Quote of the day

September 1, 2015

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.Oliver Sacks

Hat tip: Not PC

Cilla Black 27.5.43 – 2.8.15

August 3, 2015

Cilla Black has died.

. . . Born Priscilla White in Liverpool, Black changed her name to launch a singing career with hits such as Anyone Who Had a Heart and You’re My World.

Her career focus shifted to television in 1968, when she was given her own BBC One primetime series, and she went on to host a number of shows for ITV.

Black’s journey to stardom began at Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club, where she started work as a part-time cloakroom attendant.

It was there she met her husband-to-be Bobby Willis and went on to perform alongside such acts as The Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers.

She was soon brought to the attention of manager Brian Epstein and released her first single, Love of the Loved, in September 1963.

The following year she released the ballads You’re My World and Anyone Who Had a Heart, both of which went to number one. . . .

Omar Sharif 10.4.32 – 10.7.15

July 11, 2015

Omar Sharif has died:

Actor Omar Sharif, best known for his roles in classic films Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, has died aged 83.

Egypt-born Sharif won two Golden Globe awards and an Oscar nomination for his role as Sherif Ali in David Lean’s 1962 epic Lawrence of Arabia.

He won a further Golden Globe three years later for Doctor Zhivago.

Earlier this year, his agent confirmed he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. . .



1951 Wellington-Lyttelton yacht race TV1 tonight

May 20, 2015

The Peninsula Cruising Club’s Canterbury centennial race from Wellington to Lyttelton is the subject of Descent from Disaster, on TV1 at 8:30 this evening.

Only one of the 20 starters finished the race and two yachts, Argo and Husky, were lost with all their crew.

Another race entrant, Astral, was dismasted. A trawler, Tawera, took the yacht in tow but as the weather worsened the tow rope chafed through.

My father was one of the crew on the Caplin. A newspaper report in his journal records the account of the trawler skipper, George Brasell:

A newspaper report in Dad’s journal records the account of the trawler skipper, George Brasell:

“Astral was carrying a light and all we could do was to stand by alongside her and keep her in view. This was a tremendous task as it was blowing a full gale and a light was only visible when she topped the seas. My crew were tried to their utmost that night and did a wonderful job i n trying to keep the Astral in sight. Visibility was very bad. We only picked up land once after leaving Lyttelton.

“About midnight on Friday the crew of the Astral signalled us to put oil on the water. We did as requested until daylight when we started to take the crew off by means of a line dragging each member through the water. Luckily the rescue was carried out successfully. I felt proud of my crew. The rescue was carried out at the height of the gale. . . “

 I posted on the race on its anniversary. Several people with memories of it or connections to it left comments.

B.B. King 16.9.25 – 14.5.15

May 18, 2015

Blues musician B.B. King died last week:

B.B. King, the singer and guitarist who put the blues in a three-piece suit and took the musical genre from the barrooms and back porches of the Mississippi Delta to Carnegie Hall and the world’s toniest concert stages with a signature style emulated by generations of blues and rock musicians, has died. He was 89.

The 15-time Grammy Award winner died in Las Vegas, his attorney said. He had struggled in recent years with diabetes.

Early on, King transcended his musical shortcomings – an inability to play guitar leads while he sang and a failure to master the use of a bottleneck or slide favored by many of his guitar-playing peers – and created a unique style that made him one of the most respected and influential blues musicians ever. . .

Remembering Dan

May 17, 2015

Twenty six years ago today we welcomed the arrival of our second son.

Every birth is special and there was added poignancy to Dan’s because his older brother Tom, who had been born a little more than two years earlier, had lived only 20 weeks.

Extensive tests throughout Tom’s life and a post-mortem had ruled out all the known genetic conditions. We were told barring the one in a million chance Tom had suffered from something medical science hadn’t picked up, it was safe to have another baby.

Dan was that one in a million baby. A couple of weeks after he was born he started having convulsions. I’d watched his brother have hundreds of fits and had no doubt about what was happening.

We called our GP who sent us down to Dunedin hospital where Dan went through the battery of examinations his brother had, and like those for Tom they came up with no diagnosis.

As various diseases and conditions were ruled out though, his doctor became as sure as he could be about the prognosis – Dan’s life would be short and his development severely compromised.

Dan defied the prediction of his imminent death but not the one that he’d be profoundly handicapped. He lived more than five times longer than Tom had, dying a couple of weeks past his fifth birthday. However, he passed none of the developmental milestones and could do no more the day he died than he’d been able to the day he was born.

Caring for a child with multiple disabilities was demanding but we were supported by a close extended family, true friends, wonderful health professionals and IHC.

When he died I was sad, but I also felt some relief from the knowledge that his death would free us from the challenges which his life had presented us with.

In spite of that sense of relief, I was also confronted by grief for the baby we’d wanted and loved so much; and not just for what we’d lost but what we could never have – the hopes and dreams for his future as a happy, healthy boy and man.

The stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – make it appear orderly.

It’s not. It’s messy, unpredictable and it hurts. But, like a wound, it also heals.

There is no wonder treatment that can help the healing, but like Robert Fulghum:

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge-

That myth is more potent than history.

I believe that dreams are more powerful than facts-

That hope always triumphs over experience-

That laughter is the only cure for grief.

And I believe that love is stronger than death.”

Rutger Gunnarsson 12.2.46 – 8.5.15

May 13, 2015

Rutger Gunnarsson, who played bass for Abba, has died at the age of 69.

Gunnarsson, who performed on every album by the ‘Waterloo’ hitmakers and also joined them onstage, passed away at his home in Sweden on Friday.

In a post on Facebook, Abba paid tribute to Gunnarsson, writing, “His unique way of playing his bass, his beautiful string arrangements and thorough work as a producer for countless Swedish and foreign artists and musicians have colored pop music from the early ’70s up until today. . .


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