Thursday, 30 June 2011

Mike Doyle

Mike Doyle
For 35 years Mike Doyle remained the last man to lead Manchester City to a Wembley final win. 
In these football days of millionaire mercenaries, Mike Doyle, who has died of liver failure at the age of 64, stood out as a bastion of club loyalty. For him, Manchester City meant everything, and he had an almost visceral hatred of their rivals, Manchester United. A rare current equivalent, though with an opposite allegiance, might be the United player Gary Neville.
Born to the east of Manchester in Ashton-under-Lyne, Doyle joined City from Stockport Boys as a youth player in 1962, and spent two years playing at that level, initially as a forward, then as a right-back. Ultimately he settled down as the more defensive wing-half, perfectly partnered by the more adventurous Alan Oakes. Doyle also had a successful spell in central defence.
Between 1965 and 1978, he made 448 league appearances for City, scoring 32 goals, and in 1976-77 five appearances for England. Above all, he became an inspirational club captain. Dennis Tueart, another England player and City winger, recalled: "He was a born winner. He had two periods really as a great player for Manchester City. He was a great leader on the field. I know I got all the praise [for the winning goal againstNewcastle United at Wembley in the Football League Cup Final of 1976], but in my mind Mike was our player of the match without question."
Doyle was equally influential when City won the FA Cup against Leicester City at Wembley in 1969. He was also a major force when City won the European Cup-Winners' Cup Final in Vienna against Górnik Zabrze in 1970, and scored that year when City beat West Bromich Albion in the League Cup Final. And when City won the league title in 1967-68, Doyle had the special satisfaction of seeing them finish two points ahead of Manchester United.
However, his career was compromised by City's flamboyant, innovative but erratic coach, Malcolm Allison, who, when promoted to full manager in 1972, bought the striker Rodney Marsh from Queen's Park Rangers, and, to the horror of City's fans, dropped Doyle to make room for him. In this, his first managerial spell at City, Allison lasted only a season, and after he left, Doyle not only regained his place but won his five England caps.
In 1978 Manchester City transferred him for £50,000 to second-division Stoke City, where he became player of the season in 1979, eventually making 115 league appearances, with five goals. In 1981 he moved to second-division Bolton Wanderers for two years, making 40 appearances and scoring two goals. His playing career came to an end in the 1983-84 season with fourth-division Rochdale, for whom he played 24 games, scoring once.
Yet Manchester City remained in his genes. "I get a bit tired of being the last City player to lead a winning team at Wembley," he once complained. "Obviously I'm proud, but the longer it goes on, the longer it means we haven't won anything." This year, at least, he was able to celebrate an FA Cup win at last for City, over his other main team, Stoke.
In his later years, he had various salesman jobs, and in 2007 sought help for addiction to alcohol at the Sporting Chance Clinic at Liphook, Hampshire, founded by the former Arsenal captain Tony Adams. This helped him to give up drink for 18 months.
He is survived by his wife, Cheryl, his daughters, Stephanie and Natalie, and his sons, Scott and Grant.
• Michael Doyle, footballer, born 25 November 1946; died 27 June 2011

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Christopher Shale

Christopher Shale 
Christopher Shale never wanted to become an MP himself, but was fascinated by politics and its potential.
Almost every night in Rwanda during the four years in which he participated in the Conservative party venture Project Umubano, Christopher Shale would sit on the steps of a Christian mission. There he stayed with other volunteers, drinking what everyone agreed was filthy Kenyan brandy – which he personally imported – howling with laughter at the stories and experiences being exchanged, and with the sheer joy of being alive.
He had an irrepressible delight in everything he did. His friend Andrew Mitchell, the international development secretary, who conceived the initiative five years ago, and was himself no stranger to Kenyan brandy, said that Shale's company was like "a constantly open bottle of champagne".
Shale enthused everyone with whom he came into contact, including many hundreds of Rwandans whose lives he was trying to help improve. He became involved in the scheme through the recommendation of David Cameron: it aimed to assist the devastated country in the wake of the 1994 genocide by aiding the restoration of public services, justice, education and business enterprise. According to Mitchell, Shale's participation in Rwanda changed his life probably as much as he attempted to change the lives of others.
Shale, who has died unexpectedly at the Glastonbury festival at the age of 56, was chairman of the West Oxfordshire Conservative Association and a respected adviser and close friend of the prime minister. They shared an exceptional level of trust. Shale was a crucial figure in securing the selection of Cameron as the potential Conservative candidate for Witney in succession to Shaun Woodward, who had defected to the Labour party in 1999, but remained the MP for the constituency until the 2001 general election.
After Cameron succeeded Woodward as MP, Shale's role gradually evolved to become one of considerable significance in party policy-making, particularly after Cameron was elected Conservative leader in 2005. He was a director of the Centre for Policy Studies, the rightwing thinktank inaugurated by Sir Keith Joseph, and a member of OpenEurope, another Conservative eurosceptic grouping. He had never wanted to become an MP himself, but was fascinated by politics and its potential.
He became chairman of the West Oxfordshire association six months ago and had been instrumental in trying to spread his political message in the schools of his area every bit as much as in Rwanda. He was full of ideas for political fundraising and established a Principal Patrons' Club to persuade party supporters to part with their money.
Cameron trusted his judgment and, above all, his invaluable asset of discretion. On the day of Shale's death a memorandum he had written about the shortcomings of his local party had been leaked to the Mail on Sunday. Although the memo was specific to West Oxfordshire, it is understood that Shale regarded it as a blueprint for the Conservative party in the country, which helps explain Downing Street's anxiety about the leak ‑ and not least because Shale had said in the document that the Conservatives came across to the public as "graceless, voracious, crass, always on the take". His views were respected in No 10 because of the breadth of his experience, his humanity and his ability to relate to others of any background. It was entirely typical that he was at the Glastonbury festival, which he regularly attended.
He was born in Northamptonshire, though his family would later settle in Edinburgh, and was the eldest of five children. He went to Oakham school, Rutland, an establishment with a proud sporting reputation, where he was an opening bowler in the cricket team and played rugby without making any concession to his difficulties as an asthmatic, nor that of having been born with only two fingers on his left hand. He became head boy and then chose Sandhurst over the opportunity to go to university. In 1975 he joined the 17th/21st Lancers with a short-service commission.
After a successful army career, which he enjoyed as much as everything else he did, he decided on a career in public relations. He cut his teeth with the company of the cricketer and sports commentator Neil Durden-Smith before setting up companies of his own, promoting luxury products. He briefly employed Sarah Ferguson, before her marriage to the Duke of York, as a temporary secretary, and she is a godmother to one of his sons. More recently he established Oxford Resources, a management consultancy company, and a property company, which he operated from his home in the Cotswolds.
He is survived by his wife, Nikki (Nicola), by their son, and by her son and daughter from a former marriage.

• Christopher Michael Henry Shale, businessman and politician, born 23 August 1954; died 26 June 2011

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Margaret Tyzack

The Chalk Garden, 2008
Margaret Tyzack, right, as Mrs St Maugham, with Penelope Wilton in The Chalk Garden at the Donmar in 2008. 
Margaret Tyzack, who has died aged 79, was one of Britain's greatest and most popular actors, working on stage, television and film for more than half a century. Sometimes described as being in the mould of Edith Evans and Flora Robson, she will be remembered particularly for performances in the golden age of BBC TV drama – Winifred in The Forsyte Saga (1967), Antonia in I, Claudius (1976) – as well as for stage performances such as Martha in the National Theatre's revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1981), for which she won an Olivier award for best actress, and Lottie with Maggie Smith in Lettice and Lovage (1987 and 1990), which earned her both Tony and Variety Club stage actress of the year awards. In 2008, well into her 70s, she scored perhaps one of her finest triumphs on stage as the wily, wittily eccentric Mrs St Maugham in Michael Grandage's outstanding revival of Enid Bagnold's The Chalk Garden at the Donmar with Penelope Wilton.
With her open face, broad eyes and generous mouth, there was perhaps always something a little melancholic about her – even pessimistic, a trait she readily admitted to – that found her playing more "mature" roles than her actual years. She once confessed: "I've always played older than myself." It was an asset that served her richly.
Tyzack considered herself first and foremost a character actor, asserting that she "never wanted to be a star". Immensely versatile, unassuming, modest and largely unrecognisable offstage, she often boasted that she could go shopping without being spotted, and lived quietly with her mathematician husband, Alan Stephenson, in Blackheath, south-east London. She could play kind, benign, a pillar of the empire (such as Lady Bruton in Marleen Gorris's 1997 film of Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway) or in the latter years of her career, a show-stealing, fur-clad battleaxe in His Girl Friday, John Guare's stage adaptation of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's The Front Page (National Theatre, 2003).
While there was something endearingly naive about her role as besotted Winifred, and comically understated as the reactionary matriarch in Mrs Dalloway, her depiction of Martha displayed a ferocity previously unrevealed in earlier roles that tended towards either the respectable, down to earth, or emotionally obsessive, sad or caring. In her later career, she seemed to acquire even greater force and magnetism with a trio of superb roles in Auntie and Me at Wyndham's (2003), opposite Alan Davies, Southwark Fair at the National (2006) and The Chalk Garden.
Tyzack was born in Essex, brought up in Plaistow, east London, daughter of a Tate & Lyle foreman, and educated at St Angela's Ursuline convent in Forest Gate. She once said she had become an actor by chance. "Really, I'm a refugee from the typing pool. That would have been the alternative. Or maybe selling something in Harrods." She once mused on becoming a nurse. "A fortune teller," she noted, "used to tell me I had healing in my hands."
She was saved by a "wonderful drama teacher" who came to her school and took an interest in her. She went on to train at Rada, where she won a prize for comedy – forgoing her first choice, speech training, through lack of the required academic qualifications. She then went into repertory in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, where she made her first stage appearance, as a bystander in Shaw's Pygmalion in 1951. Further work followed at the Royal Court and Nottingham Playhouse.
In 1969 she won her first acting award, a Bafta for her role as Queen Anne in the BBC's The First Churchills. Two years later she took over from Eileen Atkins as Elizabeth I in Robert Bolt's Vivat! Vivat Regina! at the Piccadilly. The following year, with the Royal Shakespeare Company, she appeared as Volumnia in Coriolanus, Portia in Julius Caesar and Tamora in Titus Andronicus. As Volumnia, she was towering, a terrifying tigress fighting for her son's life but also reducing Ian Hogg's athletic warrior general to shuddering, childhood impotence.
Tyzack was in the US in 1971, winning another award for her performance in the title role of a television version of Balzac's Cousin Bette. Then in 1976 came the landmark TV drama I, Claudius, followed by three years at Stratford, Ontario, where she took on roles as Mrs Alving in Ibsen's Ghosts, Queen Margaret in Richard III and the Countess in All's Well That Ends Well.
If much of the early 1980s saw her exploiting her TV range, she also came even more into her own on stage. In 1983 she received a Tony nomination for her reprised role as the Countess in Trevor Nunn's RSC production of All's Well That Ends Well when it visited Broadway, and two years later was again picked out by New York's Drama Desk critics for her performance as Rose, Viv's mother, in Tom and Viv, Michael Hastings's 1984 play about the tortured marriage between TS Eliot and Vivienne Haigh-Wood, when it travelled to Broadway.
Some of Tyzack's best work, however, was still to come. In 1987, she starred alongside Maggie Smith in Peter Shaffer's quirky two-hander, Lettice and Lovage, a strange, whimsical tale of two women, one a fantasist, the other, Tyzack, a strict traditionalist, who are at first enemies, but forge an odd kind of friendship. With her dry humour, Tyzack proved the perfect foil to Smith's high camp. The play ran for two years in London before moving to Broadway, where Tyzack received another Tony. Her partnership with Smith was revived in 1993 when she played Miss Prism to Smith's Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest at the Aldwych, a characterisation marked by its originality. For once Prism was no fusty spinster but, in Tyzack's hands, an attractive and clever woman.
Other major roles at that time included the older sister to Felicity Kendal's adventure-seeking Fiona, reminiscing about her younger sister's Indian exploits, in Tom Stoppard's Indian Ink at the Aldwych in 1995, and an imperious Lady Monchensey in Adrian Noble's much admired revival of TS Eliot's The Family Reunion, at the RSC (2000), where one critic described her face as "nothing less than a tragic mask when Harry, her pride and joy, relates his 'unspeakable' sorrow". In 1993, she played Sybil Birling in Stephen Daldry's mould-breaking revival of JB Priestley's An Inspector Calls at the Aldwych, and in 1996, scored one of her biggest successes in Alan Bennett's Soldiering On (Chichester Festival Theatre, then at the Comedy Theatre in the West End). Playing Muriel, she conveyed the infinite distress of a woman whose lifetime code of denial was gradually being stripped away.
As the almost mute aunt to Alan Davies's garrulous nephew in Auntie and Me, she was required only to lie in bed, but still managed to convey a wealth of meanings, switching between beatific smiles and nods. In between times, her TV and film work continued to flourish. Two particularly heavy years, 1980 and 1981, saw her appear in seven different television productions, including Paulina in Jane Howell's adaptation of A Winter's Tale.
In 1987, she appeared as Madame Lambert in Stephen Frears's film of the ill-fated relationship between Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell, in Prick Up Your Ears. She was also Miss Helen Seymour in Paramount's television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, during the 1990s. Other television series in which she appeared included Miss Marple, Thacker, the dramatisation of Our Mutual Friend, Dalziel & Pascoe and Midsomer Murders. In 2005 she was the narrator's grandmother in Radio 4's all-star cast adaptation of Proust's In Search of Lost Time.
Film appearances included The Whisperers (1967), two films for Stanley Kubrick – as Elena in 2001: Space Odyssey (1968) and a conspirator in A Clockwork Orange (1971) – Bright Young Things (2003), directed by Stephen Fry, and Richard Claus's The Thief Lord (2005).
One lament, expressed early on in her career, was that because of the respectable parts she played, she never seemed to inspire the kind of salacious fan mail some of her peers received, but, she added, prophetically: "If my health and strength keep up, I shall go on until I'm fairly aged." She went on to do precisely that, her last stage appearance being as nurse to Helen Mirren's Phèdre at the National in 2009. Illness compelled her to withdraw from a role in the television soap EastEnders in April.
In 1970 she was appointed OBE, and in 2010 CBE. She is survived by Alan and her son Matthew.

Margaret Maud Tyzack, actor, born 9 September 1931; died 25 June 2011

Monday, 27 June 2011

Supreme Court judge Lord Rodger of Earlsferry dies

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry  
Lord Rodger served as Scotland's Lord Advocate from 1992 to 1995
The Supreme Court judge and former Lord Advocate, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, has died aged 66 after a short illness.
The Crown Office confirmed Lord Rodger's death on Sunday, and said the legal profession was "poorer for his passing".
He spent three years as Scotland's top law officer and was one of the original 12 members of the UK Supreme Court.
First Minister Alex Salmond said Lord Rodger had made an "outstanding contribution" to Scottish public life.
The current Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland, issued a joint statement with two previous holders of the role, Dame Elish Angiolini and Lord Boyd of Duncansby.
'Humanity and humility' They said: "It is with great sadness that we have learnt of Alan Rodger's death.
"Those of us who have had the privilege of working with or appearing before him held him in the highest regard.
"His sharp intellect allied to his humanity and humility made him one of the great Lord Advocates and Lord Presidents."
The son of a University of Glasgow professor, Alan Rodger joined the Scottish Bar in 1974 having studied at Glasgow and Oxford.
Made a life peer in 1992, he became Lord Advocate the same year, holding the position until 1995.
Lord Rodger was appointed a Court of Session judge in 1995 and was Lord President of the Court of Session and Lord Justice General of Scotland from 1996 to 2001.
In 2009, he was one of two Scottish judges appointed to the newly formed UK Supreme Court.
Paying tribute to the judge, Mr Salmond said: "Lord Rodger made an outstanding contribution to public life in Scotland over many years both as a judge and as Lord Advocate.
"He was held in the highest regard by all those who worked with him in public service, and dedicated himself to the interests of justice during a long and hugely influential career."

Friday, 24 June 2011

Columbo star Peter Falk dies aged 83

Peter Falk as Columbo, file pic from MCA TV Peter Falk won four Emmys for his cigar-chomping role as scruffy-haired, mac-wearing Columbo
Peter Falk, the American actor most famous for his role as TV's scruffy detective, Columbo, has died at the age of 83.
The actor died peacefully at home in Beverly Hills on Thursday night, his family said in a statement.
He had been suffering from dementia for a number of years.
Peter Falk won four Emmys for his cigar-chomping role as the deceptively bumbling Columbo, and was nominated for Oscars in 1960 and 1961.
In the 1987 cult classic The Princess Bride, he played a kindly old man regaling his sick grandson with a fairytale combination of swordplay, giants, a beautiful princess and fearsome rodents of unusual size.
But for most fans, even his best-supporting actor nominations in Murder Inc and Pocketful of Miracles were eclipsed by his incarnation as the sleuth in the shabby mac with no known first name and the killer catch-phrase: "One more thing..."
'Like a flood victim' Columbo first appeared on American TV screens in 1968, and NBC commissioned a series in which the detective appeared every third week from 1971 until it was cancelled in 1977.
The part of its policeman hero had originally been written for Bing Crosby, but Falk made the part his own and continued to make special episodes well into his seventies.
He reportedly turned down an offer to convert it into a weekly series, citing the heavy workload.
The actor bought Columbo's trademark raincoat himself, only for it to be replaced after it became too tattered through its near constant use in the series.
He told one interviewer his shabby detective looked "like a flood victim".
"You feel sorry for him. He appears to be seeing nothing, but he's seeing everything. Underneath his dishevellment, a good mind is at work."
Peter Michael Falk was born in 1927 in New York City, where his parents ran a clothes shop.
He had an eye removed at the age of three due to cancer. He said he learned to live with the ailment after it became "the joke of the neighbourhood".
"If the umpire ruled me out on a bad call, I'd take the fake eye out and hand it to him," Falk told the Associated Press in a 1963 interview.
As an aspiring actor, he was reportedly warned by one agent the false eye would preclude him from working in television. In fact, it became another endearing trait of his most famous character.
Peter Falk had been under 24-hour care for several years.
The actor is survived by his wife of three decades, Shera, and daughters from a previous marriage Catherine and Jackie.
In 2009, Catherine Falk applied to be put in charge of his estate, saying he was suffering from Alzheimer's and that she had been blocked from seeing him for six months.

Kader Asmal

Kader Asmal
Kader Asmal in 2000. He could be irascible, even withering, but never faltered in his beliefs.

For sheer energy, nobody in South Africa's post-1994, nonracial cabinets could match Kader Asmal, who has died aged 76 following a heart attack. He was not known as "the Bee" for nothing. The first to feel his sting after he was given the relatively junior portfolio of water affairs and forestry in 1994 were his own civil servants, one of whom said, "He terrorised us into activity." But he mixed this with persuasive eloquence, somehow managing to secure the support of Afrikaner civil servants from the old order who, in political defeat, surprisingly saw themselves resurrected as part of a "winning water team".
Kader's dynamism was limitless, and his flair for publicity came to the fore after President Nelson Mandela, to whom he was close both personally and through their African National Congress (ANC) work, appointed him to the cabinet. Envious colleagues complained they could not open a newspaper without seeing Kader turning on a tap delivering clean drinking water to remote rural black communities. Later, he was given some political hot potatoes: chairing the cabinet's conventional arms control committee, concerned with ruling on the ethics of arms sales, the ANC's national disciplinary committee, and parliament's ethics subcommittee.
In the late 1990s, a check-up revealed bone marrow cancer, but it did not slow him down: Kader was not as close to President Thabo Mbeki as he had been to Mandela, yet in 1999 Mbeki advanced him to the more heavyweight ministry of education. With widespread black illiteracy and the legacy of apartheid "Bantu education", some saw this portfolio as another poisoned chalice. Kader reversed or modified some of the over-ambitious policies of his ANC predecessors, introducing the most far-reaching reforms South Africa had ever known. Controversially, he threatened universities with quotas if they did not apply affirmative action to both staff and students.
Kader left government in 2004, and his resignation from parliament in 2008 confirmed his growing disenchantment with the ruling ANC. He left in protest against the disbanding of the elite police unit, the Scorpions, who were investigating an expenses racket among parliamentarians. Kader considered it "immoral" that those involved in "Travelgate" were allowed to vote for the disbanding of the force.
Only last week, Kader repeated his opposition to the Protection of Information bill, widely criticised as being outrageous. Presently before parliament, the bill will give civil servants ranging across state departments the right to prohibit anyone from publishing or commenting on any government document they choose to "classify". Penalties include imprisonment of up to 25 years without the option of a fine.
Journalists, whistleblowers and opposition politicians would be in the front line of this "secrecy bill". Calling on South Africans to reject the bill "in its entirety", Kader said it would destroy trust in the democratic process. The bill was an "appalling measure … deeply flawed".
He also lashed out at Julius Malema, the 30-year-old president of the ANC youth league (ANCYL), described by the opposition Democratic Alliance as a "thugocracy". Malema is engaged in an open bid for power, challenging even the mother ANC. Some analysts think this could result in President Jacob Zuma being ousted at an ANC elective conference in December next year and replaced by someone of Malema's choice. The last ANCYL president, Fikile Mbalula, is being backed by the league for the ANC's secretary-general post. As police minister, Kader said, Mbalula was militarising the police. This was "craziness". If it ever happened, declared Kader, "I hope I won't be alive."
One of seven children of an Indian shopkeeper in Stanger, north-east of Durban, in what is now KwaZulu-Natal – with an impish wit he sometimes called himself "the coolie from Stanger" – he established his reputation as an achiever while still at school, winning Natal's Islamic debating trophy, immersing himself in books and journals, including the New Statesman, and becoming "a lifelong Anglophile", a sympathy that he managed to combine with one for Irish republicanism.
He became a lawyer to equip himself, he said, to fight such atrocities as he had seen in Nazi concentration-camp films. While still in his matriculation year, 1952, he led a student stay-at-home in the ANC's defiance of unjust laws campaign.
A meeting with the ANC president, Albert Luthuli, whose movements were restricted, launched him on his lifelong commitment to the liberation movement. Leaving South Africa in 1959, he went first to London, and then, four years later, to Dublin, to take up a junior lectureship in law at Trinity College. He taught there for 27 years, becoming a senior lecturer, until his return to South Africa after the ANC's unbanning in 1990. Over the course of his career, he gained a teacher's diploma in Natal, a BA by correspondence from the University of South Africa, LLB and LLM from the London School of Economics, MA from Dublin University, and qualified as a barrister at Lincoln's Inn, London; King's Inn, Dublin; and the South African supreme court.
Within months of his arrival in London, Kader launched his protests against what was happening in South Africa with the Boycott Movement; the following year he helped found the British Anti-Apartheid Movement; and in 1963 the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement, which he chaired from 1972 to 1991.
He was also vice-president of the International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa (1966-81), and co-founder and president of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (1976‑90). Active in support of the feminist movement, he was the only Irish lawyer willing and able to discuss the legal aspects of abortion at a Dublin conference.
In 1979, he served as a member of the International Commission of Inquiry into the Crimes of the Apartheid Regime, and in 1982 was rapporteur of the International Commission of Inquiry into Violations of International Law by Israel. He was also associated with the UN inquiry into the refugee camp massacres at Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon in 1982.
On the ANC's constitutional committee from its founding in 1986, he helped develop a new constitution for South Africa, and returned to his homeland in 1990. He was a member of the ANC's negotiating team for the changeover from apartheid, was elected to its national executive committee, and was professor of human rights law at the University of the Western Cape till 1994, when he was elected to parliament.
Possessed of an insatiable appetite for campaigning, he immersed himself in numerous other South African and foreign committees. In 1995, he was appointed by the World Conservation Union and the World Bank to chair a new body, the World Commission on Dams. He wrote two books and more than 150 articles on apartheid, labour law, Ireland and decolonisation.
Short, bespectacled, a quick thinker and a cricket-lover – as a youngster, he organised a boycott of segregated clubs – he was always affable, chain-smoking through conversations, while reaching for the occasional whisky. Once, when I interviewed him in his ministerial office in Cape Town at 9.30am, he asked me, hopefully, "Bit too early for a snifter, I suppose?"
Kader believed the world could be changed by sheer willpower: he cracked heads, cajoled, pushed, praised. He could be irascible, even withering, but in spite of intermittent asthma, other ailings and a punishing lifestyle, he never faltered in his belief that ideas could be pushed through to conclusions.
His wife, Louise, an Englishwoman whom he had met during his stay in Britain, was an active stabilising force behind the scenes in much of what he did. She survives him, as do their two sons and two grandchildren.

Richard Pine writes: As in South Africa, so too in Ireland, Kader Asmal was a rebel who became a leader. I had the pleasure and privilege of being taught by him at Trinity College in the late 1960s. A provocative lecturer, he would entertain any kind of deviance in classroom debate, if it provided an inroad into the subject we were supposed to be studying – administrative law. I remember his delight when told that the earliest traceable law regarding arrest without warrant dated from the time of Henry VIII, allowing a citizen's arrest if one came upon two clergymen brawling in a churchyard.
Kader was widely admired in Ireland as the founder of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, and it was his evident concern for the underdog – deepened by his knowledge of the Irish experience – that won him public acclaim. I remember him being unsurprised, but deeply disturbed, by the murder in 1982 of his friend Ruth First, author of 117 Days, the account of her detention and interrogation by South African police. It was one of those turning points which oriented him towards his eventual return to South Africa in the pursuit of justice. Irish people continued to follow his career with pride.

Abdul Kader Asmal, politician, lawyer and academic, born 8 October 1934; died 22 June 2011

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Mike Waterson

The Watersons
Mike Waterson, far left, with John Harrison and Lal and Norma Waterson.

For almost five decades, the Waterson family had an enormous influence within and beyond the British folk music scene. At the core were three siblings – Norma, her sister Lal (who died in 1998) and her brother Mike Waterson, who has died of cancer, aged 70.
As the seminal traditional folk group of the 1960s, with Mike as the male lead singer, the Watersons toured the country with traditional English songs in harmony and largely unaccompanied, breaking the mould of guitar and banjo-led folk groups. They appeared at folk festivals and clubs and recorded three solo albums in as many years before retiring in 1968, only to return with less punishing touring schedules in 1972.
In the intervening years, Mike and Lal revealed themselves to be significant songwriters, and though Mike's songs never achieved the popular success of his sister's, their hard-hitting topics and humorous reflections on everyday life have been widely praised.
The Waterson family came from Hull. Mike, Lal and Norma were orphaned when very young, and their grandmother Eliza Ward looked after the children. She was a tough but kind character who ran her own business as a secondhand goods dealer, and was helped in raising the children by a family friend, Thirza – later immortalised in Lal's Song for Thirza.
Mike's schooldays were not a great success. His worst subjects were music and woodwork – ironic given that he later earned a living in the building trade and as a singer. Music was an essential part of family parties, and when Norma's boyfriend, later her first husband, introduced them to jazz and to Alan Lomax's blues recordings, it set the three siblings on a path that led them to traditional British folk music.
But first there was skiffle and the American folk influences of Pete Seeger and the Weavers. Mike and Lal sang together as a duo, the Mariners. Then, with Norma, their cousin John Harrison and a friend, Pete Ogley, they became the Folksons. When Ogley left, they rebranded as the Waterson Family, later the Watersons, and dropped the American repertoire in favour of British and, increasingly, Yorkshire songs, largely delivered a capella.
They had already started a folk club in Hull, Folk Union One, which settled into the city's biggest pub room at the Blue Bell, but it was a weekend trip to London in 1964, when they sang at the Troubadour folk club, Earl's Court, that attracted the attention of Topic Records' recording engineer Bill Leader, and they were included in the album New Voices (1965) alongside Harry Boardman and Maureen Craik.
The impact was immediate. Within a few months, they had turned professional and their first solo album, Frost and Fire, had been released. With considerable influence from Topic's artistic adviser, AL Lloyd, this album of English seasonal songs established them as the foremost folk band in the country. Mike's solo song on that album, the traditional John Barleycorn, was later taken up by the rock band Traffic on their 1970 album John Barleycorn Must Die.
The following year, 1966, saw two more Watersons albums released on Topic, including A Yorkshire Garland, featuring songs from their native county. The same year, their singing was documented on a BBC2 programme, Travelling for a Living, which showed them on tour, in their own folk club and researching songs in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library in London. These were boom years for the British folk scene, and Mike was the lead singer of such songs as Three Score and Ten, Dido Bendigo and Fathom the Bowl, which, along with The White Cockade and The Holmfirth Anthem, quickly passed into the repertoires of folk club and festival singers.
Exhausted by relentless touring, in early 1968 the group disbanded. Mike returned to work as a painter and decorator, but continued singing for fun, often alongside his friend Ian Manuel. Together they started the Rugby Hotel folk club in Hull.
Mike started writing his own songs and soon found that Lal was doing likewise. They swapped songs and ideas, and their collaboration culminated in an album, Bright Phoebus (1972), which caused more than a few raised eyebrows among traditional folksong enthusiasts. Although most of the songs on the album came from Lal, Mike provided the two most enduring ones: Rubber Band (later covered by Fairport Convention) and the title track. Their jointly written song Danny Rose was recorded by Billy Bragg.
The Watersons reformed in 1972 when Norma returned home from Montserrat, and her new husband, the folk singer Martin Carthy, replaced Harrison in the family group. The new lineup's first album, For Pence and Spicy Ale, became Melody Maker's folk album of the year in 1975. Their appearance at the American bicentennial celebrations the following year, where they heard a variety of religious music, inspired them to record an album of such songs, Sound, Sound Your Instruments of Joy (1977). The album Green Fields followed in 1981, once again highlighting the family's organic, often improvised harmonies. By now, the extended family had relocated from Hull to a farm near Robin Hood's Bay, North Yorkshire.
In the meantime, Mike had recorded an eponymous solo album in 1977, with vocal support from the family. The standout track was his reworking of Tamlyn, a supernatural ballad he had learned from Lloyd. It was Mike's version that inspired Benjamin Zephaniah to rewrite the story in a modern setting for The Imagined Village album and tour in 2007.
Lal's decision to stop touring in the late 1980s marked the end of the Watersons, though Mike sang for a while in a trio with his wife, Ann, and Jill Pidd. Martin and Norma had teamed up with their daughter, Eliza Carthy, and were sometimes joined on stage by Mike. In more recent years, Mike occasionally sang alongside the Gateshead singer Louis Killen. Two of his daughters, Rachel and Eleanor, have sung with various family lineups, including at the Mighty River of Song concert, celebrating the family's legacy, at the Royal Albert Hall in 2007.
Drawing on Hull's fishing industry, Mike wrote Three Day Millionaire, about the potential wages of trawlermen, contrasting it with the declining industry and the tragedy of lost lives in Cold Coast of Iceland and Three Ships. His ability to tell a story in song is perhaps best illustrated by A Stitch in Time, where a woman uses her seamstress's skills to sew her drunken and violent husband into his bed sheets so that he cannot move. The song has been recorded by Martin Carthy as well as Christy Moore and Chumbawamba, though not by Mike himself. Indeed, in recent years, he resisted Topic Records' suggestions to re-enter the recording studio.
Whether it was an informal folk club gig or the Royal Albert Hall, Mike invariably appeared on stage dressed in chunky sweater, jeans and cloth cap. This was no affectation – here was an ordinary man, still working in the building trade, but with extraordinary talents as a singer and songwriter. His last stage performance was at the Bromyard folk festival in September 2010, shortly after a family homecoming concert at Hull Truck theatre.
Mike is survived by Ann and four children, Sarah, Eleanor, Rachel and Matthew.

Michael Waterson, folk singer, born 16 January 1941; died 22 June 2011

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

World's oldest person dies aged 114 - Brazilian Maria Gomes Valentim

Maria Gomes Valentim
Maria Gomes Valentim's husband died in 1946.
A Brazilian woman officially recognised as the world's oldest person has died just weeks from her 115th birthday. The title now reverts to a woman in the United States.
Maria Gomes Valentim died of multiple organ failure, said Helerson Lima, a spokesman for the nursing home where she lived. Valentim would have turned 115 on 9 July.
An update on the Guinness World Records website said Valentim, "the first Brazilian super-centenarian to hold the title", died at the age of 114 years, 347 days. On 18 May, Guinness determined that Valentim was 48 days older than the person previously considered the world's oldest, Besse Cooper from Monroe, Georgia.
"With Maria's passing, the title of oldest living person reverts back to American Besse Cooper, age 114 years 299 days," Guinness said. The Georgia woman's son, Sid Cooper, said his mother was doing well at her Monroe retirement community.
"She's gained some weight, she's eating real good," he said. "Her memory is still really good. She remembers things from a long time ago and recognises people."
Guinness verified that Valentim was born on 9 July 1896, in the city of Carangola in the south-eastern state of Minas Gerais, where she lived all her life.
Last month, Guinness Valentim, who was known as Grandma Quita, attributed her longevity to a healthy diet: eating a roll of bread every morning with coffee, fruit and the occasional milk with linseed.
Valentim's family told reporters she had a stubborn streak and always made a habit of minding her own business. They also said that her father lived to be 100.
"She says she has lived long because she has always taken care of her own life – and not meddled in the lives of others," granddaughter Jane Ribeiro Moraes, 63, told a local newspaper in May.
Valentim married her husband, Joao, in 1913. He died in 1946. She is survived by four grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren. Her only son died aged 75 in the early 1990s

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Brian Haw

Haw in 2005.
Haw at his Parliament Square camp in 2005. Some saw it as an eyesore and others as an integral patch of democracy.
Brian Haw, who has died aged 62 after being treated for lung cancer, was a tenacious peace campaigner who in 2001 took up residence in Parliament Square, beneath a banner that read "Stop Killing My Kids", and refused to relinquish his patch for nearly 10 years.
Haw travelled from his home in Redditch, Worcestershire, to Westminster on 2 June that year, moved to publicise the effects of British sanctions on Iraq. Days of praying and fasting turned into months of protest as Haw outlasted others who had brought their temporary grievances to the pavement opposite the Houses of Parliament. Soon, he was no longer protesting about sanctions, but against the build-up to the war in Iraq, then the war itself, and the occupation that followed. When he finally left the pavement in March 2011, he was still warning onlookers and passers-by of the effects of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Haw was born in Woodford Green, Essex, and grew up in Whitstable, Kent, where he had his first experiences of an evangelical church at the age of 11. His father, a wartime sniper in the Reconnaissance Corps, had been one of the first to enter the Bergen-Belsen camp after it was liberated and his experiences were partly, Haw said, what led him to take his own life when his son was 13. Haw was apprenticed to a boatbuilder, then joined the merchant navy and eventually saw the Suez Canal and Bombay, "and if those people were here now, they'd say: 'Is all this pavement yours? You're living like a king'," he said in 2002.
His camp at Westminster varied in size over the years and was labelled both an eyesore and an integral patch of democracy. Day after day, it was home to a man whose life was protest, and whose talent was survival in a harsh landscape of exhaust fumes and police scrutiny. Haw spent hours speaking to supporters, detractors and those who stood quietly surveying photos of dead Iraqi children. His battered banners became a visual counterpoint to the usual tourist snaps of Whitehall. Their variety and colourful insistence was not lost on the artist Mark Wallinger, who won the 2007 Turner prize with a piece entitled State Britain, a recreation of Haw's display.
Haw was guided by his fervent Christian beliefs, and aided at times by practical pieces of equipment, including a cheap megaphone. No one who worked in Whitehall, from the prime minister down, could remain unaware of his presence. His shouted slogan, "45 minutes, Mr Bliar", was so loud it led to objections by MPs. In 2002, Westminster city council tried unsuccessfully to remove Haw's camp, but his greatest legal challenge came in 2005 when the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act was passed, banning any public protest within one kilometre of Parliament Square. Particularly troubling for Haw was Section 132, which would allow police to remove any permanent protesters in the square. ("Serious organised crime?" Haw asked. "Do they really think I'm the Godfather?") Haw won an application for judicial review of the act as it required all protests to have authorisation from the police "when the demonstration starts", and his had already been going for a long time. He gained permission to stay, subject to conditions regarding the size of his display.
His closest supporters, who furnished Haw with sandwiches and cigarettes over the years, would class him as another in the line of tenacious Christian protesters bearing witness. Haw himself was puzzled that so few others could spare the time to come to Parliament Square. He saved some anger for those who thought a single march in 2003 would force the government to stop its involvement in Iraq. In his view, if 100,000 people had arrived and refused to move for a week, war would have been averted. It wasn't so hard, Haw said, just to come and sit in front of this place and protest.
Haw was uncomfortable speaking about the practical nature of his life on the pavement. Questions about survival, sleeping habits, showers, the fumes and police presence were often ignored or deflected. Over the years his skin became leathery. His nose was broken twice. The 10 years took their toll, and some questioned whether his protest had become ineffective.
What was impossible to question was Haw's combination of friendliness and bloody-mindedness, his insistence that it was not impossible to be heard, to challenge courts, to remind those in power of the consequences of their actions. Haw angered some, mystified others, and continued to prowl the pavement, even on crutches, wearing a hat covered in badges, with slogans such as "Keep My Muslim Neighbours Safe". Years into the protest, the battered hat looked as if it was more badge than corduroy.
"I don't mind them," Haw said in 2002 when asked about the mice that appeared in the square around dusk. He pointed a finger towards parliament. "It's the rats over there on the other side we have to look out for." Haw was father to seven children with his wife Kay, who divorced him in 2003.

Brian William Haw, peace campaigner, born 7 January 1949; died 18 June 2011

Monday, 20 June 2011

Frederick Chiluba

Frederick Chiluba in 1997. He was a born-again Christian.

Frederick Chiluba, who has died aged 68 after a heart attack, was a trade unionist who became the president of Zambia in the country's first multi-party election. His decade in office was notable for high-profile corruption scandals, marriages to two of Zambia's most prominent politicians, and a noticeable taste for high-heeled shoes. He was 5ft tall.
Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia's president since independence in 1964, had made it a one-party state in 1972. It was the stalwart ally of all southern Africa's liberation movements, and its capital, Lusaka, was home to the headquarters of the exiled African National Congress. Bombing, incursions and destabilisation from Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and South Africa did much to ruin the economy. After the dismantling of apartheid began in 1990, western governments were keen to see new leaders in power, especially in countries where opposition to apartheid South Africa had been the key policy of the old leaders.
So when Chiluba formed a new party, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), it was openly backed by the US under President George Bush, with the promise that aid to Zambia would be resumed if Kaunda was defeated. In 1991 Chiluba stunned Africa by winning the presidency, and he set in train a liberalisation of the economy that took him a long way from his trade union roots.
The privatisation of the copper mines was ill-managed, and the introduction of a free-market economy left three-quarters of the population as poor as ever.
Between Kaunda and Chiluba, bad feelings were intense and personal. Kaunda left State House with no home to go to, and it took a private Commonwealth intervention to persuade Chiluba that the former head of state must be given somewhere to live. Kaunda had famously referred to Chiluba as the "4ft dwarf", though this was nothing compared with the comments of other Zambian politicians, who openly mocked not only his size, but his personal extravagance and alleged corruption.
In 1997, Chiluba imprisoned Kaunda for allegedly conspiring in a coup plot against him. Chiluba released him only after pressure from Africa's elder statesmen, Kaunda's peers, Nelson Mandela and Julius Nyerere. He also tried to strip Kaunda of his citizenship, and even attempted to deport the former president on the grounds that he was actually from Malawi. He then amended the constitution in order to stop citizens with foreign parentage from standing for the presidency, aimed at disqualifying Kaunda, whose father came from Zaire, from any attempt to return to politics.
Chiluba won a second term in 1996, and then attempted, unsuccessfully, to change the constitution to allow himself to run for a third term. The initiative found no support in parliament, and in 2002 he was succeeded by his vice president, Levy Mwanawasa.
Chiluba was born in the city of Kitwe, in the copper belt which was of central importance to Zambia's economy. He was expelled from secondary school for political activities, worked as a sisal cutter, a bus driver, a city councillor and an accounts assistant, before becoming a trade union leader. He became prominent as chairman of the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) when, in 1981, with several other leaders, he was detained by Kaunda for calling a wildcat strike that paralysed most of the economy. Ten years later, with the end of the cold war, which had been a key factor in Africa's history, multiparty politics became the fashion for the continent.
After his departure from the presidency, another serious falling out at the top of Zambian politics occurred, and Chiluba was indicted on 100 charges of corruption by siphoning public money into private bank accounts in London. He had by then divorced his wife of 33 years, Vera, a politician, as was his new, third wife, Regina. She, too, was charged with corruption. Chiluba was barred from leaving the country after his two co-defendants fled abroad. His trial dragged on for six years until after Mwanawasa's death in 2008, when the presidency passed to Chiluba's close friend Rupiah Banda. Chiluba was acquitted the following year.
Another corruption case had been heard in Britain, and in May 2007 Chiluba was found guilty of stealing $46m in a civil case brought by the Zambian attorney general concerning shares and property bought in Britain. The high court judge Mr Justice Peter Smith accused Chiluba of shamelessly defrauding his people and flaunting his wealth with an expensive wardrobe of "stupendous proportions". It was in connection with this case that it was revealed that a Swiss shop had supplied him with more than 100 pairs of size 6 shoes with two-inch heels, many monogrammed. Chiluba continued to plead his innocence and refused to recognise the verdict of Smith, whom he accused of having been bribed by the government of his successor.
Chiluba was a born-again Christian. Immediately after his corruption case in Zambia ended and he was acquitted and able to travel again, he made his first trip outside the country to return to the controversial Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in Lagos, Nigeria, almost a decade after his first visit when president. After sitting through a 10-hour service, which included the deliverance and rehabilitation of several armed robbers, as well as a thanksgiving service for the recently concluded Fifa U-17 World Cup, Chiluba was full of praises to God for the church's leader, Prophet TB Joshua, and its Emmanuel television channel, which he said he watched daily with his wife.
Chiluba ascribed what he called Zambia's successes under his leadership to his having declared it a Christian country. He is survived by Regina and his 11 children.

• Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba, politician, born 30 April 1943; died 18 June 2011

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Clarence Clemons, Springsteen saxophone player, dies

Clarence Clemons (L) grabs Bruce Springsteen during an appearance in New York in September 2007 Clemons (left) and Springsteen worked together for nearly 40 years

Clarence Clemons, the saxophone player in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, has died, aged 69, a spokeswoman for the band has said.
Clemons was taken to hospital about a week ago after suffering a stroke at his home in Singer Island, in the US state of Florida.
Known as the Big Man for his 6ft 5in frame, Clemons was credited with shaping the early sound of The Boss.
His solos powered Springsteen hits such as Born to Run and Jungleland.
'Immeasurable' loss Springsteen spokeswoman Marilyn Laverty confirmed the death on Saturday.
On his website, Springsteen said the loss of Clemons was "immeasurable" and that he and his bandmates were honoured to have stood beside him for nearly 40 years.
The statement said: "Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him."
It added: "He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage."
Clemons had suffered from poor health in recent years, including major spinal surgery in January 2010.
At the 2009 Super Bowl, following double knee replacement surgery, he rose from a wheelchair to perform with Springsteen.
In May this year Clemons, a former youth councillor, was well enough to perform with Lady Gaga on the finale of the television show American Idol.
Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Clemons began playing saxophone at the age of nine after receiving one unexpectedly from his father for Christmas.
"I wanted an electric train for Christmas, but he got me a saxophone. I flipped out," he told the Associated Press news agency in a 1989 interview.
After his dreams of being a football player were dashed by a car accident, he turned to music.
Clemons hit it off immediately with Springsteen, then a singer-songwriter from New Jersey, when they first met in 1971, and the saxophonist became an original member of the E Street Band.
Their friendship survived Springsteen's decision to concentrate on solo projects following the success of his album Born in the USA.
In a 2009 interview, Clemons described his deep bond with The Boss, saying: "It's the most passion that you have without sex."
As well as TV and movie appearances over the years, Clemons performed with the Grateful Dead, the Jerry Garcia Band, and Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band.
He also recorded with legendary musical artists such as Aretha Franklin, Roy Orbison and Jackson Browne.
And he jammed with former US President Bill Clinton at the 1993 inaugural ball.
Clemons published a memoir, Big Man: Real Life and Tall Tales, in 2009.
The saxophonist once described performing as his natural environment.
The stage, said the Baptist minister's grandson, "always feels like home - it's where I belong".

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Jack Smith

jack smith
Smith in 1974. He was 'a true visionary, refusing to make concessions to tastefulness, or mere picture-making'.

Jack Smith, who has died aged 82, was one of four artists known as the Beaux Arts quartet in the early 1950s. The other three were John Bratby, Derrick Greaves and Edward Middleditch. All were realists, which was practically a condition for exhibiting at Helen Lessore's famously homely Beaux Arts gallery in Bruton Place, central London, where all had solo shows. All fine and good, until the critic David Sylvester published an article in the December 1954 issue of Encounter magazine about neorealist painters, of whom the Beaux Arts foursome were the focus. The troublesome heading was "The Kitchen Sink". Instantly, the four painters unwillingly became the kitchen sink school.
Encounter illustrated the article with Bratby's Still Life With Chip Frier and Smith's Children and Dog (the emblematic kitchen sink painting), in which Smith showed a scruffy little girl and a woebegone dog playing on uncovered floorboards beside a table littered with the debris of a meal and, for the sake of still life rather than realism, scattered groups of fruit and vegetables. Sylvester withheld approval: "The kitchen is furnished like a poor man's kitchen," he wrote, "but the painter might equally well have been painting a rich man's drawing room for all the difference it would have made." (As it happened, the kitchen was part of the Buckinghamshire house that Smith shared with Greaves, the sculptor of brilliant bricolages George Fullard, and their families.)
Worse than Sylvester's chilly disapproval was John Berger's warm embrace. Berger, who was feuding with Sylvester, and most other critics, in the 1950s proclaimed the kitchen sink group as artists who, in effect, were helping the working classes to achieve their inheritance. Smith at one point remarked that had he been born in a castle, he would be painting pictures of chandeliers, which constituted a rebuff to both Sylvester and Berger. In any case, Smith and Bratby were equally appalled at the kitchen sink label. Greaves had already moved away from realism by the time Sylvester's article appeared ("I was a teenage social realist," he later quipped). Middleditch developed a form of darkly imaginative abstraction.
While all this was happening, Smith had only recently (1952) graduated from the Royal College of Art. He was born in Sheffield and educated there at Netheredge grammar school before moving on to Sheffield college of art in 1944. In 1946 he was called up for national service in the RAF, somehow contriving to combine being a teleprinter operator with servicing flying boats. St Martin's School of Art in London followed in 1948 and, from 1950, the RCA, where two of his tutors, John Minton and Carel Weight, undoubtedly encouraged his inclination to paint subjects from his own life.
In 1956 Smith married Sue Halkett, and showed a group of five paintings in the British Pavilion in the Venice Biennale, alongside the other three Beaux Arts realists, the abstractionist Ivon Hitchens and the sculptor Lynn Chadwick.
The following year, he won first prize at the first John Moores exhibition in Liverpool, with his remarkable canvas Creation and Crucifixion, an apotheosis of all the kitchen tables and chairs, all the plank floors, all the wet shirts hanging on clothes lines he had ever painted bathed in an intense, dreamlike light. This was where he had been going. It was more Stanley Spencer than the early Van Gogh of The Potato Eaters to which his work had been compared, and it pointed, not to an art for the lucky proletariat, but to an inner vision that he was to express in extraordinary and singular abstracts, often compared to hieroglyphs or musical notations. It was an exploration that was to occupy him throughout the last 50 years of his life.
In 1965 the art director Bryan Robertson included him in the plush and – unusually for a wrist-breaking coffee table book – historically useful Private View, written with John Russell and with photographs by Lord Snowdon. Smith was, Robertson wrote, "a true visionary", uncompromising, and "refusing to make concessions to tastefulness, or mere picture-making". In 1971 Smith became the youngest to have a solo show at the Whitechapel Gallery. His change of direction had alienated Lessore, but in the following years he had shows at Marlborough Fine Art, Fischer Fine Art, the Mayor Gallery and the Grosvenor Gallery, among many others, as well as around the world. From 1990, Smith showed frequently at Flowers East in Kingsland Road, east London.
His wife, Sue, survives him.

• Jack Smith, artist, born 18 June 1928; died 11 June 2011

Friday, 17 June 2011

Tony Abrahams

Tony Abrahams
Tony Abrahams, then a young Jewish officer, led a force of Muslims to liberate an Orthodox Church holy site
My father, Tony Abrahams, who has died aged 87, dedicated his life to education. He founded four language schools; helped to create Seaspeak, the international language of the sea; was chairman of governors at Stepney Green comprehensive school in east London; and served as chairman of the Harpur Trust, which runs several schools in Bedford.
After graduating from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, Tony was called to the bar, but in the 1960s gave up the law. He recognised that there was a huge and growing demand around the globe for the English language, but that there was no proper training, career structure or support system for teachers of English as a foreign language. In response, he founded an organisation now known as the CfBT Education Trust, which is currently one of the top 30 UK charities by revenue.
Over the decades, CfBT has employed more than 10,000 teachers. It offered scholarships to enable them to take further degrees in applied linguistics or educational management; set up a distance-learning MA in linguistics; and, with Birmingham University, created a BPhil (Ed) in teaching English as a foreign language.
Education had been fundamental to the integration of Tony's family into British society. His grandfather had moved to the UK from eastern Europe and never learned to read or write English, but four of his six children went to Cambridge University, two were knighted and one was a privy counsellor.
Born in Zanzibar, Tony served with the Indian army during the second world war, and in the SAS during the late 1940s. In 1945, as a young Jewish officer, he led a taskforce of Muslim Pathans to liberate Mount Athos, one of the most holy sites in the Orthodox Church. It was an adventure of which he was very proud, and an account was published recently by the Friends of Mount Athos.
He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; by three children – Anthony, Viveca and myself – from his previous marriage; and by five grandchildren.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

MF Husain

MF Husain
MF Husain produced up to 40,000 paintings but his defenders could do little to stem the tide of attacks.
The painter MF Husain mastered not only the techniques of line and colour, but also those of becoming a superstar of modern Indian art. Everything about him was played out on the largest scale: his obsessions with personalities such as the former prime minister Indira Gandhi, Mother Teresa or the Bollywood heroine Madhuri Dixit; his passionate incursions into Hindu religion and mythology; the size of the canvases that he loved executing in front of audiences; or his trademark style of vast, serial productions.
Phenomenal, too, were the prices of his paintings at international auctions and the energy with which the artist, in his 90s, travelled the world while an unceasing Hindu rightwing vendetta against his output prevented his return to his homeland.
A resident of Dubai since 2006, Husain moved frequently between there, New York and London, where he has died at the age of 95 after a heart attack. He had recently been working on a series sponsored by the steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal on the history of Indian civilisation from 2600BC to the present; a sequence of 99 paintings on Arabic and Islamic civilisation, commissioned by Sheikha Mozah of Qatar; and another series on his favourite subject, the history of Indian cinema.

MF Husain painting  
The controversial painting by MF Husain known as Bharat Mata (Mother India), though the artist maintained that the title did not come from him. That the nation's leading modern artist had to spend the last years of his life in self-imposed exile, taking Qatari citizenship in 2010, was a matter of regret to many in India. His painting of a nude Hindu goddess, Saraswati, became the target of protests in 1996. But for all their invocations of the rich precedents of nudity in India's art history and religious iconography, Husain's defenders could do little to stem the tide of attacks – notably over the internet – on more and more of his images. Further outrage followed his unclothed female figuration of the national map – the title of Bharat Mata (Mother India) did not come from him, he maintained – in 2006. Later that year, with criminal charges pending against him and threats to his life and property, the artist left India for good.
Faultlessly secular and a great promoter of Indian identity, Husain never let his Muslim background stand in the way of his celebration of what he saw as his own heritage of Hindu myth and religion. With his usual aplomb, he turned his back on his detractors and continued to paint in the name of his multireligious India elsewhere.
He often expressed his desire to go back. However, despite supreme court rulings in 2008 exonerating him, and despite the money and glamour he had brought to Indian art, propelling it to great international success, fear of controversy and vandalism stood in the way of moves to encourage his return.
Born into a large, working-class Suleimani Muslim family in the Vaishnava (Hindu) temple town of Pandharpur, now in western Maharashtra, Maqbool Fida Husain grew up with a limited formal education. He dabbled in Urdu poetry and took evening classes in painting, but his father, who for some of the time worked in a mill, and stepmother were unable to support him in taking up a place at the Sir JJ School of Art in Bombay (Mumbai).
So when he did move to the city at the age of 20, it was as a cinema hoarding painter. In 1947, the year of India's independence, the artist Francis Newton Souza invited Husain to join the Bombay Progressive Artists' Group, which provided him with an arena for the shaping of a modernist vocabulary. Opportunities to exhibit in Bombay followed, and during the 1950s Husain began to receive international recognition. Though the progressive group eventually dispersed – Souza made his career in London, and Syed Haider Raza in Paris – Husain remained steadfastly in Bombay, becoming a household name.
Awards such as the Padma Shri (1955), Padma Bhushan (1973) and Padma Vibhushan (1991) cemented his status. Abroad, he won a Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival in 1967 for Through the Eyes of a Painter, and in 1971 was invited to show his works alongside those of Pablo Picasso at the São Paolo Biennale.
As well as delving into the Hindu epic poems, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and making capital out of many living politicians and cultural figures, Husain's projection of himself as the national artist drew him to popular outlets. These included putting his signature sketches on restaurant walls and textiles, producing nude images of female film stars, and launching his own much-hyped film ventures – Gaja Gamini with Dixit in 2000 and Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities with the actress Tabu in 2004 – both of which flopped at the box office.
By this late phase of his career, Husain had become to many a jaded star on the contemporary Indian art scene, with what they saw as his outdated, overdone, repetitive brand of national modernism. There were strong criticisms, in particular, of his sycophantic paintings of Indira Gandhi as the goddess Durga during the state of emergency of 1975-76, of his courting of rich patrons and of his penchant for gimmickry and showmanship.
Left to his own devices, the ageing barefoot artist would have carried on as prolifically as ever – he produced quite possibly between 30,000 and 40,000 paintings – ensconced in the past to which he belonged. But the wave of bigotry that bore down on him from the mid-1990s kept Husain in the headlines. Even after his departure, he continued to dominate the national imagination, both for those he outraged and for those who saw him as a great secular cause. Stock can now be taken of the art that he did so much to shape, while refusing to accept limitations on his freedom of expression.
Husain's wife, Fazila, whom he married in 1941, predeceased him, as did one of their children. He is survived by four sons and two daughters.

• Maqbool Fida Husain, artist, born 17 September 1915; died 9 June 2011

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Gunnar Fischer

Summer With Monika, photographed by Gunnar Fischer
Harriet Andersson and Lars Ekborg in Summer With Monika, photographed by Gunnar Fischer. 
The Swedish cinematographer Gunnar Fischer, who has died aged 100, could be said to have created the "look" of Ingmar Bergman's films, crystallised in three of the director's masterpieces: Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries (both 1957). From Port of Call (1948) to The Devil's Eye (1960), 12 films in all, Fischer was able to make visible Bergman's visions.
He was born in Ljungby, in southern Sweden. After spending three years in the Swedish navy as a chef, he attended the Royal Academy of Art in Stockholm, where he studied with the celebrated decorative artist Otte Sköld. He had an apprenticeship in cinematography at Svensk Filmindustri (SF), the country's leading production company. His mentor there was the cinematographer Julius Jaenzon, who worked with the two great masters of Swedish silent cinema, Victor Sjöström and Mauritz Stiller. This put Fischer in the direct line of the Scandinavian cinematic tradition of the close relationship between the landscape and climate and the psychology of the characters.
His education was further developed by his work with the great Danish-born Carl Dreyer on Two People (1945), only his third film as director of photography. Despite the fact that this virtual two-hander, mostly set in an apartment, was disowned by Dreyer, Fischer claimed that it was a turning point in his understanding of stark lighting.

Gunnar Fischer 
Gunnar Fischer's collaboration with Ingmar Bergman lasted from Port of Call (1948) to The Devil's Eye (1960) 
  He was unable to practise what he had learned from Dreyer in Port of Call, because it belonged to Bergman's short neorealist period. The picture, about a tormented delinquent girl who turns to a slow-thinking young sailor for love, was largely shot, with Roberto Rossellini in mind, on location in the Gothenburg docks, in a rare attempt by the director to strike an almost documentary tone.
Bergman and Fischer's first mature collaboration was Summer Interlude (1950), in which a prima ballerina looks back on the idyllic summer she spent several years before on an island near Stockholm with the boy she loved. The affair comes to an abrupt and tragic end when he is killed in an accident. Fischer's camera wonderfully captures the limpid Swedish summer in the early, lyrical love scenes, shifting to more shaded lighting for the present.
Even more rapturous was Summer With Monika (1952), where an irresponsible teenage girl spends her holiday on an island with a young clerk, but gets pregnant and leaves him holding the baby. Bergman sees little hope for these adolescents in the winter of their discontent after a summer made glorious by Fischer's camera.
It is no accident that three of Bergman's films have "summer" in the title, and many others were set in that season, the only period of happiness for his characters before the encroachment of autumn and reality, the camera brilliantly recording the transient sun-soaked days. For the charmed comedy of manners Smiles of a Summer Night, which mostly takes place at a country mansion over a weekend during which couples meet, separate and exchange partners, Fischer created sensuous, back-lit twilights.
Sometimes Fischer intentionally overexposed the film to achieve a hallucinatory or dreamlike effect, as in Wild Strawberries. The shift from past to present, from memory to reality to dream, is signified by sharp contrasts in light. "I brought to Bergman a fantasy-like style," he explained. "It wasn't about making the scenes realistic but more theatrical, like a saga." In The Seventh Seal, whose luminous images derived from early church paintings, the change from one moral world to another is conveyed through lighting: a bright natural light indicates characters at peace, while heavy filters and backlighting indicate moral doubt.
In the sequence when the medieval knight plays chess with Death, Fischer used two powerful lights to throw the actors into sharp relief, which made it appear that the sky had two suns. When criticised for this, he responded: "If you can accept the fact that there is a knight sitting on a beach playing chess with Death, you should be able to accept that the sky has two suns."
Fischer and Bergman parted company after The Devil's Eye, which switched between an extremely theatrical Hell and the realism of a pastor's household, when the director failed to persuade the cinematographer to soften his lighting techniques. "I felt privileged collaborating with Bergman," Fischer recalled. "He was never indifferent to photography. He could be upset if he didn't like what he saw. Why our collaboration ended with The Devil's Eye, I don't really know. Realistically it's most likely that he thought Sven Nykvist was a better photographer." Thus began the Bergman-Nykvist era, the stylistic change demonstrating how influential the two cinematographers were to the director's oeuvre.
Away from Bergman, Fischer worked on more mainstream movies. For some of these, he was able to use colour, such as The Pleasure Garden (1961), with a screenplay by Bergman, which was among the four films he made with Alf Kjellin. One of the rare films on which Fischer worked for a non-Swedish director was Anthony Asquith's Two Living, One Dead (1961) a low-key film noir, shot entirely in Sweden with a largely British cast (including Patrick McGoohan and Virginia McKenna) but a mostly Swedish crew. Fischer also experimented with video techniques to record a series of provincial circus acts for Jacques Tati's Parade (1974). After his retirement from the cinema in 1975, Fischer lectured on film lighting.
He is survived by his sons, Jens and Peter, who are both cinematographers. His wife, Gull, the sister of the actor Åke Söderblom, died in 2005 after 67 years of marriage.

• Erling Gunnar Fischer, cinematographer, born 18 November 1910; died 11 June 2011

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

George Jamieson

George Jamieson
Throughout his career, George Jamieson displayed an interest in novel teaching methods

In 2007, my father, George Jamieson, who has died aged 97, received an award to recognise 75 years' continuous membership of the Labour party. George took a critical interest in international and national social, economic and political affairs.
For many years he worked on committees of the Edinburgh Central Labour party, and also served as secretary of the Edinburgh Fabian Society for 25 years from 1962. Only poor eyesight and hearing in his later years restricted him from keeping abreast of the latest political news.
Born on a croft in Shetland in an era when running water, gas and electricity were still some decades away, George worked his way through the local primary in Uyeasound and Anderson high school in Lerwick. He won a final-year essay prize for a scholarly account of the social and economic development of the Shetland Islands during the previous 100 years.
George graduated with a BSc degree and a diploma in rural economy from Edinburgh University. By the late 1930s he had secured his first teaching post, at Kirkcaldy high school in Fife.
At the outbreak of the second world war, George joined the Royal Scots. Based on his experiences in the Army Educational Corps, he contributed to an academic study of young delinquent soldiers by Professor Joseph Trenaman, published as Out of Step in 1952.
Returning home in 1946 to his wife, Amy, whom he had married in 1941, and a young son, George taught in secondary schools in Selkirkshire and Midlothian before switching to primary schools. He retired from the headship of Stobhill primary school, Gorebridge, in 1978.
Throughout his teaching career George displayed an interest in novel teaching methods and technologies. He continued to embrace technology in retirement, acquiring his first computer in his late 80s, and was an accomplished email correspondent until the age of 95.
George had a longstanding interest in writing. He attended writing classes and made a modest impact with his short stories, which were published in local newspapers and magazines. Plants, both garden vegetables and arable crops, were always an interest. Except during the war years, he spent several weeks each summer inspecting the seed potato crop in north-east Scotland. George was always able to recognise potato varieties and, particularly, their diseases. Moving from his house with a garden when he was 92 was a great blow to him.
Hill-walking was one of his lifetime passions. George was a regular member of the Edinburgh Holiday Fellowship, taking his share of planning and leading group walks. Quite late in life, as opportunities for more foreign travel arose, he travelled to India, central Asia and South Africa. In his 70s he dabbled in cross-country skiing in Switzerland.
George is survived by Amy; my sister, Wendy, and me; two grandsons, Andrew and Matthew; and a great-granddaughter, Eva, who was born a month before he died.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Al-Qaida bomber Fazul Abdullah Mohammed killed

Fazul Abdullah Mohammed
An undated FBI photograph of Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, who was reported killed.
The terrorist behind the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in East Africa – the attack that brought al-Qaida to global attention – has been killed in Somalia. Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, who had a $5m price tag put on his head by American authorities, was one of the most wanted Islamist militants in the world.
The embassy attacks – in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania – killed more than 200 people and injured several thousand. The majority of the casualties were local African staff or passersby caught in the multiple explosions that destroyed the buildings.
Mohammed also organised the 2002 attacks on two Israeli targets, including the bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya, which killed 13 people, and an attempt to shoot down a passenger plane on a flight to Israel.
The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who was on a visit to Tanzania as news of the death broke, described the killing as a "significant blow to al-Qaida, its extremist allies, and its operations in east Africa".
"It is a just end for a terrorist who brought so much death and pain to so many innocents in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and elsewhere – Tanzanians, Kenyans, Somalis and our own embassy personnel," she said.
A senior American official in Washington said that his killing removed one of the group's "most experienced operational planners in east Africa and has almost certainly set back operations".
News of Mohammed's death comes just six weeks after the death of the al-Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden, in a US special forces raid in Pakistan. Last week Ilyas Kashmiri, another senior terrorist with ties to al-Qaida, was also reported to have been killed.
Kenyan police, who cited Somali officials, said Mohammed had been shot dead when he and an associate refused to stop at a checkpoint north-west of Mogadishu, the Somali capital, earlier this week. The dead man, thought to be aged 38, had a false passport and $40,000 in cash it was reported.
"We have confirmed he was killed by our police at a control checkpoint this week," Halima Aden, a senior national security officer in Somalia, told Reuters. "He had a fake South African passport and other documents. After thorough investigation, we confirmed it was him."
No independent confirmation of Mohammed's death was immediately available but the AFP news agency published images of the face of the dead man which resembled those previously published by American investigators. There was also some confusion over what had happened to Mohammed's remains, with reports saying they had been buried and others claiming they had been handed over to the American authorities.
Born in the Comoros Islands, off the coast of Mozambique, Mohammed was educated in Saudi Arabia before travelling to Afghanistan in the early 1990s. He is also thought to have been in Mogadishu in 1993 during fighting there. He narrowly escaped death in an American air strike in Somalia in 2007. American authorities have steadily tracked down almost all those responsible for the 1998 bombing attacks. Many were brought to trial in America in 2001.
The death of Mohammed will be a loss for al-Qaida in east Africa but is unlikely to have a significant impact on the overall capabilities of the hardline leadership element based in Pakistan. Like most regional branches of al-Qaida, even those violent Islamist extremists in east Africa who have sworn allegiance to Bin Laden have remained largely autonomous.
Various local factions have allied with al-Qaida, often for short-term pragmatic reasons, but few have built solid links. Mohammed was one of the few terrorists based in Africa who followed a genuinely global agenda and was willing to launch attacks on international targets.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Brian Lenihan, former Irish finance minister, dies at 52

Brian Lenihan dies
Brian Lenihan, the former Irish finance minister, died after a battle with pancreatic cancer

Ireland finance minister during the country's fiscal crisis, Brian Lenihan, has died of pancreatic cancer, it was announced on Friday.
Lenihan was returned as Dublin TD for the Republic's main opposition party, Fianna Fáil, which sustained historic losses in the Irish general election last February.
During his time as finance minister, the 52-year-old agreed the 100% bank guarantee and signed the bail-out deal with the IMF, the European Union and the European Central Bank.
He was a member of a political dynasty: his father, Brian, his brother, Conor, and his aunt, Mary O'Rourke, all served in Irish governments.
Lenihan had been fighting cancer since December 2009. He had undergone intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment at the Mater Hospital in Dublin.
He had also served as minister for justice and as the minister for children in previous Fianna Fáil administrations.
Since Fianna Fáil left government in March, he had continued to act as Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Ray Bryant

Ray Bryant in 1985. ‘Ray had a very sensitive feeling, a good touch and he could swing’.

The distinguished African-American pianist Ray Bryant, who has died aged 79 after a long illness, became a fixture of the jazz mainstream after enjoying a measure of chart success, mostly as the 1950s came to an end. Like many colleagues, he pointed to the grounding his family gave him for a versatile career as soloist, accompanist and composer.
His mother played the piano in church in his native city of Philadelphia, his elder brother, Tommy, was an accomplished bassist, and his younger brother, Len, is a singer and drummer. Their sister, Vera Eubanks, is a pianist and organist specialising in gospel music. Her three sons have gained fame in their own right, with the trombonist Robin Eubanks best known for his association with the bassist Dave Holland; Kevin, a guitarist, was, until recently, the bandleader on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on NBC television; and the trumpeter Duane Eubanks is a familiar freelance player on the New York scene.
Ray began classical piano studies at the age of six, and played that instrument in church, and the double-bass and tuba in his school band. "The greatness of jazz, which encompassed blues, gospel and other styles, always attracted me," he said. By his early teens, he was firmly in the jazz camp, having made his first (unreleased) recordings on piano at the age of 14 with Jimmy Johnson's band. The local tenor-saxophonists John Coltrane and Benny Golson were both on the recording, as was Tommy, and Ray became involved in the very active Philadelphia modernist scene.
His first professional job was with the bandleader Mickey Collins, who heard him taking his musicians' union entrance exams and hired him on the spot. He was still only 14. After a few years with Collins, Bryant joined Tiny Grimes and His Rocking Highlanders, an African-American rhythm and blues group who sported the full kilt and tam o'shanter, recording with them in 1949. He spent a year in Syracuse, New York state, playing solo engagements, leavening his initial Teddy Wilson and Art Tatum influences with a rumbling, two-handed gospel and blues undertow that became an enduring aspect of his style.
Bryant's breakthrough came in 1953, when he was taken on as house pianist at the Blue Note, then Philadelphia's leading jazz club. Visiting artists such as Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Sonny Rollins and Miles Davis encouraged him to seek his fortune in New York, and once there he began to record regularly for labels such as Blue Note and Prestige, including dates with Davis and Rollins.
It was for Prestige that he recorded most frequently, backing every significant modernist of the day during the late 1950s. It was also then that he demonstrated his ability to bridge the jazz generations, happy to double at the Metropole cafe on Seventh Avenue in the afternoons with such mainstream stalwarts as the saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and the trumpeter Roy Eldridge, before playing hard bop at night with his contemporaries Golson and the trumpeter Donald Byrd at the Five Spot. He saw nothing unusual in this, pointing out that he had also played Dixieland jazz at Billy Kretchmer's club in Philadelphia for a couple of years.
During this hugely busy period, Bryant acted as the singer Carmen McRae's accompanist for two years, performed briefly with Dizzy Gillespie's bands and joined the drummer Jo Jones's trio, with Tommy alongside. He then, largely at the instigation of the impresario John Hammond, formed his own trio, recording regularly for Columbia and often composing his own material, including the widely recorded Cubano Chant (1956) and the hit singles Little Susie (1959) and The Madison Time (1960), a novelty piece linked to a dance craze. In 1967 he found chart success with his version of Bobby Gentry's Ode to Billie Joe.
It was usually in a trio, duo or solo context that Bryant chose to perform and record for the remainder of his career, travelling regularly to Europe and playing at festivals including Brecon, with the guitarist Russell Malone, and appearing in London at Pizza Express and the theatre at University College school, Hampstead, now the Lund theatre. The veteran tenor-saxophonist Hal Singer, with whom Bryant recorded in 1960, said recently: "Ray had a very sensitive feeling, a good touch and he could swing." These qualities were still very much in evidence on his final solo concert recording, In the Back Room (2008).
Bryant is survived by his wife, Claude; his son, Raphael; a daughter, Gina; three grandchildren; and Len and another brother, Lynwood. Tommy died in 1982.

• Ray (Raphael Homer) Bryant, jazz pianist, born 24 December 1931; died 2 June 2011