With the amount of ‘once young’ who’ve died over the weekend (I’m thinking Eusébio and Phil Everly), it’s the death of Simon Hoggart that probably has taken me by the greatest surprise. There was an odd mix of innocence and experience about his sketch writing that allowed him to, as the Guardian puts it, think in “different patterns from conventional people”.
As he once said so fondly and so honestly of us Northern Irelanders, “they really are the nicest people in the world except when they’re trying to kill you.”
Though you can now walk safely at night down streets where in the 1970s I would not willingly have driven in a locked car during the noonday rain, some things don’t change. Outside Debenhams in the city centre I saw three drunk youths singing the old sectarian song The Sash my Father Wore. But as my friend Piers said: “They were probably on an Arts Council grant.”
Or this on the Mayor of London’s odd populist charms… “Boris [Johnson] will stop at nothing to advance his ambitions, short of buying a comb”.