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- #OBITUARY #obituaries #Eric #Bristow
The ‘Crafty Cockney’ who was darts world champion five times in the 1980s and whose charisma attracted legions of fans to the sport
During the 1980s darts was in its golden age, fuelled by new sponsorship deals and lucrative television contracts. Presiding over it all was the “Crafty Cockney”, Eric Bristow, world champion five times between 1980 and 1986 and a character whose gaudy charisma was central to the sport’s colonisation of the post-pub TV schedules.
Bristow, who has died of a heart attack at the age of 60, was supremely confident, flash but intensely professional, and though there were plenty of talented rivals such as Jocky Wilson and John Lowe, at his best he was unbeatable. When he won his third world title, in 1984, the commentator Sid Waddell, renowned for his flights of verbal fancy, declared, “When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer. Bristow’s only 27.”
While his delivery was slightly camp, little finger daintily crooked, there was an abrasive edge to Bristow’s wide-boy persona. He loved to wind up opponents with frowns and mocking gestures and he developed what was often a love-hate relationship with the crowds.
During one big match in 1982 he came under what a darts magazine called “the most sustained barrage of jeering witnessed at a darts match”. Each volley of abuse was followed by a treble 20.
He acquired his Crafty Cockney nickname after visiting an English-style pub of that name in Santa Monica, California, and his first world title soon followed.
As well as the darts circuit at home in the UK there were foreign tours, including a trip to the Falklands to entertain the troops.
He revelled in his cheeky man-of-the-people image. When he was appointed MBE in 1989 he accidentally broke protocol by turning his back on the Queen as he retreated. Remembering royal etiquette, he wheeled round and said, “Sorry, darling.” She burst out laughing, he reported.
He was born in Hackney, north London, in 1957, the only child of George Bristow, a plasterer, and Pamela, a telephonist, and had a happy childhood in Stoke Newington. George was a sports lover who exposed his son to golf, snooker and pool before buying a dartboard when Eric was 11.
Bristow passed his 11-plus and attended Hackney Downs grammar school. Though he was good at mathematics – handy for calculating check-outs – he was not a model pupil and left at 14, later admitting to criminal activity such as joy-riding and burglary.
Darts soon took over, and he was playing for a local team by the age of 14. Within a year he was making more in prize money than the £12 a week from his job as a proofreader in the City – “I was earning £120 a weekend,” he recalled – and he gave up work to concentrate on darts.
He threw for England just before his 18th birthday and won his first world title in 1980. But his career stalled towards the end of the decade when he began to suffer from dartitis, a condition similar to the yips in golf: at the critical moment, the player is unable to release the dart and follow through.
He was afflicted for eight years, and although he briefly regained his No 1 world ranking he had been replaced at the summit of the sport by Phil “the Power” Taylor, whose own rise owed much to Bristow. During his time out of the game, Bristow had mentored and coached Taylor, sponsoring him to the tune of £10,000. Taylor would go on to win 16 world titles, and Bristow later joked, “I ended up creating a monster.” In 1990 the monster beat his creator in the world championship final.
In 1993 Bristow was one of the leaders of a 16-man breakaway that saw the sport split in two, but his last big occasion on the oche was an epic world championship semi-final defeat to Taylor in 1997. He finally retired from competition in 2007, devoting himself to exhibition matches and roadshows, and in 2012 he finished fourth in the jungle on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.
In 2008 he published an autobiography, The Crafty Cockney, but his career as an acerbic and often controversial pundit was derailed in 2016 when he was sacked by Sky after tweeting insensitively about the sexual abuse scandal in football.
For several years from the late 70s Bristow was in a relationship with Maureen Flowers, at that time the UK’s top women’s darts player. Then in 1989 he married Jane, with whom he had two children, Louise and James. They divorced in 2005 and he was latterly in a relationship with Becky Gadd, whom he had met at a roadshow. She survives him along with his children.
• Eric Bristow, darts player, born 25 April 1957; died 5 April 20180 0 Comments 0 Shares
- #OBITUARY #obituaries #Keith #Murdoch
Keith Murdoch, the disgraced All Black who disappeared
The most significant moment of Keith Murdoch's international rugby career was the last.
It was 2 December 1972 in Cardiff, the day he made his 27th appearance for New Zealand's All Blacks against one of the all-time great Wales teams.
All Blacks half-back Sid Going chipped the ball forward close to the touchline.
Four, five, six All Blacks rushed forward, "like a great black blanket" said commentator Bill McLaren.
The ball fell to the 17st (110kg) Murdoch before he launched himself at the try line as three Wales players approached.
The try was awarded, even though the Wales players insisted the ball had not crossed the line. The score: Wales 0, New Zealand 10.
Murdoch emerged from a pile of red and black shirts, handlebar moustache unruffled, with the ball in his hand. There was no expression of joy on the face of the 29-year-old as he jogged away from his team-mates.
The match ended Wales 16, New Zealand 19; Murdoch's try - the only one he scored for his country - had made all the difference.
It would be the last time he'd appear on a rugby field.
It's not clear what exactly happened at the Angel Hotel in central Cardiff a few hours after the match finished but it ended up with a security guard at the hotel, Peter Grant, being punched in the face, and Murdoch being sent home by New Zealand rugby officials a day and a half later.
The players, reports would later say, were upset they had not done more to try and stop him being expelled.
He was the first All Black to be sent home for indiscipline and the move shocked players and fans. "Exit the wild man," the Daily Mail's headline said the day after his departure, "leaving one all-black eye behind."
Different versions of the story exist. Had Murdoch punched Grant after being refused entry to the bar? Had Grant been struck by accident as he tried to stop Murdoch hitting team officials?
It was not out of character for Murdoch, whose reputation as a hard drinker able to throw his weight around was already well established. Earlier in the All Blacks' tour, a journalist said Murdoch had assaulted him.
Murdoch's whole job was to stand firm and fight back. As a prop forward, he was the one who would take the full pressure of the scrum on his shoulders, and his size stood out at a time when bulky rugby players were few and far between.
There's also the (true) tale of how he once needed to move a broken-down car away from the road, so he tied a rope around its tow bar and pulled it himself.
But there were also tales of his shyness, his inability to fit in. Murdoch was also seen as "a big, jovial chap with a devilish sense of humour", Ron Palenski, a junior journalist on the 1972 tour, told the BBC.
Many more such stories emerged after his death, aged 74, was announced on 30 March.
The dust-up at the Angel Hotel made headline news in the UK and New Zealand, and the press pack in Auckland camped out at the airport to await Murdoch's return.
He never made it there. It's believed he swapped flights in Singapore, after shaving his moustache to avoid detection, and flew instead to Perth in Western Australia. From there, he retreated to the wilderness of the Outback and disappeared.
Murdoch never explained why he did it, nor why he chose to abandon his rugby career. The lack of satisfactory explanations, and Murdoch's own eagerness to avoid the press, means that many gaps remain in Murdoch's story, gaps that at times have been filled by half-truths and speculation.
There were only four recorded encounters with him in the almost 46 years after he boarded the flight from London.
In the years after Murdoch's disappearance, there had been rumours he had moved to the middle of nowhere in Australia. New Zealand rugby officials had tried to trace him, with no luck.
Then, in 1974, the New Zealand rugby journalist Terry McLean managed to trace him to an oil drilling site near Perth.
Their encounter did not go well.
The first words Murdoch said to him, according to the report McLean produced for The Herald, were: "Just keep moving." Murdoch then turned to McLean's driver and said: "Who brought this so and so up here?"
McLean took the advice and returned to New Zealand. Murdoch, too, kept moving, and he was next seen six years later.
While he was working on a farm owned by friends in Otago, on the southern tip of New Zealand's South Island in 1980, the friends' three-year-old son was found unconscious in their swimming pool.
The boy's mum dragged the boy out of the water and Murdoch immediately gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, saving his life.
Ron Palenski, in his book chronicling the history of New Zealand rugby, said a reporter from the local newspaper the Timaru Herald heard of the rescue and visited the farm to get the whole story.
Murdoch was nowhere to be seen, and shortly afterwards he left for Australia.
In 1990, Margot McRae, a producer for a current affairs programme, received a tip that Murdoch was working for a mining company.
She worked out he was staying at a hotel in Tully, a rainy outpost in far north-east Australia, and turned up unannounced to meet him.
When McRae found Murdoch at the hotel bar, he was shocked. "He was very gentlemanly in an old-fashioned way," she told the BBC. "I was very struck by his honesty - he knew who he was, and what he wanted.
"I was also struck by the fact that he wasn't a tragic figure but had somehow followed the course of what he had always wanted to do."
What he had always wanted, McRae said, was a life without ties - moving from one town to the next, following the work where it was, making friends wherever he landed.
- #OBITUARY #obituaries #Paul #Benjamin
Loved by so many for his humour, kindness and generosity.
Will be sincerely missed by Linda Tracey, family and friends for who he became such wonderful companionship and friendship.
A wonderful guy with a massive heart loved by everyone that had the privilege to have known him he truly was someone special and a person that touched a lot of people's hearts.
RIP our dear friend, Love you lots.
Lynda Tracey, Family and a whole lot of friends
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- #OBITUARY #obituaries #Sir #Charles #Wolseley
Sir Charles Wolseley, Bt, aristocrat and theme-park developer
Sir Charles Wolseley, the 11th baronet, who has died aged 73, was a chartered surveyor who made the headlines after the failure of a theme-park venture forced him to part company with lands that had been in his family for more than a thousand years; the “bankrupt baronet”, as the press called him, told of living on unemployment benefit of £140 a fortnight and accepting potatoes from a former tenant.
The 1,490-acre estate near Rugeley, Staffordshire, was said to have been given to the Wolseley family as a reward for clearing the area of wolves during the reign of King Edgar (959-975).
- #OBITUARY #obituaries #Harry #Goodman
Harry Goodman made the American dream a reality for thousands of British people by selling two-week holidays to Miami Beach for £199 when the air fare alone was usually much more than that. He also created a pan-European low-cost airline, Air Europe, before Ryanair and easyJet became household names.
I first met Harry, who has died aged 79, in the mid-1970s while a reporter for Travel Trade Gazette. His company, Intasun (later International Leisure Group), was starting its rapid rise to challenge Thomson Holidays, the UK’s biggest tour operator, and like many observers I thought he was brash, flashy and possibly heading for a fall.
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By the time ILG went bust in 1991 he was one of the most recognisable names in British business, but his raucous private life had made him a target for tabloid exposés. He embraced a playboy lifestyle to the full with a Rolls Royce convertible, private yacht and private jet, but along with that came drugs and wild parties where he surrounded himself with pretty girls.
The collapse of ILG was not the end of his career in travel, and when I contacted him again in 2015 as I researched my book Let’s Go: A History of Package Holidays and Escorted Tours, he was a very different man – humble, reflective and very appreciative of all the opportunities life had given him.
Harry’s rise to industry leader, tabloid character and donor to charity was all the more remarkable considering that he was born into poverty in the East End of London, orphaned at 13 and left school at 16 to work in a travel agency. He was the son of Rebecca Aaronovitch, from a Latvian Jewish immigrant family, but he did not know his father, who died before he was born.
His mother married Charles Goodman, with Harry taking that name when he was adopted. The couple had two more boys, but when Charles abandoned the family and Rebecca died, Harry went to live with uncles while the younger boys went to an orphanage. He never forgot his origins and charities in the East End were to benefit as he became wealthy.
When Harry set up his first tour company, Sunair, in the early 60s, package holidays were in their infancy. He described the business as “cowboy country, like the beginning of a gold rush”, with little regulation but plenty of customers keen to discover the newly developed beach resorts of Spain and Italy. He sold holidays door to door while the first of the big, cheap package holiday companies, Clarksons, grew rapidly.
The Thomson Organisation of Canada had set up Thomson Holidays in competition, but Sunair remained small and had been taken over and closed down by 1972. The following year Harry set up a lookalike company called Intasun, and when Clarksons went bust in 1974 he had a team of people ready to contract Clarksons hotel rooms for as little as £1 per person per day, including breakfast and dinner.
The battle for supremacy between Thomson and Intasun dominated the travel industry for 17 years – Thomson being corporate, well-managed but sometimes slow to act, with Intasun, in Harry’s own words, “like a Jack Russell snapping at a big dog’s heels”. In 1979, a milestone year, Intasun set up a charter airline, Air Europe, and announced bargain holidays to the US using planes chartered from Laker Airways.
Harry was flamboyant, extrovert and impulsive, but brought in expertise from other companies to help run Intasun. Not even his closest confidantes knew what he was planning in Florida, but the first season’s holidays to Miami Beach sold out so quickly that the volume of calls put the telephone exchange in Bromley, Kent, where Intasun was based, out of action.
That success made Intasun very profitable, and it was floated on the stock exchange in 1981. By 1985 it had acquired several other tour operators and was renamed International Leisure Group, but this rapid growth was taking its toll on Harry, who had become addicted to cocaine, receiving a conviction for possession in 1981. The following year, while in rehab, he bought the beach party tour operator Club 18-30.
The battle with Thomson raged on as both companies put millions more holidays on sale, with prices slashed. ILG was brought back into private hands and Harry became chief barker of the Variety Club of Great Britain, his charity work bringing him into contact with royalty and the then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.
But he was looking beyond package holidays, and Air Europe became a scheduled as well as a charter airline in 1988. It flew to destinations such as Paris, Rome – where VIPs on the first flight were greeted by Pope John Paul II – and Munich, in competition with British Airways before the deregulation of air travel in the EU in 1993 created a free for all. He also found partners to set up Air Europe in several other European countries.
Harry is survived by his third wife, Yvonne, whom he married in 1986; Debra and Jonathan, the children from his first marriage, to Helen Ross, which ended in divorce; and his daughter Naomi, from his second marriage, to Joy Rosendale, which also ended in divorce.
• Harry Goodman, tour and airline operator, born 12 November 1938; died 12 March 2018
- #OBITUARY #obituaries #Philip #Kerr
Berlin held a great fascination for the author Philip Kerr, who has died aged 62 of cancer: it was a place where the impact of evil upon essentially decent people was felt especially keenly. His morally ambiguous fictional private detective Bernie Gunther first appeared in March Violets (1989), set in the city in 1936, after the Nazis’ rise to power, and the first of his Berlin Noir trilogy. Each book, he later admitted, was aimed at painting Gunther into a corner “so that he can’t cross the floor without getting paint on his shoes”.
A German Requiem (1991) ended the trilogy by taking events to the end of the second world war and Vienna, but the lure of his protagonist and Berlin, which proves as much a character as its citizens, remained strong. The One from the Other (2006) was the first in a run of 10 more Berlin Noir novels. If the Dead Rise Not (2009) won the Ellis Peters Historic Crime award, and Greeks Bearing Gifts, set in 1957, is due to be published next month.
In the intervening years, Kerr produced standalone books, starting with the ambitious A Philosophical Investigation (1992), which married cyber-punk crime with the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein. A complex and demanding tale of a serial killer, it led to him being listed alongside Iain Banks and AL Kennedy as one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists under 40. But critical acclaim was not matched by sales. His commercial breakthrough arrived only in 1995 with Gridiron, a Towering Inferno-style action story.
Gunther was not Kerr’s only serial crime solver. In 2014 his love of football led him to embark on the first of three Scott Manson thrillers about a Premier League football coach and all-round fixer.
Born in Edinburgh, Philip was the son of William Kerr, a building planner, and his wife, Ann (nee Brodie). His parents had converted from the Free Church of Scotland to the evangelical Baptist church, deeming it more “family-friendly”.
It was not an easy fit for a boy with an aversion to water. “I could not swim or even bear to have my head under water and consequently the spectacle of full immersion baptism – and by extension, the very idea of washing away the sin that was required to make my peace with Jesus – was horrifying to me,” he later wrote.
As a result, from an early age he knew that “Jesus and I were not going to get along.” The final break came after his father’s death. When he saw a white horse galloping across a field six months later, Philip, by now a trainee tax lawyer aged 22, realised he needed to rebel against the path chosen for him.
He read widely, including “unsuitable” novels hidden by his parents. At the age of 12 he stole the key to a cupboard in which DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover was hidden. This resulted in his first paid work as a writer. Aware his father would miss his copy of the book and that his friends wanted to read it, Kerr wrote his own version, The Duchess of the Daisies, which he rented out for “the edification of his schoolmates”.
Resentment of the church became entwined with an uncomfortable relationship with his birthplace, of which he said: “If you want to scar a child for life then bring it up in the city of John Knox.” At the upmarket Melville school his dark complexion led to racist bullying by his sandy-haired contemporaries and masters. The experience reinforced his sense of exclusion and in later years he described himself as a “deracinated Scot”. When he was 15 the family moved to the Midlands. His time at Northamptonshire grammar proved happier, and he returned to it for speech days.
Though he had wanted to study English at Birmingham University, Kerr bowed to paternal pressure and took up law. After a year in a kibbutz, Kerr returned to Birmingham for a postgraduate degree in jurisprudence.
After he left law, work as an advertising copywriter included a spell at Saatchi and Saatchi – though he had a tendency to get fired. While colleagues enjoyed boozy lunches, he preferred to be in the London Library, where he worked on five unpublished “sub-Martin Amis” novels until turning to crime in March Violets.
By the time Gridiron was published he was married to the journalist and author Jane Thynne, whom he had met while he was working as a gossip columnist on the London Evening Standard, and with whom he had three children, William, Charlie and Naomi.
Though the film rights to Gridiron and other novels were sold, none made it further than development. Steven Spielberg optioned the fantasy series The Children of the Lamp (2004-11), written under the name PB Kerr. The author regarded his relationship with Hollywood with wry amusement and enjoyed recounting anecdotes about La La Land. While waiting for Tom Cruise in the actor’s trailer, he found himself fretting about being late for a further meeting that day, with Robert De Niro.
His commitment to research led him into dangerous situations, sometimes in the seamier areas of Berlin, or as when travelling with the St Petersburg police for Dead Meat (1993), his thriller set among the Russian mafia. One particularly frightening day ended with the discovery of holes in the flak jacket he had been wearing. They marked where the previous wearer had been shot.
Kerr’s non-fiction works ranged from a research guide to anthologies of feuds and lies. He continued working until recently, copyediting his last novel, due for publication next year.
He is survived by Jane and his children.
- #OBITUARY #obituaries #Elizabeth #Handy
It might seem surprising to say that my long-time friend Elizabeth Handy, who has died in a road accident in Norfolk, was cut down in her prime at 77. But then in professional terms, she was a late developer. Although she was born with the eye of a photographer, it was only in her mid-40s that she was able to take up the practice seriously. She was less well known than her husband Charles, the business and social philosopher, but her life was just as remarkable.
As a photographer her main concern was people and she quickly developed a reputation for acute and warm psychological observation as well as a willingness to experiment. These qualities shone out of her work, nowhere more than in her most recent project, which explored the relationship of identical twins in mid-life, a typically fresh and engaging concept.
Latterly she worked with Charles on books that combined his words and her portraits, including Behind the View, a portrait of her village, a sequence of photographic studies including The New Alchemists and Reinvented Lives: Women at Sixty, and, later, a number of photo documentaries, with images by Elizabeth and commentary by Charles, for voluntary organisations.
She met Charles in 1960 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he was working; she had a job with the high commission in Singapore and had gone to KL for a party. They married in 1962, dividing their time between their homes in Norfolk and Putney, south-west London, and having two children, Kate and Scott.
Liz had early turned entrepreneur, running her interior design business, before training as a counsellor with Relate, a skill that served her well as a photographer. Later she combined photography with taking over as her husband’s agent and business manager.
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She was born Elizabeth Ann Hill in Farnham, Surrey, in 1940, the daughter of an army colonel, Rowland, and his wife, Olivette (nee Bailey). She attended a dozen different schools but, she said, luckily learned nothing to stop her restless curiosity. Finally, aged 50, she got an honours degree in photography from the University of Westminster.
She and Charles made a formidable partnership. They travelled the world together, always taking time to meet people and understand their interests, which in turn became the source of some of their projects. In 2016 she was briskly telling a business audience how to be old: be useful, be curious, mentor and take energy from the young, do not wait for others to make things happen. “We’re having the time of our lives,” she concluded.
Conscious of what he owed her, Charles would sometimes say he was lucky to be on his third marriage – but each time to the same woman, adjusting their relationship through the different stages of life.
He survives her, along with Kate, Scott and four grandchildren.
- #OBITUARY #obituaries #Carl #Brecker
Carl Brecker, who has died aged 81, was a lifelong revolutionary socialist, born and brought up in South Africa, who opposed apartheid and spent over a quarter of a century in exile in Lesotho, the UK and Zimbabwe.
Having become active in the fight against apartheid as a member of the Non-European Unity Movement and organising secretary of the Cape Peninsula Students Movement, he was served with banning orders and in 1964 went into exile in what was then Basutoland (now Lesotho). Five years later he moved to Britain, where he was politically active, and later, having returned to South Africa, he was a campaigner and activist.
Carl was born in Cape Town, the only son of Norman, a mechanic, and Edith Brecker (nee Milton), who worked in a clothing factory. He attended Trafalgar high school. After studying accountancy at evening classes, he worked as a book-keeper in an ice-cream factory.
In Basutoland (which gained independence in 1966), Carl worked for the department of agriculture while his first wife, Sybil Vinden, whom he had married in 1960, practised medicine. They left Lesotho for the UK in 1969 with their two daughters.
Carl spent most of the 1970s in west London, working in finance at the West Middlesex hospital. He was active in local leftwing politics and the trade union movement: when the closure of Hounslow hospital was announced in 1977, he became one of the leaders of an occupation that lasted into the following year.
In 1980, he was refused naturalisation for reasons the then home secretary, William Whitelaw, refused to disclose. He and Sybil divorced and in 1981 he married Kate Truscott, a British citizen, before leaving for Zimbabwe with her.
In Harare, he gained a BSc and MSc in economics from the University of Zimbabwe. He did some teaching there and acted as an adviser to the co-operative movement. Kate worked for the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.
Returning to South Africa in 1990, he became a trenchant critic of the African National Congress and its allies, including the South African Communist party. His published work included a short book, The Transition in South Africa (1996), which took issue with the ANC/SAPC’s commitment to the “national democratic revolution” as the first of two stages in the transformation of post-apartheid South Africa.
In Cape Town, he established the Alternative Information and Development Centre with a small legacy from Kate, who died in 1993. AIDC was at the forefront of campaigns on the foreign debt left over from the apartheid era and the right to work. It also provided research and information for activists. He was devastated when political differences with some of his colleagues became irreconcilable and he left.
Carl is survived by Tania and Dee, the daughters from his first marriage, two grandchildren, Alex and Jashana, and a sister, Valerie.
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- #OBITUARY #obituaries #Professor #Stephen #Hawking
'Mind over matter': Stephen Hawking – obituary by Roger Penrose
The image of Stephen Hawking – who has died aged 76 – in his motorised wheelchair, with head contorted slightly to one side and hands crossed over to work the controls, caught the public imagination, as a true symbol of the triumph of mind over matter. As with the Delphic oracle of ancient Greece, physical impairment seemed compensated by almost supernatural gifts, which allowed his mind to roam the universe freely, upon occasion enigmatically revealing some of its secrets hidden from ordinary mortal view.
Of course, such a romanticised image can represent but a partial truth. Those who knew Hawking would clearly appreciate the dominating presence of a real human being, with an enormous zest for life, great humour, and tremendous determination, yet with normal human weaknesses, as well as his more obvious strengths. It seems clear that he took great delight in his commonly perceived role as “the No 1 celebrity scientist”; huge audiences would attend his public lectures, perhaps not always just for scientific edification.
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The scientific community might well form a more sober assessment. He was extremely highly regarded, in view of his many greatly impressive, sometimes revolutionary, contributions to the understanding of the physics and the geometry of the universe.
Hawking had been diagnosed shortly after his 21st birthday as suffering from an unspecified incurable disease, which was then identified as the fatal degenerative motor neurone disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. Soon afterwards, rather than succumbing to depression, as others might have done, he began to set his sights on some of the most fundamental questions concerning the physical nature of the universe. In due course, he would achieve extraordinary successes against the severest physical disabilities. Defying established medical opinion, he managed to live another 55 years.
His background was academic, though not directly in mathematics or physics. His father, Frank, was an expert in tropical diseases and his mother, Isobel (nee Walker), was a free-thinking radical who had a great influence on him. He was born in Oxford and moved to St Albans, Hertfordshire, at eight. Educated at St Albans school, he won a scholarship to study physics at University College, Oxford. He was recognised as unusually capable by his tutors, but did not take his work altogether seriously. Although he obtained a first-class degree in 1962, it was not a particularly outstanding one.
He decided to continue his career in physics at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, proposing to study under the distinguished cosmologist Fred Hoyle. He was disappointed to find that Hoyle was unable to take him, the person available in that area being Dennis Sciama, unknown to Hawking at the time. In fact, this proved fortuitous, for Sciama was becoming an outstandingly stimulating figure in British cosmology, and would supervise several students who were to make impressive names for themselves in later years (including the future astronomer royal Lord Rees of Ludlow).
Sciama seemed to know everything that was going on in physics at the time, especially in cosmology, and he conveyed an infectious excitement to all who encountered him. He was also very effective in bringing together people who might have things of significance to communicate with one another.
When Hawking was in his second year of research at Cambridge, I (at Birkbeck College in London) had established a certain mathematical theorem of relevance. This showed, on the basis of a few plausible assumptions (by the use of global/topological techniques largely unfamiliar to physicists at the time) that a collapsing over-massive star would result in a singularity in space-time – a place where it would be expected that densities and space-time curvatures would become infinite – giving us the picture of what we now refer to as a “black hole”. Such a space-time singularity would lie deep within a “horizon”, through which no signal or material body can escape. (This picture had been put forward by J Robert Oppenheimer and Hartland Snyder in 1939, but only in the special circumstance where exact spherical symmetry was assumed. The purpose of this new theorem was to obviate such unrealistic symmetry assumptions.) At this central singularity, Einstein’s classical theory of general relativity would have reached its limits.
Meanwhile, Hawking had also been thinking about this kind of problem with George Ellis, who was working on a PhD at St John’s College, Cambridge. The two men had been working on a more limited type of “singularity theorem” that required an unreasonably restrictive assumption. Sciama made a point of bringing Hawking and me together, and it did not take Hawking long to find a way to use my theorem in an unexpected way, so that it could be applied (in a time-reversed form) in a cosmological setting, to show that the space-time singularity referred to as the “big bang” was also a feature not just of the standard highly symmetrical cosmological models, but also of any qualitatively similar but asymmetrical model.
Some of the assumptions in my original theorem seem less natural in the cosmological setting than they do for collapse to a black hole. In order to generalise the mathematical result so as to remove such assumptions, Hawking embarked on a study of new mathematical techniques that appeared relevant to the problem.
A powerful body of mathematical work known as Morse theory had been part of the machinery of mathematicians active in the global (topological) study of Riemannian spaces. However, the spaces that are used in Einstein’s theory are really pseudo-Riemannian and the relevant Morse theory differs in subtle but important ways. Hawking developed the necessary theory for himself (aided, in certain respects, by Charles Misner, Robert Geroch and Brandon Carter) and was able to use it to produce new theorems of a more powerful nature, in which the assumptions of my theorem could be considerably weakened, showing that a big-bang-type singularity was a necessary implication of Einstein’s general relativity in broad circumstances.
A few years later (in a paper published by the Royal Society in 1970, by which time Hawking had become a fellow “for distinction in science” of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge), he and I joined forces to publish an even more powerful theorem which subsumed almost all the work in this area that had gone before.
In 1967, Werner Israel published a remarkable paper that had the implication that non-rotating black holes, when they had finally settled down to become stationary, would necessarily become completely spherically symmetrical. Subsequent results by Carter, David Robinson and others generalised this to include rotating black holes, the implication being that the final space-time geometry must necessarily accord with an explicit family of solutions of Einstein’s equations found by Roy Kerr in 1963. A key ingredient to the full argument was that if there is any rotation present, then there must be complete axial symmetry. This ingredient was basically supplied by Hawking in 1972.
The very remarkable conclusion of all this is that the black holes that we expect to find in nature have to conform to this Kerr geometry. As the great theoretical astrophysicist Subramanyan Chandrasekhar subsequently commented, black holes are the most perfect macroscopic objects in the universe, being constructed just out of space and time; moreover, they are the simplest as well, since they can be exactly described by an explicitly known geometry (that of Kerr).
The life of Stephen Hawking – in pictures
Following his work in this area, Hawking established a number of important results about black holes, such as an argument for its event horizon (its bounding surface) having to have the topology of a sphere. In collaboration with Carter and James Bardeen, in work published in 1973, he established some remarkable analogies between the behaviour of black holes and the basic laws of thermodynamics, where the horizon’s surface area and its surface gravity were shown to be analogous, respectively, to the thermodynamic quantities of entropy and temperature. It would be fair to say that in his highly active period leading up to this work, Hawking’s research in classical general relativity was the best anywhere in the world at that time.
Hawking, Bardeen and Carter took their “thermodynamic” behaviour of black holes to be little more than just an analogy, with no literal physical content. A year or so earlier, Jacob Bekenstein had shown that the demands of physical consistency imply – in the context of quantum mechanics – that a black hole must indeed have an actual physical entropy (“entropy” being a physicist’s measure of “disorder”) that is proportional to its horizon’s surface area, but he was unable to establish the proportionality factor precisely. Yet it had seemed, on the other hand, that the physical temperature of a black hole must be exactly zero, inconsistently with this analogy, since no form of energy could escape from it, which is why Hawking and his colleagues were not prepared to take their analogy completely seriously.
Hawking had then turned his attention to quantum effects in relation to black holes, and he embarked on a calculation to determine whether tiny rotating black holes that might perhaps be created in the big bang would radiate away their rotational energy. He was startled to find that irrespective of any rotation they would radiate away their energy – which, by Einstein’s E=mc2, means their mass. Accordingly, any black hole actually has a non-zero temperature, agreeing precisely with the Bardeen-Carter-Hawking analogy. Moreover, Hawking was able to supply the precise value “one quarter” for the entropy proportionality constant that Bekenstein had been unable to determine.
This radiation coming from black holes that Hawking predicted is now, very appropriately, referred to as Hawking radiation. For any black hole that is expected to arise in normal astrophysical processes, however, the Hawking radiation would be exceedingly tiny, and certainly unobservable directly by any techniques are known today. But he argued that very tiny black holes could have been produced in the big bang itself, and the Hawking radiation from such holes would build up into a final explosion that might be observed. There appears to be no evidence for such explosions, showing that the big bang was not so accommodating as Hawking wished, and this was a great disappointment to him.
These achievements were certainly important on the theoretical side. They established the theory of black-hole thermodynamics: by combining the procedures of quantum (field) theory with those of general relativity, Hawking established that it is necessary also to bring in a third subject, thermodynamics. They are generally regarded as Hawking’s greatest contributions. That they have deep implications for future theories of fundamental physics is undeniable, but the detailed nature of these implications is still a matter of much heated debate.
Hawking himself was able to conclude from all this (though not with universal acceptance by particle physicists) that those fundamental constituents of ordinary matter – the protons – must ultimately disintegrate, although with a decay rate that is beyond present-day techniques for observing it. He also provided reasons for suspecting that the very rules of quantum mechanics might need modification, a viewpoint that he seemed originally to favour. But later (unfortunately, in my own opinion) he came to a different view, and at the Dublin international conference on gravity in July 2004, he publicly announced a change of mind (thereby conceding a bet with the Caltech physicist John Preskill) concerning his originally predicted “information loss” inside black holes.
Following his black-hole work, Hawking turned his attentions to the problem of quantum gravity, developing ingenious ideas for resolving some of the basic issues. Quantum gravity, which involves correctly imposing the quantum procedures of particle physics on to the very structure of space-time, is generally regarded as the most fundamental unsolved foundational issue in physics. One of its stated aims is to find a physical theory that is powerful enough to deal with the space-time singularities of classical general relativity in black holes and the big bang.
Hawking’s work, up to this point, although it had involved the procedures of quantum mechanics in the curved space-time setting of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, did not provide a quantum gravity theory. That would require the “quantisation” procedures to be applied to Einstein’s curved space-time itself, not just to physical fields within curved space-time.
With James Hartle, Hawking developed a quantum procedure for handling the big-bang singularity. This is referred to as the “no-boundary” idea, whereby the singularity is replaced by a smooth “cap”, this being likened to what happens at the north pole of the Earth, where the concept of longitude loses meaning (becomes singular) while the north pole itself has a perfectly good geometry.
To make sense of this idea, Hawking needed to invoke his notion of “imaginary time” (or “Euclideanisation”), which has the effect of converting the “pseudo-Riemannian” geometry of Einstein’s space-time into a more standard Riemannian one. Despite the ingenuity of many of these ideas, grave difficulties remain (one of these being how similar procedures could be applied to the singularities inside black holes, which is fundamentally problematic).
There are many other approaches to quantum gravity being pursued worldwide, and Hawking’s procedures, though greatly respected and still investigated, are not the most popularly followed, although all others have their share of fundamental difficulties also.
To the end of his life, Hawking continued with his research into the quantum-gravity problem, and the related issues of cosmology. But concurrently with his strictly research interests, he became increasingly involved with the popularisation of science, and of his own ideas in particular. This began with the writing of his astoundingly successful book A Brief History of Time (1988), which was translated into some 40 languages and sold over 25m copies worldwide.
Undoubtedly, the brilliant title was a contributing factor to the book’s phenomenal success. Also, the subject matter is something that grips the public imagination. And there is a directness and clarity of style, which Hawking must have developed as a matter of necessity when trying to cope with the limitations imposed by his physical disabilities. Before needing to rely on his computerised speech, he could talk only with great difficulty and expenditure of effort, so he had to do what he could with short sentences that were directly to the point. In addition, it is hard to deny that his physical condition must itself have caught the public’s imagination.
Although the dissemination of science among a broader public was certainly one of Hawking’s aims in writing his book, he also had the serious purpose of making money. His financial needs were considerable, as his entourage of family, nurses, healthcare helpers and increasingly expensive equipment demanded. Some, but not all, of this was covered by grants.
To invite Hawking to a conference always involved the organisers in serious calculations. The travel and accommodation expenses would be enormous, not least because of the sheer number of people who would need to accompany him. But a popular lecture by him would always be a sell-out, and special arrangements would be needed to find a lecture hall that was big enough. An additional factor would be the ensuring that all entrances, stairways, lifts, and so on would be adequate for disabled people in general, and for his wheelchair in particular.
He clearly enjoyed his fame, taking many opportunities to travel and to have unusual experiences (such as going down a mine shaft, visiting the south pole and undergoing the zero-gravity of free fall), and to meet other distinguished people.
The presentational polish of his public lectures increased with the years. Originally, the visual material would be line drawings on transparencies, presented by a student. But in later years impressive computer-generated visuals were used. He controlled the verbal material, sentence by sentence, as it would be delivered by his computer-generated American-accented voice. High-quality pictures and computer-generated graphics also featured in his later popular books The Illustrated Brief History of Time (1996) and The Universe in a Nutshell (2001). With his daughter Lucy he wrote the expository children’s science book George’s Secret Key to the Universe (2007), and he served as an editor, co-author and commentator for many other works of popular science.
He received many high accolades and honours. In particular, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society at the remarkably early age of 32 and received its highest honour, the Copley medal, in 2006. In 1979, he became the 17th holder of the Lucasian chair of natural philosophy in Cambridge, some 310 years after Sir Isaac Newton became its second holder. He became a Companion of Honour in 1989. He made a guest appearance on the television programme Star Trek: The Next Generation, appeared in cartoon form on The Simpsons and was portrayed in the movie The Theory of Everything (2014).
It is clear that he owed a great deal to his first wife, Jane Wilde, whom he married in 1965, and with whom he had three children, Robert, Lucy and Timothy. Jane was exceptionally supportive of him in many ways. One of the most important of these may well have been in allowing him to do things for himself to an unusual extent.
He was an extraordinarily determined person. He would insist that he should do things for himself. This, in turn, perhaps kept his muscles active in a way that delayed their atrophy, thereby slowing the progress of the disease. Nevertheless, his condition continued to deteriorate, until he had almost no movement left, and his speech could barely be made out at all except by a very few who knew him well.
He contracted pneumonia while in Switzerland in 1985, and a tracheotomy was necessary to save his life. Strangely, after this brush with death, the progress of his degenerative disease seemed to slow to a virtual halt. His tracheotomy prevented any form of speech, however, so that acquiring a computerised speech synthesiser came as a necessity at that time.
In the aftermath of his encounter with pneumonia, the Hawkings’ home was almost taken over by nurses and medical attendants, and he and Jane drifted apart. They were divorced in 1995. In the same year, Hawking married Elaine Mason, who had been one of his nurses. Her support took a different form from Jane’s. In his far weaker physical state, the love, care and attention that she provided sustained him in all his activities. Yet this relationship also came to an end, and he and Elaine were divorced in 2007.
A brief history of A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
Despite his terrible physical circumstance, he almost always remained positive about life. He enjoyed his work, the company of other scientists, the arts, the fruits of his fame, his travels. He took great pleasure in children, sometimes entertaining them by swivelling around in his motorised wheelchair. Social issues concerned him. He promoted scientific understanding. He could be generous and was very often witty. On occasion he could display something of the arrogance that is not uncommon among physicists working at the cutting edge, and he had an autocratic streak. Yet he could also show a true humility that is the mark of greatness.
Hawking had many students, some of whom later made significant names for themselves. Yet being a student of his was not easy. He had been known to run his wheelchair over the foot of a student who caused him irritation. His pronouncements carried great authority, but his physical difficulties often caused them to be enigmatic in their brevity. An able colleague might be able to disentangle the intent behind them, but it would be a different matter for an inexperienced student.
To such a student, a meeting with Hawking could be a daunting experience. Hawking might ask the student to pursue some obscure route, the reason for which could seem deeply mysterious. Clarification was not available, and the student would be presented with what seemed indeed to be like the revelation of an oracle – something whose truth was not to be questioned, but which if correctly interpreted and developed would surely lead onwards to a profound truth. Perhaps we are all left with this impression now.
Hawking is survived by his children.
• Stephen William Hawking, physicist, born 8 January 1942; died 14 March 2018, aged 76.
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- Jim Bowen Dead: ‘Bullseye’ Presenter And Comedian Dies, Aged 80
Jim Bowen, best known for presenting the cult darts-based game show ‘Bullseye’ has died, aged 80.
News of his death was confirmed by his wife to BBC Radio Lancashire.
The former deputy headmaster, who was born in Lancashire, began his career as a stand-up comedian on the club circuit in the 1960s.
He became a household name when he began presenting ‘Bullseye’ in 1981, which ran for 14 years until it was axed in 1995.
His catchphrase ‘look what you could have won’ - was uttered to unlucky contestants who missed out on the show’s star prize.4 peoples like this. 0 Comments 0 Shares
- #OBITUARY #obituaries #Professor #Stephen #Hawking
‘An inspiration to all of us’: Professor Stephen Hawking dies aged 76
Tributes have poured in for renowned British physicist Professor Stephen Hawking, who has died at the age of 76.
Prof Hawking died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday morning, a family spokesman said.
In a statement, his children Lucy, Robert and Tim said: ‘We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today.
‘He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.4 peoples like this. 0 Comments 0 Shares
- #OBITUARY #obituaries #Major #Richard #Gimson
Major Richard Gimson, who has died aged 95, won an MC in 1943 in the Italian campaign.
On September 11 1943, Gimson landed at Salerno, with the first batch of sappers. His tank landing craft had been strafed by German fighters and it took three attempts to get ashore.
He was a platoon commander serving with 571 Army Field Company RE and, as the senior Royal Engineer officer, it was his job to make sure that mines were cleared and the port was made available for shipping.
Despite coming under constant shelling, mortar fire, sniping, and taking heavy casualties, within two weeks the port had been made5 peoples like this. 0 Comments 0 Shares
- Sir Ken Dodd dies aged 90 after suffering a chest infection
Sir Ken Dodd has died at the age of 90, his publicist has confirmed
His publicist Robert Holmes confirmed the news, saying: ‘To my mind, he was one of the last music hall greats.
‘He passed away in the home that he was born in over 90 years ago. He’s never lived anywhere else. It’s absolutely amazing.’
The comedian had recently been cared for by medical professionals after suffering a chest infection.
On Friday he married his partner of 40 years, Anne Jones.
Last year he was knighted, 25 years after he was first awarded an OBE, for his charity work and his outstanding career in entertainment which has lasted for six decades.
He told press before he entered Buckingham Palace that he felt like ‘a racehorse in the stalls, just sweating a little – apprehensive but highly tickled’.
He was knighted, and made a Sir, by, Prince William, second-in-line to the throne.
Born in Knotty Ash, Liverpool, Lancashire, on November 8 1927, it was around the age of 14 he began to discover a love of entertaining after seeing an advertisement in a comic book which read: ‘Fool your teachers, amaze your friends—send 6d in stamps and become a ventriloquist!’.
His father then bought him a ventriloquist’s dummy and Ken called it Charlie Brown, entertaining children at the local orphanage and by the age of 26 he had broken out into the business after years of doing stand up around Nottingham.
His comedy style was fast and relied on the quick delivery of one-liners and the occasional song and dance; he was known for the ‘tickling stick’ and the greeting of ‘how tickled I am!’.
Renowned for the length of his performances, he once earned himself a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the world’s longest ever joke-telling session: 1,500 jokes in three and a half hours.
He is survived by his partner Anne Jones.
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Sir Roger Bannister dies aged 88
Sir Roger Bannister, the first man in history to run a mile in under four minutes, has died at the age of 88.
A statement released on behalf of his family said: ‘Sir Roger Bannister, died peacefully in Oxford on 3rd March 2018, aged 88, surrounded by his family who were as loved by him, as he was loved by them.
‘He banked his treasure in the hearts of his friends.’
Bannister’s record of three minutes 59.4 seconds in May 1954 stood for only 46 days as it was broken by John Landy, who ran a mile in 3:57.4 in Finland.
Bannister then faced Landy in a race billed as ‘The Miracle Mile’ at the Commonwealth Games later that year, and won a gold medal with a time of 3:58.8.
Bannister, who took up athletics whilst studying medicine, went on to become a neurologist.
He was knighted in 1975 and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011.kane like this. 0 Comments 0 Shares
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Group Captain John Digman, who has died aged 94, flew 36 operations in Lancaster bombers and later became a specialist navigator.
His first mission was on October 6 1944 when he attacked Bremen. He then attacked the U-boat shelters at Bergen in Norway, the Polish port of Gdynia and the German gun positions on Walcheren Island, which were protecting the crucial port of Antwerp.
By November, much of the bomber offensive was directed against the German oil industries and the canal system, which carried industrial products including synthetic oil.3 peoples like this. 0 Comments 0 Shares