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……


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.