The deaths of two giants of the arts were announced today. The Australian poet, critic, broadcaster, poet, translator and essayist, Clive James, and the theatre and opera director, actor, author and medical doctor Sir Jonathan Miller. Shahidha Bari is joined by Ian McEwan, Eric Idle, Norman Lebrecht, Melvin Bragg and Pete Atkin to pay tribute.
I've always enjoyed Clive James gentle humour. One Christmas I bought my partner one of his poetry books. It's still a firm favourite of hers.
Sad and beautiful poem of James’
I remember in the early eighties being on a long train journey and reading Unreliable Memoirs by Clive James; embarrassed myself by laughing out loud uncontrollably many times.
In fact, I must read it again having written this.
Enjoyed all his books after that trip made me a firm fan.
I don’t own many paper books these days, for reasons of space, but Unreliable Memoirs and it’s two sequels is one of the books I’ve kept. It’s held together with very yellowed sellotape from when the dog chewed it in my early teenage years.
I was genuinely saddened to read about Clive James’ death, and then slipped further in to depression when I read the lengthy list of achievements on his self-written biography on his website. What have I been doing with my life? I’m half his age and my bio would fit on a mini post-it.
Clive James will be relieved that he's died at last, he'd recently written and spoken of how he felt a bit embarrassed about going on for so long after his terminal diagnosis.
A marvellous example of his self depreciating humour
Gary Rhodes dead too this week. Suicide by the looks of it.
Yes, very sad even if not unexpected. Seeing Miller and James on television was an important part of my realisation that there was another world beyond the cultural desert of the suburban fringes of the West Midlands where I grew up. I loved Miller's the Body in Question and the idea that it was possible to be good at more than one thing. I was too young for Beyond the Fringe but I went back to it after the Secret Policeman's Ball - what a combination of talent!
James was a fixture as a witty presenter on TV in the 1980s but I became a real fan through reading his series of memoirs. He was part of a stellar cast of Cambridge contemporaries (there's an Australian character in the Glittering Prizes who surely must be him) and it was in Cambridge that he finally settled.
His poetry is touching and accessible and I guess we'll be hearing this more often from now on:
And let's not forget Gary Rhodes too. If you believed in that sort of thing there would be the makings of a very civilised afterlife dinner party somewhere.
> Gary Rhodes dead too this week. Suicide by the looks of it.
There's no mention of the cause of death is usually a good indicator. Also he is in the prime demographic is he not, there aren't too many things people die of suddenly at that age outside of strokes/heart attacks (which one might expect to be stated) or accidents.
I could be entirely wrong of course.
> I could be entirely wrong of course.
According to the Daily Mail, you are.
I never understand the need to ascribe a cause of death in the face of no facts whatsoever.
> According to the Daily Mail, you are.
> I never understand the need to ascribe a cause of death in the face of no facts whatsoever.
In the absence of facts people are naturally inclined to produce assumptions based on best guesses. It's human nature.
Ok - accident it was. I stand corrected.
Part of my Higher English paper was an excerpt from Clives Observer TV column. Brilliant stuff...descriptions of The Incredible Hulk with Lou Ferrigno...Where Eagles Dare( why have the German army been issued with blanks but Burton and Eastwood can shoot anything that moves?!) and my particular favourite his description of Arnold Schwarzenegger as " a big Brown condom stuffed with walnuts"
Lots of muffled laughter heard round the hall.
Loved his books and Tv show. A wonderfully funny man.
Do you remember a piece on Everest? Clive was underwhelmed by a documentary on Messner's oxygen-free ascent.
Worth seeking out