Jonah Lomu 12.5.75 – 18.11.15

November 18, 2015

All Black legend Jonah Lomu has died at the age of 40.

Lomu battled kidney disorders since the end of 1995 when he was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome. He had a kidney transplant in 2004.

He suffered health setbacks since the transplant and had been receiving dialysis treatments during his recent visit to Britain where he was involved in heavy promotional work for the Rugby World Cup. . . .

People, like us

November 16, 2015

September 11th in the USA.

July 7th in the UK.

And now November 13th, a really black Friday, in France.

If we think back we might remember a few more places where terror struck, if not the dates – Bali, the Boston marathon, Paris earlier this year . . .

But how many other places can we name in the very recent past – the last few months, weeks, even days, where people were killed or injured by acts of terrorism?

How much attention do we pay to news bulletins which tell us of other people in other places for whom terror isn’t a rare and aberrant occurrence but a constant companion?

Indian poet Karuna Ezara Parikh wrote in response to the Paris attacks:

Stalin said: The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.

Big numbers, particularly in places with which we’re not familiar and where sudden and violent death is not abnormal, are hard to grasp, particularly if we know and understand little of the geography, history and politics.

The events of 9/11 (or 11/9 for everyone outside the USA), 7/7 and 13/11 got our attention because terror struck in places with which many of us are familiar where the culture is similar, where we might have visited and/or know people, and the people are like us.

They also had the potential to affect us directly because we knew some of those affected, and through increased security measures and the consequent, though not large, loss of freedom.

These many other deaths and on-going terror are far less likely to affect us directly.

But do they not have an impact in the way that the tragedies in New York, London and Paris do because differences in language and culture emphasise what we don’t share and blind us to what we do – our common humanity?

Just because they aren’t people like us, we should never forget that they are people, like us.


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. . .


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