Monday, 31 December 2012

In Memoriam 2012 (part five)

27th August – Freddie Fletcher, 71 

Former chief executive of Newcastle United during the 1990s.

28th August – Rhodes Boyson, 87
Outspoken Tory MP who looked like he had stepped out of a Dickensian novel.

29th August – Sergei Ovchinnikov, 43
Tragic Russian Volleyball coach at the 2012 London Olympics.

31st August – Sergei Sokolov, 101
Long lived Soviet military leader, a 55 year career which stretched World War two battles on either side of the Russia front (from Stalingrad to Lake Khasan) and the Afghanistan wars of the 1970s. Later in life, he has Russian Minister of Defence, until he had to resign after an incident in which a German aviator, Mathias Rust, landed his small plane on Red Square!

31st August – Max Bygraves, 89
Singer, actor, joke teller, raconteur. 

1st September – Hal David, 91
The man who wrote more hits than I’ve had warm dinners. Together with his writing partner Burt Bacharach, Hal David essentially wrote the music of the 1960s.

Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my head? I’ll Never Fall in Love Again? Walk on by? What the World needs now is love? Say a Little Prayer? Always something there to remind me? Anyone who had a heart? Magic Moments?

All him.

The Look of Love? Moonraker? We Have all the time in the world? Whats new Pussycat? (They long to be) Close to you? Alfie? Dont Go Breakin my Heart?


And about 700 others. 

3rd September – Michael Clarke Duncan, 54
Actor best known for his role in The Green Mile.

5th September – Joe South, 72

Songwriter. He wrote “Hush”, a song best known by its Deep Purple cover, which, fact fans, is one of the few Deep Purple hits Jon Lord sings on. South also provided the guitar in The Sound of Silence, a feat which “alone would give him musical immortality”, as Jon Arnold said. 

6th September – Terry Nutkins, 66
BBC wildlife presenter. 

10th September – James Wellbeloved, 86
MP who defected to the SDP in 1981, subsequently being best known for Michael Foots jibe about being inappropriately named, and for losing in the 1983 election to the standing Tory.

11th September – Christopher Stevens, 52
US Ambassador to Libya.

12th September – Sid Watkins, 84
Neurosurgeon who became best known for his work with Formula One. He was first on the scene for Senna’s fatal crash, but was a large part of why there has been no F1 fatalities since that date, saving the lives of many other drivers, including Rubens Barrichello and Mika Hakkinen.

Formula One’s medical delegate from 1978 until 2004, and a part of the furniture for even longer, the man affectionately known in the paddock as ‘Prof’ was simply an unstoppable force in terms of driving up safety standards. From introducing correct extraction techniques for getting drivers out of cockpits after accidents, to initiating moves to improve crash structures and other safety measures, Watkins helped save the lives of many well-known drivers. He also had a brilliant career as one of the world’s foremost neurosurgeons, practising in the UK and the United States.” Tom Cary, Telegraph

12th September – Derek Jameson, 82
Former Daily Express and News of the World editor who found a career on Radio 2 and presenting People on BBC2.

14th September – Jacques Antoine, 88
Inventor of Fort Boyard, The Crystal Maze, and Interceptor, all fine game shows in their own right.

16th September – John Coates, 85
Producer of children and Christmas animation classic, The Snowman.

17th September – Russell E Train, 92 

Head of the Environment Protection Agency under Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, and the founder of the Wildlife Leadership Foundation.

Mr. Train was widely considered the father of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the cornerstone of all modern federal environmental legislation. Its signature provision was the look-before-you-leap requirement for federal agencies to prepare environmental impact statements before proceeding with any major project.
Mr. Train developed the idea of establishing the Council on Environmental Quality, a policy office within the White House. He also helped persuade the Nixon administration to create the Environmental Protection Agency, empowered to execute and regulate the nation’s new program of safeguarding natural resources and protecting public health.
“I felt strongly that environmental issues needed a sharp, cutting edge in government, one that had high visibility to the public,” Mr. Train recalled in his 2003 memoir, “Politics, Pollution, and Pandas.” And, he wrote, “this view finally prevailed.” 

New York Times

After the EPA was started in 1970, William Ruckelshaus was its first administrator; and when he left in 1973 to run the FBI, Train was chosen to lead the EPA. He stayed in the post through Gerald Ford's presidency and helped create such other landmark environmental laws as the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Air Act.
"The natural world has lost one its greatest friends," Ruckelshaus said Tuesday. "Russell Train was a pioneer in the modern environmental movement and deserves the thanks of every American, indeed every citizen of the world for his life's work."
LA Times

When the World Wildlife Fund was created in 1961, Train was brought on as its first President.

During the Obama administration, Mr. Train worked behind the scenes to shore up support for EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and her ongoing effort to regulate greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change. During a private dinner in 2009, Mr. Train told her she was well within her authority under the Clear Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant.
And he continued to come into the D.C. offices of WWF-U.S. every week up until just before his death, Roberts recalled. “He would prowl the hallways in a seersucker suit, poking the troops, and reminding people to do unconventional things to get things done,” he said.

Washington Post

17th September – Lou Kenton, 104
A man with a quiet life, as a potter in Stepney from Jewish Ukrainian refugee parents, and who signed up for the International Brigade. Who served as an ambulance man on the Front Line of the Spanish Civil War, and was one of the last surviving war veterans. Who married an exile from Nazi Germany who followed to Spain. Who worked on a whaling ship, and then was bombed in the Second World War. Who was an active Communist right up till the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Who went onto work for the Financial Times until well into his 70s. Who fought Mosley himself in the Battle of Cable Street. Who swam for Britain in the 1941 Spartakiade Games. Who was celebrated both by Vaclav Havel and by the Spanish governments personally for his efforts.

I think its fair to say he had a fairly quietly life.

“After leaving school at fourteen Kenton got a job in a paper factory in London. He later recalled: "On my first day at the factory, I was involved in seven fights. I reacted very badly to being called a Jew bastard." Spartacus online

“One evening myself and Lillian and my dear friend Ben Glazer walked along the Embankment. We walked - stopped at many coffee stalls - talking, wondering what it would be like in Spain. We didn't finally decide until we reached a coffee stall at Westminster Bridge, opposite the House of Commons. I think we had already decided to go, but didn't say so in as many words. I think we were deeply fearful in our hearts, hut none of us wanted to show our fears. What would it be like? Would we ever come back? What if we were captured? And when we decided - how we embraced! Lillian kissed us both. We linked arms and walked almost cheerfully down Whitehall to the all-night Lyons Corner House just off Trafalgar Square for more coffee and eggs and bacon. From there we decided that tomorrow morning we would go and volunteer.” Lou Kenton

18th September – Brian Woolnough, 63 

Sports writer for The Sun and the Daily Star, and a familiar sight on Sky sports channels, taking over the hosting of the long running Sunday Supplement from Jimmy Hill in 2007.

18th September – Santiago Carrillo, 97 

23rd February 1981. Democracy is barely years old in Spain after the death of Franco. The elected Spanish government suffered an attempted coup shown on TV. (The same coup in fact, in which the King Juan Carlos II stepped in and quashed quickly, thus giving him superstar status forever in Spain...) Gunmen ordered MPs in their parliament to lie down, this order had only three dissenters. One was the outgoing Prime Minister, Adolfo Suarez, and in fact Parliament was sitting to vote in his successor when Tejero’s men ran in. The second was Manuel Mellado, the man who had reformed Franco’s armed forces (with a speed that suggested he might have been planning for slightly longer than he had been meant to be!). 

The third was Santiago Carrillo, the Spanish mix of Tony Benn and Fidel Castro, leader of the Communist Party of Spain, chose to sit and have a cigarette. 

This was hardly the most exciting incident in Carrillo’s long life, in which he was a chief opponent of Franco for forty years, and lived long enough to denounce Communism, take up Social Democracy and get an Honorary Degree in 2005! 

One would not wish to paint a whitewash of the man merely for his stance against Franco however. Debate wages on between the Spanish historians into just how much Carrrillo knew about the Paracuellos Massacre. From 1938 to 1976 he lived in exile in Paris. The respect the left held for him and the influence that carried, as well as his charismatic personality, cannot be underestimated in just how important it was in easing over the Civil War feelings in the early days of the post-Franco government. Instead of bitter recriminations, Carrillo opted to take on opponents and compromise for the best for the nation.

Carrillo put his longevity down to continued active participation in Spanish political life, writing essays and making contributions to public seminars and a weekly nationwide radio debate well into his 90s.

"I am a politician with a sense of reality," he told Reuters in an interview, explaining his career.

"If you can say anything good about me, it's that I have lived many years and actively participated in many episodes of Spain's history," he said, presenting a documentary in 2009.


“ Looking to the post-Franco era, Carrillo announced that although he would be opposed to a monarchy he would accept it if that were the popular will.
The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 was a turning point. Carrillo condemned it, saying: “The international communist movement must allow each member party the right to adopt its own position, because each country is at a different stage of development”. He added that he was seeking “an independent, democratic form of socialism in which the role of the Communist Party could be that of a guide but not a ruler”.
In an attempt to unite the disparate opposition as it became clear that Franco’s life was nearing its end, Carrillo formed, with the liberal monarchist leader Rafael Calvo Serer, the Junta Democratica, a coalition of parties from across the political spectrum which demanded free democratic parties, an amnesty for political prisoners and a separation of Church and State.
Franco died in November 1975 and King Juan Carlos became head of state; but the Communist Party remained illegal, and Santiago Carrillo’s exile continued. He returned to Spain secretly in February 1976, but was arrested and imprisoned 10 months later — only to be released after a week following widespread protests.

Telegraph obit

21st September – Henry Bachau, 99
Belgian author and associate of Camus.

21st September – Mike Baker, 55 

(Picture copyright, the BBC)

BBC News political correspondent.

21st September – Bill King, 102 

British Naval Officer who was Commanding officer of three British submarines during World War Two, and who had an active role in both the battles of the North Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

After four months on a depot ship, King was given his first submarine command, HMS Snapper, in April 1939. Sent on patrols in the North Sea, Snapper's first taste of warfare was a very near miss from a bomb dropped off Harwich, Essex, in December 1939 by the RAF. The boat limped into the harbour without major damage and in the following eight months King sank six enemy ships off Jutland, earning his first DSO in spring 1940, followed by the Distinguished Service Cross in autumn that year.

During this period he also ran the boat aground off the Dutch coast but managed to refloat her without damage. The customary inquiry did not lead to a court martial but an invitation to drinks with the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, not long before he became prime minister.

Dan Van der Vat, Guardian obit

25th September – John Bond, 79 

Malcolm Allison here. No chance of that friendly drink then?

Football manager who took Manchester City to the 1981 FA Cup final, which they lost to that Ricky Villa goal in a replay. He had started the season as Norwich City boss. However, when his pal Malcolm Allison was sacked as Man City boss, Bond knew the only comforting thing to do would be to take the job himself. And then ousted Allisons new club out of the FA Cup in a thumping. (I’m sure he’d have preffered a drink, to be honest!) Bond also destroyed his old club Norwich 6-0 on route to that final.

25th September – Andy Williams, 84
Singer extraordinaire. 

25th September – Eric Ives, 71
Historian who wrote of Anne Boleyn.

27th September – Herbert Lom, 95

Closeau’s long suffering boss. Lom brought pathos and sympathy to the role of Dreyfuss, Peter Sellers’ boss in the Pink Panthers films who goes from slightly annoyed to full blown insane supervillain due to his inept employees antics over the course of the film series. Lom’s performance, pitched exactly at the right angle between Shakespeare and OTT farce, is a large part of the early Panther films, such as the classic A Shot in the Dark, charm. He was also Louis in the Lady killers, Dr Armstrong in the 1974 And Then There Were None, Gen Mosquera in Whoops Apocalypse and even popped up more recently in the modern version of Murder in the Vicarage.

29th September – Malcolm Wicks, 65
Croydon Labour MP from 1992 to 2012, who was Minister of Trade and Industry for Tony Blair, and Energy for Gordon Brown. Vice President of Carers UK.

“He was a committed and highly regarded MP for Croydon North. When The Daily Telegraph published its exposé of members’ expenses in 2009, it cited Wicks as a parliamentary “angel” because he had not exploited the system. Indeed he paid for a storefront constituency office out of his own pocket.

After rioters devastated parts of central Croydon in 2011, Wicks demanded answers about the response of the police. A year on and with cancer taking its toll, he pressed in the House for an end to the delay in compensating those who had lost their homes and livelihoods. He put his weight behind campaigns to have the Picture House at Crystal Palace reopened as a cinema instead of an evangelical church, and – successfully to date – against the closure of Upper Norwood library after Croydon council cancelled its share of the funding.”

Telegraph obit

30th September – Barry Commoner, 95
Biologist who ran to be US President in the 1980 election for the Citizens Party.

“Commoner first came to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s by opposing nuclear weapons tests, a campaign that soon branched out into other environmental concerns and issues of peace and social justice. He was not the first to warn that the Earth was living beyond its means, but he was one of the most energetic in trying to get the message across to the American public. Over 20 years he helped to lay the foundation stones for the “green” movement in a series of books which linked ecological concerns with a radical social agenda, appealing to traditional nature conservationists, the anti-nuclear movement and civil rights activists. The evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould once wrote that he regarded Commoner as “right and compassionate on nearly every major issue”.

In The Closing Circle (1971) Commoner identified four simple “laws” of ecology — “Everything is connected to everything else”; “everything must go somewhere”; “Nature knows best”; and “there is no such thing as a free lunch” — and argued that America should restructure its economy to conform to these rules. “Now that the bill for the environmental debt has been presented,” he wrote, “our options have become reduced to two: either the rational, social organisation of the use and distribution of the Earth’s resources; or a new barbarism.”


30th September – Bobby Jaggers, 64
Pro-wrestler who toured the various territories in the 1970s and 80s.

1st October- Eric Hobsbawm, 95
Marxist Historian.

1st October – Big Jim Sullivan, 71
Big Jim was a session guitarist of some renown. You will know of and may even love his work. You can hear the BJS guitar sound and influence on such songs as:

Moon Rivers, the Z Cars theme, Maigret theme, the iconic James Bond intro, I only want to be with you, From Russia with Love, Happiness (Ken Dodd), She’s Not There, You Really Got Me, Goldfinger, All Day and All of the Night, Ferry Cross the Mersey, Its not Unusual, most of Donovans back catalogue, Trains and Boats and Planes, Whats New Pussycat, Tears (Ken Dodd), You’ve got to hide your love away, the carnival is over, Thunderball, The sun ain’t goinna shine anymore, Alfie, You Dont have to say you love me, Mellow yellow, Puppet on a string, Green grass of home, Release me, You only live twice, Big Spender, Universal Soldier, Legend of xanadu, Delilah, Dream a little dream of me, Zabadak, Ring of Bright Water, Je T’aime, Space Oddity, For Once in my life, She’s a Lady, Ernie (the Fastest Milkman in the West), I’d like to teach the world to sing, Alone Again (Naturally), You’re So Vain, and the Top of the Pops theme.

For starters.

5th October – Keith Campbell, 58
Scottish biologist famous for cloning Dolly the Sheep.

6th October – Chadli Bendjedid, 83
President of Algeria from 1979 to 1992.

“He made the decision to introduce multiparty elections in 1988, as ordinary Algerians responded with outrage to the brutal military quelling of riots and protests sparked by a slumping economy and soaring food prices. Prompted by a mixture of genuine sympathy and political self-interest, Bendjedid dismissed the prime minister and the head of military security before organising two referendums that sealed constitutional and electoral reforms.

The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was one of 39 parties formed as a result, and was seen as the principal challenger to the National Liberation Front (FLN), the party of power, which had led the anti-colonial uprising against the French.

The first test of the new system came in local elections in June 1990 and resulted in a devastating defeat for the FLN, as Islamic candidates captured the bulk of seats. The government accepted the result but, in March 1991, three months before the country’s first free general election, introduced crude new electoral rules that appeared little short of blatant gerrymandering.”


8th October – Ken Sansom, 85
The voice of Rabbit in Winnie the Pooh.

8th October – Eric Lomax, 94
British POW who wrote his book The Railway Men based on his experience.

9th October – Paddy Roy Bates, 91
Eccentric. Ruler of Sealand from 1967 till his death. Sealand is an old fort about six miles off the Suffolk Coast, which war veteran, pirate DJ and all round mad man declared his own kingdom. In his time he successfully saw off the British government, and attempted coup d’etats. 

Let’s be frank. Life would be much more boring without people like Paddy Roy Bates around.

10th October – Mike Singleton, 61
Video game developer for the Spectrum.

10th October – Alex Karras, 77
American football player better known for his role as Mongo in the film Blazing Saddles.

11th October – Helmut Haller, 73
Footballer best known for scoring the opening goal in the 1966 World Cup final, and for keeping the ball from that match for thirty years when it was going to be discarded.

13th October – Stuart Bell, 74
Labour MP.

14th October – Sir John Moreton, 94
“A decorated war veteran, Moreton joined the former Colonial Service in 1946. As Private Secretary first to Thomas Lloyd, Permanent Under-Secretary of State, and later to the Colonial Secretary, Alan Lennox-Boyd, he was closely involved in discussions with former colonies in Africa which were seeking self-government en route to independence.

His first overseas posting took him to Kenya (1953-55), where he was seconded to the government as secretary of the Colony Emergency Committee, later the War Council, which was coordinating military, police and civil action against the Mau Mau. Moreton was deeply upset by subsequent allegations of atrocities committed at that time.

Telegraph obit

14th October – John Clive, 79
Actor best known for his role in The Italian Job.

19th October – Walter Harrison, 91
The Labour party Chief Whip from 1966 to 1970, and Deputy from 1974 to 1979. An honourable man whose honour may have lost his party the 1979 vote of confidence.

It was a source of some surprise at Westminster that after his retirement as an MP, Walter Harrison was never offered a seat in the House of Lords. It was a position he had unquestionably earned, having made such a huge contribution to the survival of the Callaghan government and having clearly deserved such elevation rather more than many others among his less distinguished colleagues who were so preferred. It was a personal slight attributed to a longstanding disagreement with Neil Kinnock, who was Labour party leader at the time, and one which was bitterly resented on Harrison's behalf by his many friends.

Despite the tough dealings in which he engaged as the deputy chief whip during those immensely difficult years in which he helped keep Labour in office, there was a considerable nobility to Harrison's personal role. It has only recently been revealed that in order to try to spare the dying Labour MP Sir Alfred Broughton from being brought into the Commons for the vote of confidence which precipitated the 1979 general election, Harrison approached his opposite number in the Conservative whips' office, Bernard Weatherall.  He asked the Tory deputy chief whip to observe the convention under which a member of the other party would abstain to match the absence of a sick MP.

According to a new play by James Graham, currently being staged at the National Theatre, Weatherill asserted that the convention was not applicable in such a critical vote and no Tory MP could possibly agree to abstain; he then offered to do so himself out of his own sense of honour. Harrison, motivated by a similar decency, recognised that such a gesture would certainly affect Weatherill's future career and refused to accept the offer.

Broughton was not obliged to attend the vote and the government lost by one vote. Broughton died five days later and Weatherill was subsequently elected Speaker of the Commons, despite the opposition of the new prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, to his candidacy. Harrison always treasured a letter from a defeated but unresentful Callaghan assuring him that he had done the right thing in deciding not to bring Broughton to Westminster for the vote.

Julie Langdon, Guardian

19th October – Mike Graham, 61
Son of wrestling promoter Eddie Graham, and wrestler in his own right.

20th October – E Donnall Thomas, 92
Nobel Prize winner in medicine for his pioneering work in bone marrow transplant with Joseph E Murray.

20th October – Paul Kurtz, 86
American skeptic.

21st October – William Walker, 99
Oldest surviving Battle of Britain RAF man, who survived being shot down.

21st October – George McGovern, 90 

American politician who was the Democratic nominee for President in 1972, but lost heavily to Richard Nixon. The election was so heavily lost, that during Watergate bumper stickers would appear on cars reference the defeat: “Don’t blame me, I’m from Massachusetts!” He was a long shot to get the nomination in the first place. He was the first leader of the Food for Peace program, a UN ambassador, and an advocate against world hunger and for child nutrition. To know him for merely one election, which was only a footnote in a fantastic career, would be to do the man a terrible disservice.

22nd October – Russell Means, 72
Native American activist and actor.

22nd October – Mike Morris, 66
TV-am Presenter.

24th October – Bill Dees, 73
Musician who wrote the iconic Roy Orbison track, Pretty Woman.

24th October – Margaret Osborne du Pont, 94
Female tennis player, fourth on the all time list, who entered the Hall of Fame in 1967, who won six Grand Slam singles titles, and thirty one doubles grand slam titles. Not bad going for someone who never entered the Austrian Open! Her 1948 US Open final vs Louise Brough remains the longest female final in US Open history. She was also undefeated for twenty years in the Wightman Cup (the predecessor of the modern day Fed Cup).

25th October – Jacques Barzun, 104
French American historian and philosopher.

25th October – Emmanuel Steward, 68
American boxer who trained Lennox Lewis.

27th October – Ian Buist, 82
British diplomat in Kenya during the 1950s, and a gay activist.

31st October – Brian Cobby, 83
Voice of the Speaking Clock.

31st October – John Fitch, 95
Former F1 driver, who raced in the 1953 Italian GP alongside Stirling Moss.

1st November – Brad Armstrong, 50
Underrated WCW wrestler who was often stuck under terrible gimmicks (Buzzkill, for example, a parody of his own brothers gimmick in WWF at the time) and underpushed in favour of more muscle bound opponents. Brad was one of the members of the strong Armstrong clan; his dad was Bullet Bob Armstrong, a territory legend and a member of the WWE Hall of Fame; his brother Brian was Road Dogg, one of the WWE’s most popular wrestlers in the late 90s and his other brother, Scott, is a current WWE referee. The Armstrongs were one of the few wrestling dynasties to have avoid a tragedy, alas, the law of averages has hit. No drugs or sordid details in this tragic tale though, Brad Armstrong was the victim of medical distress (ie the body shutting down due to a medical condition).

1st November – Geoffrey Lofthouse, 86
The miners MP.

When Pontefract’s Labour MP died in 1978, Lofthouse defeated Scargill’s nominee to capture one of Labour’s safest seats. Three years later he was challenged by the NUM Left-winger Ken Capstick; to Scargill’s fury, the constituency party put Lofthouse on a shortlist of one and reselected him.

From the outset of the strike at the start of 1984, Lofthouse was convinced that it would end in tears because Scargill had insisted on calling out his members without a ballot. But he kept his views to himself, and stood resolutely by the miners. He repeatedly urged the Energy Secretary Peter Walker to intervene , and pressed for a team of arbiters acceptable to Scargill and the Coal Board Chairman Ian MacGregor.

Lofthouse sought an emergency debate when a group of Yorkshire miners was detained by Nottinghamshire police who asked what they thought of Scargill riding round in a Jaguar and whether they read the Communist Morning Star. “I am no police basher,” he told the Commons, “but there must be great concern if these allegations are true.”

In June 1984 Lofthouse told Mrs Thatcher that he would be attending the funeral of a miner killed on the picket line, and that she would be responsible for “any future injuries and deaths” if she did not intervene to bring about a settlement. He accused “public school punks” on the Tory benches of taking a “sadistic pleasure” in the miners’ plight.

Telegraph obit

3rd November – Tommy Godwin, 91
British cycling legend who won 2 bronze medals in the 1948 London Olympics and lived long enough to see the 2012 London Olympics. He was an Ambassador for the Games, which were his last hurrah as his health began to fade.

5th November – Ken Stephinson, 79
Producer of the BBC series Great Railway Journeys.

5th November – Elliot Carter, 103
American composer.

6th November – Ivor Powell, 96
The worlds oldest working football coach who retired in 2010 aged 93.

6th November – Clive Dunn, 92
Don’t panic! Jones of Dad’s Army, permission to call him a legend, Sir.

Very well, then.

Clive Dunn was a legend, Sir!

Don’t panic! 

7th November – Kevin O’Donnell Jr, 61
American SF writer.

7th November – Harry McShane, 92
Scottish footballer who later worked for many years as talent scout at Manchester United, one of his old clubs.

8th November – Roger Hammond, 76 

In the DVD commentary for Mawdryn Undead, Peter Davison refers to Hammond as deceased, when he was very much alive at the time, and in fact went on to star in the Kings Speech. Toby Hadoke mentioned this fact to me about a week before it came out in the press that Roger Hammond had died, this time for real. I have personal fandom of this man, he played M in the Uncle Jack and the Loch Noch Monster series, which I insist was one of the best kids shows I ever saw as a child. An anthropologist who wound up at RADA, taking roles in everything from Doctor Who to the Madness of King George. 

9th November – Bill Tarmey, 71
Actor best known for his role of Jack Duckworth in Corrie. 

9th November – Sergey Nikolsky, 107
Russian Mathematician

9th November – Valerie Eliot, 86
TS Eliot’s widow.

11th November – Sir Rex Hunt, 86
Governer of the Falkland Islands during the war.

14th November – Martin Fay, 76
Fiddler for the Chieftains.

14th November – Alex Alves, 37
Footballer best known for a goal of the season in the Bundesliga. 

16th November – Leo Blair, 89
Tony Blair’s dad.

17th November – Armand Desmet, 81
Belgian cyclist.

18th November – Kenny Morgans, 73
Welsh footballer who played for Man U and was in the Munich Air crash.

18th November – William McCarthy, 87
Labour politician and humanist.

“The following year British Rail and its unions agreed to his chairing the Railway Staff National Tribunal. Within months he was working to resolve an overtime ban by drivers, called just as the miners’ strike and oil crisis triggered the Three-Day Week.

In the wake of those disputes, and with Labour back in power, inflation soared — as did public sector pay demands and, consequently, fares. In 1975 the Tribunal recommended increasing BR’s annual pay offer from 21.2 to 27.5 per cent. Three years later came one of the most intractable disputes, over bonuses for driving the high-speed Advanced Passenger Train. The drivers’ union Aslef insisted the bonus go to all its members, and went on strike; McCarthy ruled that only those driving at more than 100mph should receive it. It took Aslef a year to accept the ruling.

McCarthy’s tribunal also managed to resolve the dispute during the Falklands War over drivers’ flexible rostering; Aslef insisted on its members working a fixed shift, regardless of whether this fitted in with the timing of trains. In September 1982 McCarthy recommended a six per cent productivity increase to all rail workers; it was not paid until the following spring because of foot-dragging by militant drivers, and then only after McCarthy proposed that all staff except drivers receive it.

Telegraph obit

19th November – Boris Strugatskiy, 79
Russian SF author.

19th November – John Hefin, 71
Welsh TV director.

21st November – Emily Squires, 71
Sesame Street director.

21st November – Vladka Meed, 90
Polish resistance fighter.

23rd November – Lady Diana Isaac, 91

23rd November – Larry Hagman, 81
Actor best known for his role as JR Ewing in Dallas, and fondly recalled here for his role in The Eagle Has Landed, my favourite film. 

24th November – Hector Camacho, 50

24th November – Ian Campbell, 79
British folk singer.

24th November – Chris Stamp, 73
Music producer who launched The Who.

25th November – Dinah Sheridah, 92 

Actress of renown, best known for her spot in The Railway Children. Was also Chancellor Flavia in the Doctor Who anniversary special, The Five Doctors.

25th November – Dave Sexton, 82
Former Manchester United and Chelsea manager.

26th November – Joseph Murray
Nobel Prize winner in Medicine for his pioneering work in bone marrow transplants with E Donnall Thomas. They died thirty seven days apart.

29th November – Buddy Roberts, 67
Former pro-wrestler and one of the founding Fabulous Freebirds.

30th November – Homer R Warner, 90
Possessor of a brilliant name, and also a pioneering cardiologist, in the subject of medical informatics.

30th November – Allen Joseph, 93

1st December – Phil Taylor, 95
Liverpool football club legend, who went on to manage the club.

1st December – Mitchell Cole, 27
Footballer who scored the first goal at the new Wembley.

4th December – Miguel Calero, 41
Colombian goalkeeper at the 2001 Copa America.

5th December – Doug Smith, 75
Former Dundee United Chairman.

5th December – Oscar Niemeyer, 104
Grumpy Old Man, and architect.

“It’s shit!”
Niemeyer, being asked how it felt to be 102.

An inspiration to all who wanted to be talented grumpy old folk one day.

5th December – Elisabeth Murdoch, 103
Mother of Rupert, and philanthropist to several charities.

5th December – Dave Brubeck, 91
Jazz musician best known for Take Five. 

6th December – Huw Lloyd-Langton, 61
Guitarist for Hawkwind.

6th December – Keitaini Graham, 32
Amateur wrestler who complete for Micronesia in the 2012 London Olympic games.

6th December – Bim Diederich, 90
Cyclist who won three Tour de France Stages in the 1950s.

6th December – Miguel Abia Biteo Borico, 51
Prime Minister of the Equatorial Guinea from 2004 to 2006.

7th December – Rusty Mills, 49
Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain animator.

7th December – Irene Hughes, 92
American TV psychic. 

10th December – Patrick Moore, 89 

British TV legend. 

11th December – Ravi Shankar 

Over to Mandy...

Ravi Shankar was a significant figure in my life growing up, by virtue of his influence and close relationship with my childhood hero George Harrison. George became fascinated with Indian music after encountering the Indian band used for the restaurant scene in the Help! film in 1965. This motivated him to go out and buy a cheap sitar from a shop in London. George’s messing around on it led to it’s being used on Norwegian Wood on Rubber Soul. Ravi was very diplomatic on being asked what he thought of it the first time he heard it. “I was horrified.”

Shankar was recommended to George as someone he might want to check out if he was interested in Indian music. So, Harrison invested in a few albums, instantly fell in love with what he heard and wanted to meet Ravi with a view to learning how to play sitar properly. Their first meeting was somewhat amusing. George turned up at the airport (somewhere in the States or Europe) wearing, as he thought appropriate, an Indian pyjama suit. Ravi was impeccable in his European business. The switch in culture attire gave them a chuckle and probably broke the ice.

In 1966, George and his wife Patti took off to India for an extended vacation. The plan was to go incognito and for George to start studying sitar under Ravi. The best laid plans went the way of mice and men. The media caught wind and it proved difficult for the lessons to carry on. During one session, George was called away to the phone – Beatle duty never being far round the corner. He placed his sitar on the floor, got up and stepped over the instrument. This earned him a slap on the leg from Ravi, and a thorough bollocking for not respecting the instrument properly.

Still, the pair went onto become firm friends, almost like father and son. Indian culture and music was a core part of George Harrisons life – so much so that he named his son Dhani, after the 6th and 7th notes of the Indian music scale. It was Ravi Shankar who motivated George into action and organise the benefit concerts for Bangladesh following the humanitarian disaster caused by the Bhola Cyclone and later heavy flooding in the area. Ravi had family in the area and wanted to do something. The concerts were groundbreaking in terms of the early days of benefit gigs. And proof that Bob Geldof is talking shite when he figures he was the first to do it – all credit due to the tag team of Harrison and Shankar, thank you very much!

When George died of cancer at the age of 58 in 2001, Ravi lost someone he loved very much – the ‘young boy’ who came to him in the 1960s to learn sitar. At the Concert for George in 2002, held on the first anniversary of George’s death, Ravi played a significant role, composing the raga, “Arpan” (which means to give) especially for the occasion.

Ravi was a legend – it was through him that as a 15 year old I began to appreciate world music, and I continued to be amazed at the sounds he produced from his sitar. His legacy lives on. His daughter Anoushka is also a legendary sitar player, at the age of only 31, whilst his other daughter Norah Jones is an acclaimed jazz musician.

14th December – Kenneth Kendall, 88 

BBC’s first and possibly best news reader.

14th December – Donnie Andrews, 58
US criminal who inspired a character in The Wire.

17th December – Daniel Inouye, 88
A Japanese-American who fought for the US in World War Two, and went on to become Senator for Hawaii from 1963 until his death. For the last two and half years of his life, he was Senate President pro tempore (Father of the House, essentially) which left him third in line to the Presidency. He served both on the Watergate and Iran Contra investigations and formed life long friendships with fellow war veterans senators on either side of the political field.

“He served with the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team (composed mostly of Japanese Americans), winning promotion to sergeant and then a field commission as a lieutenant. In the "Lost Battalion" battle in the Vosges mountains, France, he was hit by a bullet which was stopped by two silver dollars he carried in his pocket. But he had lost his lucky charms just before an assault on Colle Musatello, in the Po Valley, Italy, in April 1945. Despite being wounded, he took out the first of three German machine-gun positions pinning down his platoon. He led an attack on the second, before collapsing. Then, as his unit attacked the third, he crawled into position to throw a grenade. As he stood to throw, a German rifle grenade severed his arm, leaving the grenade in the fist. Keeping his troops at a distance, he prised the grenade out, threw it, and finished the attack one-handed. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

The 442nd was thought to be the most decorated regiment in the US army, but racial prejudices often influenced the awarding of the Congressional Medal of Honor. In 2000, after years of campaigning by others, Inouye and 21 other Nisei veterans were presented with the nation's highest military award in a special ceremony by President Bill Clinton.”

Guardian obit

“Though Dole usually moves with the assistance of a wheelchair, he opted to walk, with the assistance of Elizabeth Dole, from the Rotunda entrance to Inouye’s casket. He walked up to the casket, briefly touched it and then saluted Inouye with his left hand. Dole’s right hand was injured during World War II.

Dole and Inouye first met while recovering from wounds during World War II. They met at Percy Jones Army Hospital in Michigan, where they also met future Sen. Philip A. Hart (D-Mich.). While seeking treatment, Dole shared with Inouye his plans to one day run for Congress. As mourners recalled earlier Thursday, Inouye was elected to Congress shortly before Dole, and often joked that he “followed the Dole Plan” by running for office and still managed to beat the former Kansas senator to Capitol Hill.”

Washington Post

17th December – Charlie Adam Snr 50
Footballer father of the former Liverpool player, who himself had played for teams like Partick Thistle in the 80s and early 90s.

22nd December – Mike Scaccia, 47
Guitarist for Ministry.

22nd December – Rip Hawk, 82
Old school pro-wrestler who was a mentor to Ric Flair.

24th December – Jack Klugman, 90 

Quincy actor known for many film and TV roles. One of Lumet’s 12 Angry Men (and the last surviving cast member of that film) as well as appearances in The Odd Couple and four memorable slots on The Twilight Zone. In fact, the only actor to equal his four starring roles on Rod Serlings show was Burgess Meredith. Not bad company. 

24th December – Charles Durning, 89 

American character actor who often found himself singing (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Mrs Santa Clause) or who would wind up playing the straight man in a comedy (as Leslie Neilsens “master of disguise” spy boss in the Bond spoof Spy Hard). Often acclaimed as the finest character actor alive, he was certainly in the mix. 

24th December – Richard Rodney Bennett, 76
British composer. Was responsible for the music from Nicholas and Alexandra, Murder on the Orient Express (1974 edition), Gormenghast, The Aztecs (Doctor Who) and many others.

26th December – Archie Roy, 88
Long time friend of my mum and Duncan Lunan, a Glasgow university academic of great renown, an investigator into the paranormal as science, and a world class astronomer who had an asteroid named after all. A full tribute will appear in the new year from Mandy.

26th December – Fontella Bass, 72
Singer of Rescue Me.

26th December – Gerry Anderson, 83
Magic maker. Along with his (now estranged) wife Slyvia, Gerry Anderson was responsible for the Super-marionette shows of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Captain Scarlet was my favourite. Thunderbirds and Stingray are justified classics. Even the lesser known hits like Joe 90 and Fireball XL5 had their charms. Anderson also did live action SF, creating the cult classics UFO and Space 1999. A pioneering TV man who will be sadly missed. 

27th December – Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, 78
American general in control of the troops during Operation Desert Storm.

27th December – Harry Carey Jr, 91
American actor best known for his association with John Ford.

28th December – Vaclav Drobny, 32
Czech footballer.

28th December – Tommy Keane, 44
Irish footballer.

29th December – William Rees-Mogg, 84
Newspaper mogul.

29th December – Tony Greig, 66
England test cricket captain.

30th December – Sir Irvine Patnick, 83
Pro-Section 28, pro-apartheid, Hillsborough lie spreading, pro-death penalty Tory MP.

Let the facts tell all.

30th December – Mike Hopkins, 53
Two time Oscar winning sound editor on Peter Jackson films.

30th December – Rita Levi-Montalcini, 103
Nobel Prize winner in Medicine for her study of nerve growth factors, a key aid in the fight against cardiovascular illnesses.

“In 1952, Rita Levi-Montalcini found that when tumours from mice were transplanted to chick embryos, they induced potent growth of the chick embryo nervous system . She concluded that the tumour released a nerve growth-promoting factor (NGF) which had a selective action on certain types of nerve cells.

Following this discovery, she began to measure the effect of NGF on cells in culture, and discovered that a sensory or sympathetic nerve cell reacted within 30 seconds of the addition of minute quantities of NGF. Just one billionth part of a gram of NGF per millilitre of culture medium exerted a potent growth-promoting effect.

In 1953 the biochemist Stanley Cohen joined her research group at Washington University, St Louis, and together they purified a nerve growth-promoting extract. Rita Levi-Montalcini’s discovery improved scientific understanding of the processes involved in certain physical malformations and diseases. It has led to improved therapeutic agents and could be central to eventual treatments for diseases such as multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s as well as psychiatric disorders such as depression or anorexia.”

Telegraph obit

The mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, said her death was a great loss "for all of humanity", adding she represented "civic conscience, culture and the spirit of research of our time".

Italy's so-called Lady of the Cells was a Jew who lived through anti-Semitic discrimination and the Nazi invasion and became one of her country's leading scientists. She shared the Nobel prize for medicine in 1986 with US biochemist Stanley Cohen for groundbreaking research. In 2001 Italy made her a senator for life.

Levi-Montalcini kept up an intensive work schedule well into old age. "At 100, I have a mind that is superior – thanks to experience – than when I was 20," she said in 2009.

Guardian obit