Friday, 2 February 2007

A blacker list

I suppose it's inevitable that, as you get older, the people you most admire should begin to die at an alarming rate. I've just been looking through some English newspapers I bought over Christmas and found The Independent's Year in Review obituary spread.

The big league names - Muriel Spark, Freddie Trueman, Robert Altman - I knew about. But it's the second division that twitches the heart. Ivor Cutler, the thinking man's Spike Milligan. Jackie Pallo, memories of Saturday afternoons spent watching my father watching wrestling, his legs dancing up and down, his hands clenched into fists, head weaving, working far harder and with more authenticity than anyone on the screen. Lynne Perrie, her gin-soaked Christian fundamentalist in Coronation Street so harrowingly awful the soap antes were definitively upped and, I suspect, her career ruined. Raymond Baxter, Tomorrow's Mr Know-all. Ian Hamilton Finlay, whose garden of words I've never seen.

And down there with the rest, in the catch-all list at the bottom of page 46, acknowledged as ever but denied the attention she deserves, as ever, there's Sybille Bedford. I wonder what she'd have done with the trial of Milosevic. Who, needless to say, like Pinochet, warrants a paragraph to himself.

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