Obituaries

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.

Sounds like a useful book to have

His first book studying the language in all its earthiness was The Latin Sexual Vocabulary, published in 1982. By looking at the Romans’ attitudes to obscenity, he offered a perspective on them that was relatable and exotic: relatable in that their society, like ours, was pervaded by obscenity; exotic in that many of their uses of obscenity now seem bizarre. For instance, they would shout swear words into thin air to ward off evil spirits. During celebrations of military victories, conquering generals would wear phallic amulets around their necks. In the town of Lavinium, the townspeople were expected to curse for an entire month in reverence of Liber, the god of wine.

The book was exhaustive in its cataloguing of scurrility, devoting a chapter to “Masturbor and its synonyms”. Nevertheless, Adams felt he had avoided “the current mania for discovering obscene double entendres in unlikely places”.

How many synonyms of mastubor could we make use of in describing the P³? Does even Latin have enough?

I think I’ve got this right

Stu Rasmussen obituary
First openly transgender mayor in America who became the subject of protests and counterprotests and inspired a musical

OK, and small town America handles it all very well indeed:

Then, three weeks later, members of the Westboro Baptist Church, an aggressively homophobic hate group based in Topeka, Kansas, arrived in Silverton to “speak some words of truth to this 60-year-old pervert”. The locals were having none of it. Two hundred of them staged a counterprotest. Some of the men dressed in women’s clothes to show solidarity with Rasmussen. Others waved placards proclaiming “Not In Our Town”, “Stu Rocks” and “Jesus Loves Stu”. They drove the intruders out.

Thing is, I know the name of that town. Think I’m right in this, that’s where the Mack Fontana novels are set. Fire chief who ends up having detectoring adventures.

The mayor, a major character, is a tough blonde broad who ends up bedding, at one time or another, near all the male characters except the hero.

But what fun to find out that reality is so much more interesting than a mere novel?

Oh, very good, very good indeed

From Bob Dole’s farewell letter: “I’m a bit curious to learn if I am correct in thinking that Heaven will look a lot like Kansas.

…And to see, like others who have gone before me, if I will still be able to vote in Chicago.”

Tee Hee

Ronald Jones liked to tell the story about the ambassador who called Claridge’s during the Coronation and asked to speak “to the king”. The switchboard operator replied: “To which king, if you please, sir?”

You can smell it from this distance

At the age of seven she was traumatised when her 62-year-old father left her 42-year-old mother and ran off with an 18-year-old blonde accordion player.

The obit writer’s joy. Sure, OK, showman runs off with showgirl, write me something new. Oh, an accordion? No, no, that’s got to, gotta, go in.

Not exactly the face of ball of steel

Nor really the name:

Frank Giblett obituary
Bomb disposal expert who was awarded the George Medal for his persistent courage during the Eoka campaign in Cyprus

What’s that line? Not all heroes wear a cape? Nor, perhaps we should add, look like they should either.

At just 5ft 6in and slightly built

Well, yes, it was a monstrosity

Southgate shopping centre in Bath was the last of OLP’s big retail developments before recession brought commercial property development to a halt by the mid-Seventies. By now Luder was a marked man. “We used Bath stone but they still called it a concrete monstrosity,” he said.

They pulled down a perfectly good Georgian slum to build that. According to folk tales, had 17 pubs in it…..

Owen Luder was responsible for some of Britain’s most hated buildings. Yet to aficionados of brutalism, he was owed a debt of gratitude for sculptural concrete creations such as the Tricorn shopping centre in Portsmouth and the Trinity Centre multistorey car park in Gateshead.

Here’s the thing. I seriously doubt that he ever lived in anything he or his practice designed. And if he did it wouldn’t have been in brutalist style. There’s a significant antinomianism in British architecture. This is for the proles, we the special will live in something else.

Myself I’d cure the entire planning and architecture systems quite easily. Anyone involved must live in what is built. forcibly.

Glorious invention

Perhaps the most pointless, and most successful, of Poynter’s products was “the little black box”. There were various iterations, but essentially the user activates it by flipping a switch. A small hand then emerges to pull the switch back. That was all: the toy existed solely to turn itself off.

Very English

He had promised the American vendor that he would make the event special, and it was. Having dismissed Grosvenor House and the Dorchester as impractical venues for the sale of “Ten Important Motor Cars’’, he picked up a colleague’s casual remark and hired the Albert Hall for 24 hours. Getting the Bugatti inside and on to a specially built ramp over the stalls was an experience that everyone agreed was suboptimal. At 21ft long, nearly 7ft wide and weighing more than three tonnes, it would not go through the doors.

A frustrated and furious Brooks was persuaded to go home to bed while his team wrestled with the problem. Luckily the night manager announced that he was going to take his break, and he was confident that when he returned there would be no sign that the doorway architrave might have been temporarily removed.

Rules are rules and they must never be noticed to be broken.

Mid-century Olympics

She also recalled that the women were kept strictly apart from the men in the Olympic village, which ensured there were no distractions. She told The Olympian newsletter in 2019. “There was a fence round our part, with sentries on the gates. The only people to have fun were the pole-vaulters.”

Unlikely

McCall, a quietly spoken, expository Scot who was ideologically opposed to the “high-pitched left”, took the IPCS out on strike again in 1981 in an industrial action that effectively stopped the Royal Mint printing money.

The Mint, err, mints coins. The Bank of England – through De La Rue I think?- prints notes.

So the strike could have stopped the Mint minting, the BoE printing, but it’s unlikely to have stopped the Mint printing….