Bruce Kent

Many people disagreed with Kent’s views, but this was an era when they would engage in courteous debate. He not only appeared in the press, but also gave talks to universities and schools including St George’s Ascot and the Judd School in Tonbridge. “I used to talk to trainee officers at the army staff college at Camberley and we had very reasonable and interesting discussion,” he said. “It annoys me when people assume that you must be a lunatic or a Russian spy.”

Indeed he did used to give talks. One at Downside.

After which I asked him “You said in your speech that war is outdated. If this is so then why is it that there’s been, on average, one a year since 1945?”

His answer “I’m sorry, I don’t understand your question”.

Oh, very good

For one fundraising event Fitzjohn was invited to be a judge at an American beauty pageant in 1993 alongside Roberto Canessa, who was on board an aircraft that crashed in the Andes in 1972, infamously causing survivors to resort to cannibalism. Fitzjohn recalled: “The first thing Roberto said to me was, ‘Tony, everyone I meet asks me what it is like to eat someone. Now finally I can ask you this — what is it like to be eaten?’ ”

(Shyman, a 400lb lion, had selected Fitzjohn for dinner. The beast pounced from behind, clamping his jaws on the throat of his prey.)

It’s The Truth, d’ye see?

All Tindle’s titles were decidedly local. Editors printed lists of funeral mourners and flower-show winners in a way that once gave the weekly Somerset Guardian Standard 125 per cent penetration in Frome — in other words, a quarter of the population were buying more than one copy a week.

As Sir Pterry puts it, get all the winners, and the competitors, names in the paper then they’ll all buy a copy to see their name in the paper.

Of course, Sir Pterry’s apprenticeship was on just such a paper – tho’ I don’t know if it was one of this group.

Well, yes sorta

The Harris boys were sent away to strictly disciplined Catholic schools such as Downside

Strictly disciplined isn’t quite it. Certain forms had to be observed and you were largely prevented from doing anything significantly dangerous. But not strict, no, largely left to go your own way from among the varied possibilities.

her three sons, Damian, Jared and Jamie,

As they did……

Well done that man, vry well done

A more recent book, Denver (2010), is about a rich man who is known for random acts of generosity in his community, but is later persuaded by a visiting busybody to distribute his money equally to everyone, only to find that this breeds discontent. The Guardian journalist and writer Polly Toynbee found her granddaughter reading it and wrote a column excoriating Denver for its anti-socialist allegory.

Pissing off Polly is a sign of a life well lived.

Many years back I got an email from a bloke who claimed to be the boyfriend of Polly’s sister. Said he found the blog – which at the time did rather concentrate on shouting at Polly – very fun and he was in the habit of reading choice bits to his inamorata. How true that claim was I’ve no idea but it did rather chuff at the time.

Don Young’s obituary

During his career, he unapologetically supported earmarks as a way to bring home projects and build up infrastructure in a geographically huge state where communities range from big cities to tiny villages. Critics deemed earmarks as pork.

Umm, yes. Wasn’t he part of that Bridge to Nowhere thing? Or was that one of the Senators?

Shane Warne dies

Bit of an odd place to read it but there we go:

Australia cricket legend and the greatest leg-spinner of all-time, Shane Warne, has died, aged 52, reports

Warne’s management released a brief statement in the early hours of Saturday (AEDT), that he passed away in Koh Samui, Thailand, of a suspected heart attack.

Damned idiots

City of 2 million under siege, world’s at the edge of a global war again, the only way to stop that city, those 2 million, starving is an airlift. And some tosser decides to complicate matters by chucking chocolate laden handkerchief parachutes out the ‘plane windows?

Absurd nonsense:

“Through the clouds came a little parachute with a fresh piece of chocolate. It was a symbol of hope that somebody out there realised you were under siege,” he told The Washington Post. “I think hope is the thing, not the candy bar. It was the hope.”

Gail Halvorsen, Candy Bomber pilot, was born on October 10, 1920. He died of respiratory failure on February 16, 2022, aged 101

And yet that’s actually the point, isn’t it? As Pandora’s story tells us, hope is the thing that makes up for all the rest.

What fun

The The Times obituary:

On the other was the short, understated Frenchman with precise mannerisms and a neatly trimmed moustache.

They’ve used 3 pics. None of which seem to show a moustache…..

To those whining about American racism

Sure, the country’s not perfect, it’s certainly more racist in everyday life than England is. And yet:

Back in the US he graduated from the Air Command and Staff College in Montgomery, Alabama. Subsequent postings took him to Italy and Germany, and to various bases in the US, including one in Kansas during which his wife and family could not join him because, he said, “as a black man, I couldn’t rent or buy a home”.

That’s a Major in the US Air Force there. A serving officer and decorated WWII veteran to boot.

I’d even say that the statement isn’t quite, wholly, true, as there were blacks in Kansas and they did live in something, so rent or buy was possible. But “home” here is possibly meant to mean more than “shack”.

Current day inequity in familial wealth is a rather more minor problem than that, isn’t it?

Real life and scripts

McKeand arranged for La Frenais and Clement, who were based in Hollywood, to have a weekly phone conversation with Connell to discuss the culture and argot of building sites. Connell would wait for their call outside a public phone box in Newcastle after the pubs had shut. On one occasion he was stopped by a police patrol, suspicious that nefarious activity was taking place. Connell told them: “I’m waiting for a call from my Hollywood scriptwriter.” Taken as cheek, he was handcuffed. Then the phone went in the call box and the policeman answering it was informed by La Frenais that it was Mr Connell’s scriptwriter calling from Hollywood. The policeman uncuffed Connell, pointed to the phone box, said “It’s for you” and drove off into the night.

His other jokes were good too

He compared analysing comedy to dissecting a frog. “Nobody laughs and the frog dies.”

Also very good:

Were all of his stories strictly true or did he sometimes exaggerate them for effect? “You do neaten them up a bit,” he admitted. “Real life can be so badly written.”

Good way to choose a career

Invalided out of the Marines, he had no idea of what career to pursue until one day when wandering down London’s Gower Street he noticed a parade of young women entering the door of a building and decided to follow them. It was Rada, and he immediately signed up and joined an intake that included Peter O’Toole, Alan Bates and Glenda Jackson.

As with a story about an accountant. So, why did you decide to get into film accounting?

Well, the rejects from the business are still above average totty….

As BiS says, the supply is there

After four years and slim pickings she started a modelling agency with a view to financing her recording career. The agency quickly evolved into an escort business when some of her models began asking her if she knew any “sugar daddies”.
Jody “Babydol” Gibson, Hollywood madam, was born in 1957. She died of undisclosed causes on January 2, 2022, aged 64

The awakening

Fun that it’s, by those modern measures, the most appalling and racist place on the Earth that did this:

He retrained as a priest and was ordained in 1961 when he was 30. Recognising his talent, the principal of his theological college arranged for him to study further at King’s College London. His family followed and during four years in Britain he worked as a part-time curate, first in Golders Green and then in the village of Bletchingley, Surrey.

It was in Britain that he first began to realise the intrinsic evil of apartheid. Police officers were polite. White people did not take precedence in queues. He visited Lord’s, the Royal Albert Hall and the Travellers Club in Pall Mall. He lost the sense of inferiority most black South Africans felt in the presence of whites, but that made his family’s return to racially segregated South Africa in 1967 all the more jarring.

Being better than apartheid SA is no great prize. And yet something I do keep telling folk, however much they tend not to believe me. Sure Britain’s not perfect. But on the subject of racism it is very much less so than pretty much anywhere else and has been so for a long, long, time.