Thursday, 28 November 2019

Goodbye, Goodbye, Goodbye...

I spent much of yesterday making Christmas presents [no pictures yet in case intended recipients are reading this] and listening to the radio. The BBC Newsreaders began bulletins with "The death has been announced..." for three different people. 
This morning, it was Gary Rhodes- aged only 59, the lovely British Chef. I have always been fond of GR - in his early days his youthful enthusiasm and quirky spiky hair set him apart from the traditional TV chefs.
Even as he grew older and had his hair cut shorter, he retained the impish spikes. He was a great chef - paving the way for younger men like Jamie O and High F-W. 
I really enjoyed his style- particularly that despite his training in classic French Cuisine, he was really skilled at being a champion of good British food. 
He lived in Gillingham, and Orpington [two towns where I have also lived] and was happily married for many years to Jennie, whom he met at catering college. They have two sons, Sam and George. He had a reputation for being both generous and encouraging to those who he employed and trained. I must revisit some of his recipes. Here's one of his Christmas clips...
Then around lunchtime, the BBC announced the passing of Dr Jonathan Miller. He was 85 - and an awfully clever chap. He'd studied medicine at Cambridge and was a qualified Dr - but also appeared in revues and was part of Cambridge Footlights. After graduation, he worked for a while at a hospital in London - then got together with old friends Alan Bennett, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore to write and perform in the revue "Beyond The Fringe"in the early 1960s.
My Dad found their humour very amusing. Although I was very young, I remember asking why he was weeping tears of laughter as he watched TV- he explained the term 'satire' to me. Miller went on to have a varied career - producing plays and opera, making TV programmes and much more. From a Jewish family, he was an atheist and spoke and wrote much about his 'disbelief' For some years prior to his death, he had been suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. 
Then finally, at 4.30pm, the Media Show began with the news that Clive James had died. He was 80 - and had been suffering for 10 years with terminal cancer. He'd been very open about his diagnosis and faced it with bravery - and the wit, candour and commonsense for which he had become famous. Named 'Vivian' when he was born in 1939, he changed his name to Clive as soon as he could [because he felt that after Gone With The Wind, everyone would only consider Vivian as a girl's name] 
Born in Australia, he'd made his home in the UK - studying at Cambridge alongside other well known Aussies [like Germaine Greer] He was funny and clever, and amazingly gifted with words. He managed the crossover between highbrow and lowbrow effortlessly, making him popular with both the intellectual elite, and the ordinary bloke down the pub. He said his one sadness was that the illness meant he was unable to fly- so he would never get back to see Sydney again. He lived out his days in Cambridge. His daughter gave him a Japanese Maple, and he wrote a thoughtful poem about his impending death and the beauty of the maple.[in full here]
Ever more lavish as the dusk descends 
This glistening illuminates the air, it never ends
Whenever rain comes, it will be there
Beyond my time, but now I take my share
Gary, Jonathan, Clive - RIP - thank you for the pleasure you brought to so many different people in so many different ways.
Update - this morning, the Gentle Author has published a fascinating piece about JM here which is very different to all the other obituaries you may read today... 


  1. I feel like we've had so many deaths of Television institution over the past few years. It's amazing that CJ lived for 10years after terminal diagnosis. I got it wrong who John Miller was. I was thinking of John Mills when CBC asked me who he was. I'm on the 7:21 train again for school but this time I didn't aim for the 6:58 train, just took my time getting to the station.

  2. I am afraid I didn't recognize any of the names, but, may they rest in peace.

    I enjoyed watching the video, though; I always cover the turkey with bacon as shown in that video!

  3. Both Clive and Gary were two of my favourite people in different ways. Gary for his sense of fun in cookery, and Clive for his wonderful writings.

  4. A sad day. Thank you for the link about JM's family history - it was so interesting.

  5. Brilliant programme on last night with Mary Beard in conversation with Clive James (was it leukaemia he died from). I remember seeing a programme about him a couple of years ago and he was sat in his study admiring the cherry tree in his garden and wondering how many seasons he had left to admire it. I felt very sad for him then. He was a brilliantly clever and funny man. I adored Gary Rhodes. I didn't know about Jonathan Miller.

  6. I agree, that was a very interesting piece on Jonathon Miller. Hard to believe despite what he might have said, he was not interested in his forebears for a person of such innate and wide-ranging curiosity. But then even in old age your childhood relationship with your parents sometimes continues to exert a powerful influence.


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