damned British is this?

In 2002 he recruited well-known fellow peers to appear in a fundraising West End revue. The End of Peer Show featured Lord Healey (obituary, Oct 5, 2015) in a false moustache, flat cap and brown mac reciting The Lion and Albert and the Marquess of Bath singing The Stately Homes of England.

From the obituary of Lord Rix


Among the many extraordinary feats he achieved in his lifetime, the one which his fellow runners remember most fondly concerns his shoelaces. He learnt to tie them without stopping during a record breaking 350 mile run in 1987.

It was indeed a grand joke

It was on The Mrs Merton Show that she asked with straight face of Debbie McGee, the much younger wife of the magician Paul Daniels: “So, what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?”

That recurrent cancer finally caught up with her:

Caroline Aherne, who created, wrote and starred in the Royle Family, has died of cancer at the age of 52,

Sensible lad

Attrell Cordes was born in 1970, in Jersey City, across the Hudson river from Manhattan. His early life was marred by misfortune — his father died from pneumonia and a third brother drowned at the age of two. Attrell and Jarrett were raised by their mother Janice, a follower of the American spiritualist and mystic Edgar Cayce, and stepfather George Brown, who had played drums in Kool & the Gang.

The brothers sang together in a church choir but by their teens they were hanging out on the street, on the periphery of a netherworld of crime and drugs. “I lived between the yuppies and the killers,” Attrell noted with impressive understatement. “When you’re 14, it’s hard to know how to deal with that sort of thing, but I saw myself slowly becoming an idiot, so I left.”