July 27, 2016
Last week’s funeral was for a man in his 90s, sad but the natural order of things.
Today’s was for a man who was only 58, sad.
But he was a man who packed more into those 58 years than many others would have in twice that time, including saving several lives while risking his own as a helicopter pilot.
Today I am sad that his life is over far too soon but grateful that he lived in a way that made the world so much better for his being in it.
July 20, 2016
Had you walked into his funeral this morning not knowing him you would have walked out feeling you knew him well.
His family shared their memories of a loving family man; a hard worker; a good man who lived his faith and acted on his belief that you must give children something constructive to do to save them from the temptation to do something destructive.
Today I’m grateful for the long life of a good man who left the world a better place for his contribution to it.
May 21, 2016
Alan Young, who starred as Mr Ed’s human side kick in the eponymous television programme, has died.
Alan Young, famous for his role as the human companion to a talking horse in sitcom Mister Ed, died on Thursday (local time), at the Motion Picture and Television Home in Woodland Hills, California. He was aged 96.
The UK-born, Canadian-raised actor had lived in a retirement community for four years. His children were with him when he died of natural causes.
In the series, which ran from 1961-1966 on US network CBS, Young played architect Wilbur Post, who owned the wacky talking horse with his wife, Carol. Mr Ed would only talk for Wilbur, and could occasionally get him into trouble.
Young was also the voice of Disney character Scrooge McDuck on Duck Tales and voiced several other animated characters. He had made numerous cameos on dozens of TV shows. . .
May 17, 2016
Our second son would have been celebrating a birthday today.
But he died just 10 days after his fifth birthday. He had a brain disorder that left him with multiple handicaps and had led to the death of his older brother, Tom, when he was only 20 weeks-old.
When Dan died I was sad, but I was also relieved. Looking after a five year-old who could do no more than a new-born child was demanding and I knew our lives would be easier without him but I also know they are better because he lived.
His death freed us up to do things which were difficult to do with him but his life made us realise we shouldn’t take them for granted.
It was easy to say he couldn’t do anything but he taught us to appreciate simple pleasures, to lose the ignorance we had about intellectual disability, how fortunate we are to be part of a close extended family and circle of friends, that ability isn’t a right but a privilege and that love really is stronger than death.
Today I’m grateful for all of that.
April 25, 2016
Last year we went to Germany in search of the farm my farmer’s great-grandfather left in the 1800s.
He and his brother left to avoid conscription during the Prussian warand never returned.
We found the farm and in the village close by we came across a war memorial on which there were the names of those who had died in World Wars I and II.
Among the names was the German version of Ludemann.
He could have been fighting Ludemanns from New Zealand and Australia who were related to him.
It brought home to me the arbitrary nature of life and death and the tragedy of war which pits ordinary people against other ordinary people who are on one side or the other because of where they happened to be at a time and place.
Today, on Anzac Day, we rightly remember and honour those who served with the allies at home and abroad and especially those wounded or killed.
But at this distance from the awfulness of those wars and in the hope of peace, it’s not inappropriate to also remember that there were people like us on the other side.
April 22, 2016
The multi-talented Victoria Wood has died.
Victoria Wood – who has died at the age of 62 – was one of the UK’s best-loved entertainers with a career spanning more than four decades.
A Bafta award-winning comedian, actor, singer and writer, Wood was probably best known for her 1980s comedy series Victoria Wood: As Seen On TV and for her on-screen partnership with Julie Walters in the comedy sketch series Wood and Walters.
She wrote and starred in the hit BBC sitcom Dinnerladies and branched out into drama – writing and starring in the 2006 World War Two ITV drama Housewife, 49 – an adaptation of the diaries of Nella Last – which earned her two Baftas.
Wood was also popular for her live stand-up comedy shows, which were interspersed with her own compositions accompanied on the piano.
Made an OBE in 1997 and then a CBE later in 2008, Wood’s much-admired talent lay in her brand of humour which was grounded in everyday life – full of astute observations of popular culture and the mundane elements of life. . .
The Poke has 21 of her best one liners which include:
- We’d like to apologise to our viewers in the north…………it must be awful for them.
- A man is designed to walk three miles in the rain to phone for help when the car breaks down, and a woman is designed to say, “You took your time” when he comes back dripping wet. . .
- I haven’t got a waist. I’ve just got a sort of place, a bit like an unmarked level crossing.
- I once went to one of those parties where everyone throws their car keys into the middle of the room. I don’t know who got my moped but I’ve been driving that Peugeot for years.
- The first day I met my producer, she said, “I’m a radical feminist lesbian.” I thought what would the Queen Mum do? So I just smiled and said, “We shall have fog by tea-time.” . .
- I’ve got a degree, does that mean I have to spend my life with intellectuals? I’ve also got a life-saving certificate, but I don’t spend my evenings diving for a rubber brick with my pyjamas on. . .
April 7, 2016
Country singer Merle Haggard has died:
Merle Haggard, the grizzled country music legend whose songs such as “Okie from Muskogee” and “Fightin’ Side of Me” made him a voice for the workingman and the outsider, has died. He was 79.
Haggard died Wednesday, his birthday, of complications from pneumonia at his home in Northern California, his agent Lance Roberts told CNN. . .