Thursday, 31 December 2015

In Memoriam: November and December 2015

2nd November 2015 – Mike Davies, 79

Welsh tennis player who made it to the Fourth Round of Wimbledon in 1954. In the doubles, he reached the 1960 Wimbledon final, the same year he was ranked British Number One. He was later banned for turning professional.

“Davies, still the only Welsh player to have reached a Wimbledon final, had learnt to play the game on the municipal courts at Cwmdonkin Park in his native Swansea. Discovered in junior competitions by Fred Perry, he became Britain’s number one player in 1956 and, from 1955 to 1960, won 15 of 22 Davis Cup singles and nine of 15 doubles (with Billy Knight, Roger Becker or Bobby Wilson). In 1960 he and Wilson reached the final of the Men’s Doubles at Wimbledon, where they were cheered on by the crowd but beaten in straight sets by the Mexican Rafael Osuna and the American Denis Ralston. Davies was never popular with the powers-that-be in the Lawn Tennis Association, however. “It was mutual,” he recalled later. “They couldn’t stand the sight of me and I couldn’t stand the sight of them. End of story.” Davies had good reason for his hostility, though he admitted that he had sometimes been his own worst enemy. In his autobiography Tennis Rebel (1961), he recalled that as a teenager he had hated losing so much that he was prone to throwing John McEnroe-style tantrums. This outraged the LTA, who, he claimed, wanted “little Lord Fauntleroys who would say 'Yes-sir-no-sir-three-bags-full’ at the drop of a hat”. As a result, the “Cwmdonkin Rebel” was dropped from the LTA’s training scheme and had his funding withdrawn.”
Telegraph obit

2nd November 2015 – Peter Donaldson, 70

BBC radio newsreader.

2nd November 2015 – Roy Dommett, 82

British rocket scientist.

“As a member of the guided weapons group at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE), Farnborough, Dommett was a key figure in the development of nuclear missiles in Britain. He was convinced that the principle of deterrence was morally right. “We’re not believers in using nuclear weapons,” he said. “We’re actually believers in not using nuclear weapons. It is a deterrent.” He started out in the 1950s at a time when Britain’s contribution to the Space Age was the building of rockets, an endeavour which had its origins in the final year of the war and the study of German V2 rockets. Among the experimental projects Dommett worked on with his colleagues at the RAE – all eventually cancelled – were the Blue Streak intermediate range ballistic missile, the Black Knight rocket and the Black Arrow carrier rocket.”
Telegraph obit

2nd November 2015 – Stephen Hancock, 89

Actor who played Ernest Bishop in Coronation Street.

2nd November 2015 – Colin Welland, 81

Actor who was the teacher in Kes, and who later won an Oscar for his script for Chariots of Fire.

“Welland was a champion of British talent and complained about a lack of investment in it. His own reputation was based on his versatility as an actor and writer in theatre, television and film. As the English teacher Mr Farthing, in Ken Loach’s film Kes (1969), he won a Bafta for best supporting actor. He became a popular figure after three years (1962-65) in the television police series Z Cars. It was, he recalled, “written by the best writers and had the best directors” – including Loach. Welland’s reputation grew alongside the rise of the political left in the 1970s; his views were inspired by a personal background that he saw as limiting and unfair.”
Dennis Barker, Guardian obit

3rd November 2015 – Paul Rose, 79

Labour MP for Manchester Blackley from 1964 to 1979. He was later a patron of the British Humanist Association. He was known for being strongly anti-National Front.

“Since the meetings four or five years ago between the Home Office and the manufacturers of fireworks, the manufacturers have been dragging their feet? May I suggest that fireworks manufacturers be invited to visit the burns unit of the Booth Hall Hospital in my constituency in order to see the results of some of these terrible accidents?”
Paul Rose, on firework sales legisalation, House of Commons, 20 November 1969, recorded in Hansard

“The Opposition, by putting down this Motion, today, are distracting people from far more urgent issues. I think I know why they are doing it. We saw 966 in the trade figures the other day a surplus of £12 million which means, taking into account invisibles, a £600 million surplus in favour of this country. Hon. Members opposite will not be able to win the next election on economic issues. They cannot change the Government's record. Therefore, there are some hon. Members who, like Governor Wallace, of Alabama, think "We can run the law and order ticket or the immigration ticket" or one of those emotive issues which appeal to the basest instincts of some of our people. The technique is clever. While the Leader of the Opposition and his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone, for whom I have enormous admiration and whom I know to be a man of humanity and charity, stand there as liberals, at the same time we have such slogans as "If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour" or, in Belfast, "Have you any Roman Catholics in your street?", or in my constituency we have the issue of hanging. Therefore, we have, on the one hand, the face of liberalism and, on the other, the primitive face of terrorism. That is why we have this Motion of censure.”
Paul Rose, on opposition motion to bring back capital punishment, House of Commons, 15 December 1969, recorded in Hansard

4th November 2015 – Brown McMaster, 66

Former chairman of Partick Thistle, and president of the Scottish Football League from 2007 until 2009 when his health began to decline. McMaster’s first stint at the head of the mighty Jags came in tumultuous times. Thistle had gotten themselves into financial insecurity, and, in fact, were on the verge of closing entirely when Forfar Athletic cancelled a small debt owed (£40k) which gave Thistle a small reprieve. McMaster had resigned from the board in February 1997 as vice-chairman at what he saw as the financial mismanagement, but the dire situation led to him becoming chairman in November 1997.

“"I am the second largest shareholder and have a fair level of financial commitment to the club but I left the boardroom in February and since then my only involvement has been paying my way in to watch the team on a Saturday. But with the situation worsening, I contacted the club again and Jim has asked me to come back as chairman. He wants to take a back seat and won't be hard to deal with if someone makes him an offer. But he won't sell to anyone who wants to come in and bulldoze the place. We are determined to survive, but we are losing pounds 10,000 a week and we need to bring in that amount every week from now on. I have brought in a company doctor - a team of chartered accountants - to see what can be done as far as the creditors we have are concerned. They will deal with everything that has happened in the past, and I will deal with what happens in the future." Brown McMaster, Daily Record, Nov 25 1997

McMaster’s first decision to make sure all weekly wages were paid (even out of his own pocket if necessary), whilst, unlike the previous administration, proving willing to consult the fans. The “Save the Jags” campaign was in full swing, as fans own money kept the club going. An early hoped money takeover was scuppered by the combined forces of one of our tabloids with dog whistle tactics, and one of our infamous demagogue politicians, both of whom (who will remain anonymous) tried to use the fact the businessman involved was Asian for political capital. Heavy turnouts and Save the Jags funds kept the club going (despite the disdain of one Jim Traynor, moaning about the harsh realities of life...)

By 1998, Thistle were away from the brink, but relegated to Division Two. In fact, in 1999, it took a 1-0 win over Forfar on the penultimate day of the season to prevent Thistle falling into Division 3! However, in March 1999, Brown McMaster had pulled a rabbit out of the hat. A sweary tetchy middle aged rabbit from Whitburn, admittedly. John Lambie had been Thistle manager for two spells previously, and under his management, Thistle went from the nether regions of Division 2, to promotion to the SPL in 2002.

As the fates would have it, Thistle wrapped up the First Division title while the Second was still all to play for, so for a few short weeks had both the First and Second Division trophies. McMaster’s response was to bring them into the crowd!

McMaster returned as Thistle chairman in 2005. His hopes had been to fully finish off the club debt by selling part of the disused South bank terracing to be used as a family stand, offices and flats. The expanded Firhill plan was rejected 9-7 by the appropriate Glasgow council planning department, after the first stage – demoltion of the derelict stand – had been approved.

He was a thoroughly decent chap who, even when making decisions you’d disagree with, clearly acted solely in what he thought would be the best interests of the club. There are fans who tell of hours they spent listening to McMaster talk in great detail of everything he wanted to achieve with the Jags.

When my Granda Bob died in 2003, it was McMaster who dedicated their next home game, against Hibernian, to him. It happened to fall on the day of the funeral, and, after coming back from 2-0 down, Thistle lost to a last minute own goal. It was, as everyone agreed, exactly what Bob would have expected!

Thistle dedicated their home game with Inverness in November 2015 to their late chairman. Inverness, naturally, took the lead early on, and Thistle, in their usual dramatic style, won it in injury time with a Ryan Stevenson free kick. “You will not see a worse goal than that this season” bemoaned Inverness manager John Hughes. I suppose that depends on your point of view!

Besides, it’s probably exactly what McMaster would have expected.

4th November 2015 – Rene Girard, 91

French historian, philosopher and anthropologist who followed in the traditions of Claude Levi-Strauss, and whose theory of mimetic desire became a staple in sociological thinking. A member of the Academie Francaise, he studied his PHD at Indiana and went to work for Stanford.

“Set out in his first major work, Deceit, Desire and the Novel (1966), the theory holds that human beings learn by imitating those around them , wanting to have what others have. This “mimetic desire” operates pervasively in all cultures, at once reinforcing social ties, but also fomenting envy, rivalry and conflict. “Mimesis,” Girard wrote, “is an unconscious form of imitation that invariably leads to competition, and desire is the most virulent mimetic pathogen.” The idea was hardly new , but Girard went on to examine how societies at different times had sought to accommodate this destructive urge, while keeping the community together.”
Telegraph obit

4th November 2015 – Kenneth Gilbert, 84

Recognisable TV character actor. He was Augustus in The Caesars, and made guest appearances in The Adventures of Black Beauty, The Protectors and On the Buses. In the Doctor Who story The Seeds of Doom, he played Richard Dunbar, the double crossing civil servant. Later in his career, he showed up in House of Cards as Education Secretary Harold Earle, another rival removed from the picture by Ian Richardson’s Francis Urquhart.

4th November 2015 – Melissa Mathison, 65

Script-writer of ET. She also wrote the script for the Kick the Can part of the Twilight Zone film, and the script for the upcoming adaptation of The BFG.

 6th November 2015 – Bobby Campbell, 78

Former Liverpool and Portsmouth footballer. He later became manager of Chelsea, unable to stop them being relegated in 1988 but won the Second Division the next season at a canter, and finished thme in 5th place in 1990, a great result in those pre-Abramovich days.

7th November 2015 – Yitzhak Navon, 94

Former President of Israel.

7th November 2015 – Gunnar Hansen, 68

Icelandic actor who was best known for his iconic appearance as Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

9th November 2015 – Andy White, 85

Session drummer who performed with The Beatles on Love Me Do.

10th November 2015 – Helmut Schmidt, 96

German Chancellor from 1974 to 1982.

“The job that opened the way to the top came in July 1972, when Brandt appointed Schmidt to the double ministry of finance and economics (normally separate). Fortunately, the heavy load was his for only four months as Brandt’s majority ebbed away in the great controversy over Ostpolitik, or detente with the Soviet block, including East Germany. But the constitutional upheaval that Brandt had to engineer in order to be able to call Bonn’s first premature election was the prelude to a smashing SPD victory in November, the greatest in its history. Europe east and west rejoiced to see the West Germans voting for peace and stability.Brandt sent Schmidt back to finance (without economics, which went to the FDP coalition partners), enabling him to distinguish himself on the world stage in the oil crisis a year later, proving once more that he was at his best in a crisis. Thus when Brandt suddenly resigned over the discovery of the East German “spy in the chancellery” in May 1974, there was only one plausible successor. A genuinely shocked and reluctant Schmidt was sworn in, but had the wit to leave Brandt in the party chair to shield him from the left.”
Dan van der Vat, Guardian obit

“A period of strong leadership followed, with West Germany playing a valued role shouldering responsibility in Europe and the Alliance. With Schmidt’s advocacy of Nato’s “dual track” negotiate-and-deploy decision on medium-range nuclear missiles, Bonn was setting the pace in defence. With the birth of the European Monetary System (or “Snake in the Tunnel”) in 1978, it led in finance. Furthermore, in 1977 Schmidt’s reputation for getting results was enhanced by the successful storming by German commandos of a Lufthansa airliner held by Baader-Meinhof terrorists at Mogadishu in Somalia.”
Telegraph obit

Despite poor health – he needed a pacemaker in the early 1980s – Schmidt lived a long life and carried on chain smoking into old age. In 2013, as there was calls to ban menthol cigarettes, it became known that Schmidt had stockpiled nearly 40, 000 of them!

11th November 2015 – Phil Taylor, 61
Original drummer for Motorhead.

12th November 2015 – Marton Fulop, 32

Hungarian goalkeeper who played for Manchester City and Sunderland. He died after a battle with cancer.

12th November 2014 – Lucian Balan, 56

Footballer who won the 1986 European Cup with Steaua Bucharest.

14th November 2015 – Warren Mitchell, 89

BAFTA and Olivier Award winning actor. From Hancock’s Half Hour to Gormenghast, Mitchell’s 50-year acting career was long and varied, but will remain instantly recognisable as racist grumpy old man Alf Garnett in Till Death Us Do Part, and In Sickness and in Health. That the openly Jewish socialist Mitchell became synonymous with his racist counterpart is perhaps ironic, but Mitchell saw from the start that the scripts pointed out all the hypocrises of Garnett. He repulsed in the idea that National Front types saw the character as a hero, and indeed, invited him to their rallies.

Beyond Garnett, Warren Mitchell was an acclaimed theatre actor. So acclaimed in fact, that Arthur Miller himself said that Mitchell’s Willy Loman was the standard bearer for that play. He was at home as easily with Pinter as the Comedy Playhouse. He starred opposite Patrick Macnee and The Beatles. He remained loyal to Till Death script writer Johnny Speight, however, declaring that Speight had a genius for writing that was overlooked.

“His Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman had by then already won him praise from the critics and their award as actor of the year. “Instead of trying to turn him into a crumbling Titan,” wrote Michael Billington in the Guardian, “he presents us with a baggy-trousered shrimp of a man whose very presence evokes the dust and fatigue of the road.” In the case of his King Lear, whom he played fittingly in his 70th year, it seems to have been the other way round. “Such a big, powerful perfomance,” noted Robin Thornber, “that he makes most of his fellow actors look like walk-ons.” The production, originally at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, followed by a run at the Hackney Empire, also prompted Mitchell to talk about his own family.”
Philip Purser, Guardian obit

14th November 2015 – Nick Bockwinkel, 80

Former Wrestling World Champion. He ended Verne Gagne’s seven year AWA world title reign in 1975, and would go on to hold the belt for nine years and four reigns, before finally losing the belt to Curt Henning in 1987. Regarded as one of the smartest men to become a wrestler, Bockwinkel’s sudden descent into Alzheimer’s was particularly cruel. A WWE Hall of Famer, Bockwinkel was considered one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.

“During his heyday as one of the most articulate heels of all time, Nick Bockwinkel, who died Saturday at the age of 80, had a secret weapon, and for those familiar with his eloquent discourses on the state of the world during interviews, it shouldn't surprise: it was a dictionary. Well, actually it wasn't one dictionary, but many. He had a little notebook that he wrote down interesting words into, and began to learn them and their meanings. "I used to use the four, five or six syllable words as best I could," expounded Bockwinkel in The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels. "If I ran across one I didn't know, I had a little dictionary. I would have this little dictionary, with 70 or 80 words, that I would always be perusing. I had it with me all the time. Automatically, some of these words just starting coming to me in my interviews because I was familiar with them."”
Greg Oliver and Steve Johnson, Slam Canoe obit

15th November 2015 – PF Sloan, 70

Singer-songwriter who wrote “Eve of Destruction.”

15th November 2015 – Saeed Jaffrey, 86

Actor best known for his roles in Gangsters and Gandhi.

“When Jaffrey arrived in Britain, non-white actors were still a rarity and the theatre world was at a loss as to how to deal with them. Slowly his quality became recognised, even though the stage parts he was offered often depended on his ethnicity rather than his considerable professional abilities. It is not surprising that much of Jaffrey’s early UK work was in the BBC World Service, where his splendid speaking voice and his pure Urdu were invaluable.On television he would give impressive performances in the series Gangsters (1976-78) and Tandoori Nights (1985-87). But the turning point came through film. Cast in The Wilby Conspiracy (1975), he became firm friends with Michael Caine, who suggested that John Huston cast him in The Man Who Would Be King (1975). Landing the part of Billy Fish, in the film starring Sean Connery and Caine, made Jaffrey instantly recognisable and bankable. Not long afterwards, he met and in 1980 married Jennifer Sorrell, who left the BBC, where she worked, to become a casting agent, and stabilised both Jaffrey’s emotional and professional life.”
Naseem Khan, Guardian obit

16th November 2015 – Michael C Gross, 70

Film producer behind the Ghostbusters series, who also designed the famous logo.

“His first cover, for the November “nostalgia” issue, mimicked a Norman Rockwell painting, with an old-time barber giving a buzz cut to a hapless hippie wearing beads and a peace medallion. In January 1973, for the “death” issue, the cover showed a hand pointing a revolver at the head of an adorable black and white dog, its eyes swiveling apprehensively toward the barrel. The cover line read, “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog.” In 2005, the American Society of Magazine Editors ranked that design seventh on its list of the 40 best magazine covers of the previous 40 years. The “Ghostbusters” logo, a blobby white figure bursting from a red universal “No” sign, came about when the film’s producers wanted to print a teaser poster at a time when the studio had not yet secured the rights to the name. Mr. Gross, an art director and associate producer on the film, worked with one of his artists, Brent Boates, to generate an image that would get the idea of the film across without actually using a title. The ghost soon became one of the most recognizable and most imitated logos in popular culture.”
William Grimes, NY Times obit

18th November 2015 – Jonah Lomu, 40

A destroyer of a rugby player who played for New Zealand between 1994 and 2001. He played in two Rugby World Cups, terrorising the defences of every other rugby playing nation on the planet. A human bulldozer, he could wipe out seven or eight men at once with charging runs that were unplayable. He holds the try record in the World Cup, but was unable to win the big one, when an incredible French comeback in the 1999 World Cup semifinal held New Zealand at bay. By 2003, when he was only 28, his career was on the wane, as serious kidney illness came to the fore.

20th November 2015 – Keith Michell, 88

Actor best known for the title role in The Six Wives of Henry VIII.

“Michell came to monopolise one of British history’s favourite subjects for dramatisation. Such was the charm of this burly, sturdy, square-set, square-jawed, mellifluous upstart from the Antipodes that when he revived Shakespeare’s King Henry VIII at the Chichester Festival in 1991 he could with justice claim to have made the part of the much-married monarch his own for a quarter of a century. Even recent high profile performances by Damian Lewis, in Wolf Hall, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, in The Tudors, have failed to dispossess him of the character entirely. Michell’s first Henry appeared in a West End comedy imported from Paris, Jean Canolle’s The King’s Mare (Garrick, 1966). The famous BBC television series, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, followed in 1972, and later that year its feature film spin-off Henry VIII and His Six Wives (played by Frances Cuka, Charlotte Rampling, Jane Asher, Jenny Bos, Lynne Frederick and Barbara Leigh-Hunt). Some two decades’ later he revived Shakespeare’s play. And in 1996 he played Henry a final time in the television film The Prince and the Pauper (he was by this time 67).”
Telegraph obit

21st November 2015 – Peter Dimmock, 94

BBC executive. He was an early pioneer in outside broadcasting for the BBC, covering the 1948 London Olympics and being in charge of the Queens Coronation coverage. As the presenter of Sportsview, he introduced Grandstand, and took up a pivotal role in the creation of the BBC Sports department. The creation of the Sports Personality of the Year, and Match of the Day, had his fingerprints over them. During WW2, he was a flying instructor in the RAF.

““This was television’s Coronation,” agreed one critic, “intimate, detailed, never a step wrong.” The accolade really belonged to Dimmock, who had spent a year planning coverage of the day and, with technical skill and stylish aplomb, had succeeded in capturing the majestic drama as it unfolded live in front of a watching audience of more than 20 million in Britain — nearly half the population — and many millions more worldwide. But the broadcast had nearly not happened at all, for when the BBC first formally applied to the Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk, for permission to cover the Coronation on live television , the answer was a flat No. Churchill, then prime minister, asked why the public should have as good a view as he would. At 32, it was Dimmock who won the authorities over with a technical demonstration inside Westminster Abbey. He showed how unobtrusive coverage could be, with lighting at an acceptable level and the television cameras inside the Abbey virtually invisible.”
Telegraph obit

22nd November 2015 – Hazel Adair, 95

Scriptwriter who created Compact and Crossroads.

“In 1964, she and Peter Ling devised Crossroads based on an idea he had after driving past a board advertising the opening of a motel, an American phenomenon then new to Britain. Reg Watson, a producer at the ITV company ATV, which had studios in Birmingham, had been trying to persuade his boss, Lew Grade, to let him make a soap like the US daytime serials for five years and was finally given the green light. Adair and Ling presented them with The Midland Road, following the lives of staff and guests at a motel in the fictional village of King’s Oak, outside Birmingham, run by its widowed owner with her son and daughter.”
Anthony Hayward, Guardian obit

22nd November 2015 – Robin Stewart, 69
Actor who appeared in Greyfriars Bobby, Cromwell and The Legend of the 7 golden Vampires, but was best known for his role as Mike in Bless This House.

23rd November 2015 – Douglass North, 95

Economic historian who won a nobel prize with Robert Fogel in 1993 for his use of quantitative measures to describe economics.

25th November 2015 – Elmo Williams, 102

Film editor whose Oscar winning work on High Noon worked so well to give that film its nervous edge throughout. He later worked on Tora! Tora! Tora! He also worked on The Longest Day.

“Williams began his editing career in his mid-twenties on a series of Anna Neagle features, both in Britain and America, such as Nurse Edith Cavell (1939) and No, No, Nanette (1940). During the war he was commissioned into the Specialist Corps and assigned to edit military instructional films with titles such as How to Survive If Shot Down in the Arctic and How to Pack Parachutes. After the war he returned to Hollywood, working on several films noirs directed by Richard Fleischer (including Follow Me Quietly, 1949). After winning his Oscar for High Noon Williams briefly turned to directing (one of his films was The Tall Texan, 1953, a western starring Lloyd Bridges ). He returned to cutting duties for Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) which earned him a second Oscar nomination. In 1962 he worked on the mammoth shoot of The Longest Day, produced by Darryl Zanuck. Williams, an associate producer and second unit director on the film, was responsible for coordinating the battle scenes. The following year he was involved in editing another 20th Century Fox blockbuster, Cleopatra.”
Telegraph obit

23rd November 2015 – Cynthia Robinson, 71

Musician who played the trumpet in Sly and the Family Stone.

25th November 2015 – Chris Martin, 42

Civil servant who was the Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister from December 2011 until his death. He rose from a young position in the Treasury under Kenneth Clarke, to one of the more senior positions in the civil service before being struck down with cancer.

“It was Martin who prepared Cameron for his appearance before the Leveson inquiry in June 2012, at which the Prime Minister faced awkward questions about his relationship with journalists allegedly implicated in illegal phone-hacking, and about his handling of the government's approach to a bid by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to take over the broadcaster BSkyB. Later the same year the unflappable Martin helped Cameron field questions about "Plebgate", in which the then Conservative Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell was embroiled in a dispute with a police officer at the gates of Downing Street. Martin was also one of what has been described as the "Golden Triangle" of senior officials to whom government and the Queen would have had to turn, should Scotland, in the referendum of September 2014, have voted for independence from the UK. The others were the Queen's Private Secretary, Sir Christopher Geidt, and the Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service Sir Jeremy Heywood.It was a mark of royal appreciation of his role that Martin was appointed CVO a few days before his death; he had been made CB in 2014.”
Anne Keleny, Independent obit

26th November 2015 – Tommy Gilbert, 75
Territories wrestling star who was the NWA Southern champion in 1978. His two sons became wrestlers, but personal issues prevented them becoming the bigger stars their talents deserved, his son Eddie helping to found ECW.

28th November 2015 – Gerry Byrne, 77

English international defender who played for Liverpool between 1957 and 1969. He won the league title in 1964 and 1966, and was a member of the 1966 World Cup winning squad. He also won the 1965 FA Cup, despite playing nearly the entire final with a broken collar bone.

“Shankly detected talent in Byrne where his previous managers, Don Welsh and Phil Taylor, had not. He was quickly taken off the transfer list and, with Moran injured, eventually found himself catapulted by the manager into the regular side. Within a year, Byrne had become an integral part of the new-look team that won the Second Division championship in 1961/62, and he remained one of Liverpool’s most important players as they went on to win First Division titles in 1963/64 and 1965/66, along with the 1965 FA Cup. He also scored Liverpool’s first ever goal in Europe (in 1964) and played in the final of the 1966 European Cup Winners’ Cup, which Liverpool lost 2-1 to Borussia Dortmund in Glasgow.”
Peter Mason, Guardian obit

30th November 2015 – Shigeru Mizuki, 93

Japanese horror manga legend.

“Mizuki was admired by generations of Japanese animators and won fans abroad with his style, which combined a love of the grotesque with sympathy and breezy humor.His most popular work, about the adventures of a one-eyed ghost-boy named Kitaro, spawned an empire of live-action and animated films, a musical and five television series — a reboot every decade from the 1960s to the 2000s. The series’ battles between fantastic creatures were the template for later Japanese fare, like Pok√©mon.But Mr. Mizuki also took on serious subjects in graphic form, including the barbarities of war, drawn in part from his own harrowing combat experiences in World War II, and the rise of Adolf Hitler. His life was the subject of films and acclaimed autobiographical works.”
Jonathan Soble, NY Times obit

2nd December 2015 – Gabriele Ferzetti, 90

Italian actor who appeared in The Night Porter, Inchon and Once Upon a Time in the West. He is perhaps best known as Diana Rigg’s mob boss father in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

2nd December 2015 – Anthony Valentine, 76

Actor who was the main antagonist in Colditz – Major Mohn. He also played Edward Woodward’s main rival, Toby Meres, in Callan. He also had early roles in The Avengers, Thriller and the lead role in Raffles.

3rd December 2015 – Scott Weiland, 48

Lead singer of the Stone Temple Pilots.
4th December 2015 – Robert Loggia, 85

Actor who appeared in Scarface and Independence Day.

5th December 2015 – Hack Meyers, 41
Former ECW wrestler.

5th December 2015 – William McIlvanney, 79

Scottish writer. His Laidlaw series invented Tartan Noir, and all Scottish crime fiction which has followed in its wake, from Taggart to Ian Rankin, has followed in its footsteps and tropes. He wrote and narrated Only A Game?, He was also a regular columnist for The Scotsman.

“His first two novels, Remedy is None and A Gift from Nessus, published in the late 1960s, were praised by reviewers and won prizes, but sold poorly. His third novel, Docherty (1975), a powerful and moving evocation of a declining mining community, was an immediate success. Seen by some as a Scottish Sons and Lovers – though Tam Docherty, with his sharp, reductive sense of humour, is a more attractive character than the father in Lawrence’s novel – it won the Whitbread Prize, even though some English readers found the robust Scots dialogue difficult or off-putting, and it established McIlvanney’s reputation. Docherty has been regularly named one of the best Scottish novels of the second half of the 20th century. It was therefore a surprise when he followed it with his first Laidlaw novel – an unwelcome surprise to some of his admirers. One teacher, encountered in a Glasgow bar, even told him he had disgraced himself by writing a crime novel. Not surprisingly, he didn’t agree.”
Telegraph obit

“McIlvanney, too, sought grace in his writing – not a word is wasted, each sentence measured, poetic and perfect. He was a man of tremendous empathy; everyone he met probably felt they were in the presence of someone who could either understand them or at least wanted to and would strive to. Because of this, he was a great man as well as a great writer. Let loose in the social laboratory of Glasgow, he found beauty in its hard men – as well as measures of respect and even romanticism in their relationships – no matter how outwardly bitter or inwardly doomed.”
Ian Rankin, Guardian

“Laidlaw’s enduring gift is the legitimacy it gave to a new generation of writers. It may seem unconscionable in today’s thriving age of Scottish cultural expression, but McIlvanney swept away old stigmas and showed it was possible to imbue popular fiction with the sandblasted language of the everyday and literary ambition.”
Martyn McLaughlin, recorded in The Scotsman, 7 Dec 2015

“Dead reckoning between probabilities tells me I met Willie in 1983. It was our first and last interview. One part of the sentence is uncomplicated: you don’t interview friends. After the first time, I left it to others to attempt trial-by-McIlvanney. That would be the simple part. It took us three days, that hour of chat. Later, three days became shorthand: the Lost Weekend. We were both shamefaced about it, intermittently, even while “the interview” receded, pub by restaurant by pub, like the last coach of a train we were never going to catch. It is routine now to say Willie was not “prolific”. There’s a flaw in the claim. Words and sentences and paragraphs germinated within him like fields of Ayrshire barley. Whether you heard him speak for three days or five minutes, you knew that words, examined words, tested words, were never a problem.”
Ian Bell: William McIlvanney wrote us, and every word he committed to the page will stand, Herald 7 December 2015

“It was Glasgow on a Friday night, the city of the stare.”
William McIlvanney, The Papers of Tony Veitch

6th December 2015 – Holly Woodlawn, 69

Actress who was known for her connections to Andy Warhol. She was an LGBT rights pioneer, and is referenced in the Lou Reed song Walk on the Wild Side.

6th December 2015 – Nicholas Smith, 81
Actor who was best known for his role as Mr Rumbold in Are You Being Served.

10th December 2015 – Ian Bell, 59

Award winning Scottish journalist who worked for the Herald. He was also editor of The Observer, and wrote Robert Louis Stevenson’s biography Dreams of Exile. I figure a few examples of his work would show his way with words, his wit, and his intelligence, and why he was mourned from all quarters of Scottish society.

“The difference between resounding oratory and a great speech is that the latter depends on coherent argument. The former can get by, and is sometimes better off, without it. You don’t have to go back to Cicero to find phrase-makers playing fast and loose with the truth: that’s politics. Benn did something else: in place of argument, he gave the Commons gallery emotion, otherwise known as “passion”. So said the reviews, at any rate. In practical terms, he simply made it a great deal harder for Labour to take on the Government if and when things go wrong in Syria. Politically speaking, he reduced a divided official opposition to fragments.”
Ian Bell: the dismantling of Hilary Benn’s war rhetoric, Herald 6 December 2015

“There are obvious things to be said about the need for opposition. There is something to add about the Scottish habit of turning a dominant party into a political establishment. From 1964 until the dawn of the 21st century, Labour occupied the role as though by right, without much talk of a one-party state. The edifice began to crumble with the Holyrood elections of 2003. It was reduced to rubble on 7 May. Yet isn't someone supposed to represent the 50% who didn't vote for the Scottish National Party? Who says it has to be Labour? At Westminster, with 232 of 650 Commons seats, the party is still entitled to claim the loser's prize. In Scotland, the only flickering pulses running through the cadaver come from the sputtering pocket dynamos of Unionism. Despite their racket, despite the grievance politics of those who detest a world turned upside down, this is not a renewable resource.”
Ian Bell: If Scottish Labour wants to rise from the grave, it should first think about the Scotland Bill, Herald 20 June 2015

“Meanwhile, out in the ether, Labour people were lost in bathetic, convoluted arguments to explain how their failure was all the fault of the SNP. The night had hardly begun and it was all over. Finally, another tweet of mine: "We're watching Labour in Scotland die before our eyes". Twitter doesn't allow footnotes. I didn't mean to sound surprised. I meant that the spectacle, the sight and sound of it, had alone won its chapter in the history books. Then they began to fall, like ninepins. "Kilmarnock is annihilation," was my version of a Twitter obituary for Cathy Jamieson's career. "Douglas Alexander destroyed" was the most I could say of a shadow Foreign Secretary. Kilmarnock, Paisley, Falkirk, Glenrothes: huge swings, vast majorities swept away, an entire political tradition eradicated from the landscape. Twitter is not great for nuance. It copes well, however, with sheer astonishment. The new medium was witness to the destruction of an old way of political life. It is not history's preferred vehicle, but in the early hours it glimpsed history well enough.”
Ian Bell: An earthquake? An avalanche? The political world titled on its axis, Herald 8 May 2015

10th December 2015 – Arnold Peralta, 26
Honduran football player who played for Rangers. Shot dead in his homeland.

15th December 2015 – Margaret Miller, 105

Glasgow charity volunteer who set up the The Lightburn WRVS Harmony Club in the 1970s, and had worked in the Women’s Voluntary Service in World War Two.

“More than 40 years ago Margaret also set up a club for stroke victims, called The Lightburn WRVS Harmony Club, the first of its kind. A consultant, Professor Bernard Isaacs, wanted a service for patients who had finished medical treatment but still needed support. Margaret recounted a story about a woman she found crying in a newly furbished restaurant because, unable to lift her feet off the floor, she thought she’d suffered a second stroke. It turned out that the static from her stockings was sticking her to the freshly laid nylon carpet. “She was like a new woman when we got her home,” Margaret said. The club still gathers every Monday afternoon in a community hall to share company, songs, games and trips. Asked what kept her going, Margaret said: “I get as much out of it as they do. They are more like a family than a club.” Two years ago, the 103-year-old was presented with her second British Empire Medal by Lord Provost Sadie Docherty. When she received it, modest Margaret said: “I just don’t think I deserve all this fuss. I don’t think I have done anything special, really.””
Caroline Wilson, Evening Times obit

16th December 2015 – Jim Dotson, 49

Former head of security for the WWF. His looming presence was always recognisable in 1990s events or TV, being the only man to pull off a fanny pack and a leather cap and still look like he meant business. Big Jim, as it even said on his security tag, was well respected by fans and wrestlers alike, and had the ability to snuff out most trouble two steps before it arose. WWF owner Vince McMahon had wanted Dotson to move into in-ring competition, but Dotson didn’t want to move from his own job. He had minor on-screen roles, including as a “witness” to the “controversy” around the 2000 Royal Rumble match. Alas, around 2001, Dotson started suffering serious health issues and had to retire completely.

16th December 2015 – Peter Dickinson, 88

Childrens writer best known for The Changes trilogy, a favourite of mums in her childhood.

16th December 2015 – Adam Roth 57

Guitarist for the Del Fuegos.

17th December 2015 – Lizmark,66

Wrestler who was massive in his homeland of Mexico.

18th December 2015 – Greville Janner, 87

Former MP for Leicester who was in the news recently as being found unfit to face trial due to advanced dementia.

19th December 2015 – Nigel Buxton, 91
Former travel editor for the Sunday Telegraph. He became known to a younger audience as Baaad Dad in the Adam and Joe Show.

22nd December – Don Leaver, 86

TV director. He was behind the helms for 20 episodes of The Avengers (including fan favourite The House That Jack Built). He also directed episodes of Bergerac, Lovejoy and The Protectors.

23rd December 2015 – Don Howe, 80
English footballer who played for Arsenal and for England in the 1958 World Cup. He later managed Arsenal in the 1980s.

25nd December 2015 – George Clayton Johnson, 86

SF writer who co-wrote Logan’s Run. He was also screenwriter for the first episode of Star Trek, and for some marvellous episodes of The Twilight Zone. Best of them was probably Nothing in the Dark, in which a scared old woman fends off the fear of dying, and the imminent demolition of her home, but has to play good Samaritan to an injured policeman (a very young Robert Redford) and finds there is, literally, nothing in the dark to fear.

26th December 2015 – Darren Tandy

Tennis player who became the coach of James Ward.

27th December 2015 – Haskell Wexler, 93

Oscar winning cinematographer who worked on One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

29th December 2015 – John Bradbury, 62
Drummer for The Specials.

29th December 2015 – Pavel Srnicek, 47
Czech Republic international goalkeeper who played for Newcastle United during the 1990s.

29th December 2015 – Joan Bader, 94
Widow of Sir Douglas Bader.

31st December 2015 – Howard Davis Jr, 59

Boxer who won the Gold medal at the 1976 Olympics.