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Terry Jones

I was so saddened to hear of the death of Terry Jones but it was even sadder that his fertile mind had been undermined in the last years of his life by dementia.

Everyone knows Jones from Monty Python (and his eponymous Flying Circus) but I first remember his appearances in the ITV series Do Not Adjust Your Set which ran in the late 1960s. I see some of that programme’s episodes are now on You Tube.

Many of the traits later to be expanded on in Monty Python’s Flying Circus were there in embryo.

There are many classic Jones/Python moments. Here are just three:-

Mouse organ:-

Terence Graham Parry Jones: 1/2/1942 – 21/1/2020. So it goes.

2020

Happy New Year.

Goodness knows we need it.

A happy year that is.

Martin Peters

The football player who was “ten years ahead of his time” (at least according to Alf Ramsey) and one of a select few – English footballers to have won a World Cup – has died.

Had Wolfgang Weber not scored for Germany in the last minute of normal time Martin Peters would have been known as the man who won that World Cup as it was he who put England into the lead in the 78th minute.

As it was, Ramsey told his players, “You’ve won it once. Now you’ll have to go out there and win it again,” but it was team mate Geoff Hurst who grabbed the late glory.

All in all Peters had not a bad footballing CV.

Martin Stanford Peters: 8/11/1943 – 21/12/2019. So it goes.

Friday on my Mind 185: You Can Never Stop Me Loving You – RIP Kenny Lynch

One of the few black British entertainers – one of the few black faces – to appear on British television in the early 1960s, belonged to Kenny Lynch, who has died this week.

There were US acts of course, such as Sammy Davis Jr, Nat King Cole and Harry Belafonte and Blues and Motown artistes would feature on shows such as Ready, Steady Go! and Top of the Pops but as for British performers Lynch was just about it.

There were quite a few strings to Lynch’s bow, singing on variety shows, popping up on game shows – always with a cheerful demeanour – and he also had a career as an actor but among other songs Lynch wrote Sha La La La La Lee which became a hit for the Small Faces. He was also the first singer to cover a Beatles song (Misery.)

This is his joint biggest UK hit. On it Lynch sounds a bit like Sam Cooke. No small praise.

Kenny Lynch: You Can Never Stop Me Loving You

Kenneth Lynch: 18/3/1938 – 18/12/2019. So it goes.

Three Deaths in One Day

Is it 2016 again?

I woke up yesterday to the news that Gary Rhodes had died. My first thought was, “Wasn’t he quite young?” 59 as it turns out. Still young, though. I knew of him and remembered his face from TV appearances but celebrity chefs are not really one of my interests.

Gary Rhodes: 22/4/1960 – 26/11/2019. So it goes.

At lunchtime came the news of Jonathan Miller. He has seemed part of the cultural background for all my life starting as having been one of the “Beyond the Fringe” team (once seen, who can forget the “useless sacrifice” sketch? – “Don’t come back.”) Then he made a different name for himself as a theatre and opera director and general talking head on anything to do with the arts.

Jonathan Wolfe Miller: 21/7/1934 – 27/11/2019. So it goes.

When I told the good lady about Miller she wondered, “Who’ll be third?”

On the Six O’Clock News, we both found out. Clive James. He’d been living on borrowed time for a while of course but I was still saddened by this news.

He first came to my attention with his TV review columns for The Observer then came his Clive James on Television show and I followed his television career from then on. His delight and bemusement at the idiosyncracies of TV shows and entertainers from around the world was one of its main features. The antics shown were unusual viewing in the UK at the time – little did he know how mainstream they would become – but his coverage had a patronising tone at times yet without tipping over into condescension. Among other things he introduced the British public to the remarkable talents of Margarita Pracatan. He could be waspish if he felt the subject demanded it, though. Later he took to fronting travel shows which had an off-kilter view of the world. In among all that he found time to write poetry, memoirs and novels. Most recently he had a weekly column on a Saturday in the Guardian’s Weekend section.

Clive James: 7/10/1939 – 24/11/2019. So it goes.

Terrance Dicks

A name well-known to fans of Doctor Who, Terrance Dicks has died.

His asssociation with the programme began first as script editor (a position he held from from 1968-1974) and then as writer, starting with the last Patrick Troughton serial The War Games, which introduced the Time Lords, in 1969.

Away from the Doctor he wrote the all-but forgotten (some would say rightly) Sf series Moonbase 3.

Perhaps less commendably he contributed scripts for the ITV soap opera Crossroads, famous for its cardboard sets (and equally cardboard characterisation – none of which could be attributed to him.)

He also wrote many of the Doctor Who novelisations and original stories not derived from TV scripts.

Part of many people’s childhoods, his loss will sadden those who look back upon his work with affection.

Terrance William Dicks: 14/4/1935 – 29/8/2019. So it goes.

Toni Morrison

I must confess I have not read any of the works of Toni Morrison who died earlier this week. My fault. Her obituary and other articles about her in the Guardian and things I have read about her before or seen discussed on book programmes and the like indicate she is certainky worth reading.

What can I say?

Too many books. Not enough time.

I ought perhaps to remedy my omission in the future, though.

Chloe Ardelia Wofford (Toni Morrison): 18/2/1931 – 5/8/2019. So it goes.

Reelin’ In the Years 161: Such a Night. RIP Dr John

Last week Dr John died.

In his early years known as The Night Tripper, he never troubled the UK charts much. (At all? Well a no. 54 with Right Place, Wrong Time).

I featured Marsha Hunt’s version of Walk on Gilded Splinters – a song from Dr John’s first album Gris Gris – in Friday on my Mind 11.

Hunt’s single was weird enough but Dr John’s original – as I Walk on Guilded Splintersis even eerier.

Here’s Dr John playing Such a Night live.

Dr John: Such a Night

Malcolm John Rebennack (Dr John:) 20/11/1941 – 6/6/2019. So it goes.

Murray Gell-Mann

For those of you who haven’t heard of him Murray Gell-Mann was to the forefront in the field of elementary particle Physics in the mid-twentieth century.

He died on May 24th and his Guardian obituary is here.

It was Gell-Mann who named the building blocks of hadrons as “quarks” after a sentence from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. He also dubbed the classification system for hadrons as the “eightfold way” in a nod to Buddhism.

Who says scientists aren’t widely read?

Murray Gell-Mann: 15/9/1929 – May 24/5/2019. So it goes.

Paul Darrow

I was sad to see that Paul Darrow has died.

As Avon in the BBC TV SF series Blake’s 7 he provided the grit in the oyster which turned it into a pearl. (There wasn’t much TV SF about in those days in the UK – Doctor Who apart – so we were grateful for what we could get.)

There’s a hint of Davros in some of Darrow’s delivery of his lines in this compilation of Avon’s put-downs.

Paul Valentine Birkby (Paul Darrow): 2/5/1941 – 3/6/2019. So it goes.

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