The Telegraph wavered on Stotty (Richard Stott, obit, this week). But only a little bit. Most of them - Revel's in particular - got Richard spot on. That was the man I knew, the one I was reading about.
Obits on journalists are extremely difficult.
How many times have you to been called after a death or when a leaving ceremony is close and asked for anecdotes on one of your best friends and can think of none? Plenty of times I'll bet. Or the ones that you do come up with are very weak and not entertaining.
A little creep from our business wrote a poisonous obit of one of our colleagues fairly recently.
He had obviously never met the guy. Knew everything tenth hand and, it seemed to many, went to his keyboard only for the money.
Journalists' obits are usually the most peppered with inaccuracies, resurrect false accounts of heroisim and genius and generally create a fantasy character out of a pretty ordinary bloke.
No names - but quite recently one of ours just well enough known to have obits in the nationals had an entirely new personality created for himself.
He was quite definitely turned into the greatest journalist of the twentieth century. The Mail, as good as said this.
If his name hadn't appeared in one or two of the pieces I personally would only just have recognised the guy (a close friend) they were writing about. Brian Hitchen and I agreed on this at the time.
That might be the definitive test of a good obit.
Would you know the person who had died if his name didn't appear anywhere and all you had was the text?
Beware putting too much faith in obits of our kind. Or anybody's for that matter.
My father kept a diary for 30 years.
When he died the obit in the West Wales Guardian said he had kept a dairy for 30 years. - John Edwards
You've really got something started here. Great stuff.
I worked on the Daily Mail in Scotland in the sixties and ended up on the Enquirer in Florida by way of Bermuda, Canada, Hong Kong etc.
We're now organizing the wake for the Weekly World News. It will be in the Banshee Room of Brogues Irish Pub in Lake Worth, Florida, Sunday September 2 at 3 pm. There will be food, drink, music and much tall tale telling. All hacks and partners welcome...
Looking forward to the next edition of Gentlemen Ranters... - Jim McCandlish
It was all (Richard Stott obit, this week) about real tabloid journalism, not bullshit about Big Brother tossers and celebrities that no-one has ever heard of.
And we had a lot of fun.
I think we all miss it. – Geoff Sutton
Revel Barker (Gentlemen, that reminds me, last week) brought to mind Francis Chichester sailing up the Thames to Greenwich in 1967. I happened to be spending some time in Wren's edifice, doing a Naval Staff Course before heading out to Singapore to take over 2 SBS from Paddy Ashdown, (but that's another story).
Chichester, in Gypsy Moth was on the last leg of his journey and the buzz was that he was up for a knighthood to recognise his attempt to sail around the globe single handed and non stop. (A noteworthy attempt, but no cigar). It further transpired that the deed was to be performed at the Royal Naval College at Greenwich. I had assumed that being an undersized Royal Marine officer who looked like a sack of potatoes in uniform, I would be assigned to supervision of car parking, at a suitable distance.
To my discomfort, I discovered, at the last minute, that I was responsible for the gentlemen (and ladies) of the press. (Were they mad?)
The basic plan was that Chichester would dock alongside the College and would be escorted inside to be royally dubbed by HM, in private. The malcontents from the street of dreams were displeased by these arrangements which they voiced in their usual fashion. What they didn't know was that the plan had been changed, which I neglected to tell them until the old boy was taken to a podium outside for a public Knighting. In fairness, I did ensure that they all had front row seats. This was my first experience with those that wielded the mighty pen but certainly not my last. - Douggie Brand
Brendan Monks [Letters, last week] is correct re location, photographer and date. But wrong about the image; fairly typical of a picture editor, if I may say so, to mistake repetition for truth and reality.
This search came about because, years ago, on a subbing course, in one of our textbooks were the cropped and un-cropped versions side-by-side, to show how easy it is to make a picture tell a false story.
More detective work required. - John Blauth
Reading Paddy O'Gara's memory [In God’s Name, last week] about a Mirror chaplain, I recalled one of my favourite O'Gara stories. Talk in the Stab one day had turned to how aggressive smudger Peter ‘Pedro’ Stone could be, when roused. Paddy disagreed, saying that he always got on well with him. ‘But then,’ he said, ‘I once took a thorn out of his paw...’
By the way, I'm constantly amazed by Ranters’ memories of all those golden years. Apart from isolated moments, my mind’s a blur. It's like they said about the Sixties: If you remember them, you weren't there... - John Garton
For previous letters, please click on Letters - Past
Friday, August 3, 2007