The BBC have turned my friend Rory Stewart’s book about walking across Afghanistan into the Thursday Afternoon Play this week (2.15pm, Radio 4).
You can use the link to listen to the show for up to a week after the broadcast, which is helpful, as only a madman (or madwoman) turns on Radio 4 in the afternoon before 10pm.
Gustav Bergenroth, historian and Saint-Simonian. A ’48er, he later emigrated to California in 1850 to found an agricultural commune at Pillar Point, 20 miles south of San Francisco, but returned to Europe a year later. He settled in London and became a Tudor historian and an expert on the Spanish state papers of the period. Born in Treuberg, East Prussia, 26 February 1813; died in Madrid, Spain, 13 February 1869.
Jean Renoir [also also also], film-maker, born 15 September 1894, died 12 February 1979.
Can people stop dying, please, at least for a bit? The last six months or so of my life have been punctuated far more than I’d like them to be by the news of deaths. My grandmother Eileen died in August at 95, which is a pretty good innings by any stretch of the imagination; the others have all gone long before their time, whether scholars in my field like Robert Wokler (cancer) or Iris Marion Young (cancer), colleagues and friends here in Oxford like Ewen Green (MS-related) or Peter Derow (heart attack), the poor 15-year old chap who rode his bike into the river a few hundred yards from where I live, or, most recently, one of my undergraduate political philosophy students here at Balliol, Andrew Mason, whom I’d barely got to know, but who was clearly a great guy. It’s too many. And I’d like it to stop.
Ernest Bader, industrial reformer and Quaker. After emigrating to England in 1912 and deserting from the armed forces in the First World War, Bader founded a chemical company in 1920, which became Scott Bader Ltd. This later became the site of several experiments, culminating in the Scott Bader Commonwealth from 1951, operating on Gandhian principles of industrial trusteeship and co-operative ownership. Born in Regensdorf, Switzerland, 24 November 1890, died in Wollaston, Northamptonshire, 5 February 1982.
The curious thing about this piece in yesterday’s tehgraun is how few of the pleasures these intellectuals list — country music, Elvis Presley, Trinny and pro-wrestling, baseball, and so on — ought to induce guilt in any way, shape or form. (The odd inclusion is James Wood’s nomination of car magazines, but that stands out because it’s hard to see how they could be pleasurable.) Still, I don’t suppose that this crowd was going confess an interest in horse-porn or dogging to a random journalist.
Thinking of dogging, as I suppose we all do from time to time, is this still something that the Great British Public pursues at night in motorway laybys, or was it very much an early-millennium fad? And if it has faded from the scene, did fashions just change, or did the police develop some effective anti-dogging strategies when they weren’t investigating cash-for-peerages? Or something else?
Apparently Pete Seeger is still alive. Who knew?
How did the old song go?
“They gave him his orders at Party headquarters,
Sayin’, “Pete, you’re way behind time —
It is not ’38 but 1957,
and there’s been a change in the Party line.”
Something like that, anyway.
Molly Ivins, born 30 August 1944, died 31 January 2007.