Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to its Prince of Linguists, Adam Kilgarriff


Adam, who built an increasingly distinguished career from the age of 27, with recognition at home and abroad based on his understanding of corpus and computational linguistics and lexicography and said with perfect self-effacement that he'd spent all of it "really thinking about the relationship between corpus and dictionary. So this puzzling out how they relate to each other is always near the middle of what I'm doing" http://ow.ly/NsfUX , has died at the age of 55.

What you possibly didn't know about Adam, that he :

* was born in Brighton, Sussex in 1960 and brought up along the coast in Hastings, the son of his German mother, Renate who had met his father, Raymond, when they both worked at London's 'Bernard Quaritch' Bookshop and in Hastings worked as a bookseller in 'Howes Bookshop' in a Victorian Gothic building in the back streets with its enormous stock arranged on one mile of shelving with an atmosphere compared to a college library and once said : "I am an unrepentant generalist. I like being confronted with miscellaneous collections and getting to grips with it all. Specialists tell me there is an awful lot of new material to be discovered even after a lifetime in one subject, but I just cannot be convinced about that. I enjoy the discoveries I make day by day as a generalist."
 
* having passed the 11+ exam, attended the traditional Hastings Grammar School for Boys in 1971, where he remembered 'all those gruesome assemblies where we stood up while masters came in, sat down, stood up, prayed, sat down, were talked at, stood up, sang, (or muttered, in my case), sat down, were lectured at, stood up, prayed, sat down, stood up, masters went out. Fifteen minutes a day, every school day for five years.'

* in the 1970s, was already showing an interest in the power of words and recalled : 'When I was thirteen, I went to a chess championship in Southend-on-Sea. It was grey and windswept and I was a little lonely and homesick and as far as I can remember I lost all my games. I remember just one spark of colour in this otherwise cheerless scene : my partner in one game, delighted with his ingenuity at a particular move, declared it 'subtle' with a capital B. Subtle has a subtle spelling : the b is silent, so it's all the more subtle if the b is a capital.'

* left school after his 'O' Levels at the age of 16 to study his 'A' Levels elsewhere and quickly matured as an adolescent, having been 'introduced to feminism early, by an older lover, in my late teens in the 1970s' which 'opened up a fascinating world of questions: how different would the world have looked had I been a woman?'

* signed up for a year's 'Voluntary Service Overseas' at the age of 18 in 1978 and spent it in Kenya, working for the 'Project Trust' teaching at a ‘Harambee’, in a self-help school on an island in Lake Victoria where, in 'a remote part of a third world country. It was a formative experience. I learnt some essential truths, like that we Brits are all pretty rich and lucky, and also that wealth is not much related to happiness.'

* returned to Britain and started his undergraduate studies at Cambridge University, in 1979, the second year of his father's Presidency of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association and graduated three years later with a 'first class' BA degree in 'Philosophy and Engineering' and in 1983 got his first job working as a 'Housing Officer' for the 'London and Quadrant Housing Trust' and resumed his education the following year and enrolled at South West London College for a 'Diploma in Counselling Skills.'

* remembered 'a scarring weekend' with other students at the beginning of his counselling course where, 'after a few drinks we had had a rollocking argument about Jewishness with a strident Zionist, feminist woman. I went to bed feeling it had been a jolly good argument. But over the remainder of the weekend, and then the following term of the course, I had felt increasingly defensive, like everything I say might be taken against me, excluded. At the end of the year, the strident woman left the course and I was so relieved.  A year or two later some gossip got back to me.  The strident woman had said after that first evening “he represents patriarchy, we’ll get him”. I took away two lessons : be wary of putting your head above the parapet and maybe I’m not such a feminist in my style of argument after all.'

* in 1987, gave up his job with the housing association, switched direction and started his MSC in 'Intelligent Knowledge-Based Systems' at the University of Sussex, graduated the following year and picked up his Counselling Diploma before embarking on four years research at the University of Sussex for his DPhil in 'Computational Linguistics' entitled : 'Polysemy' which began by asking : 'What does it mean to say a word has several meanings ? On what grounds do lexicographers make their judgment about the number of meanings a word has ? How do the senses a dictionary lists relate to the full range of ways a word might get used ? How might Natural Language Processing Systems deal with multiple meanings ?'

* concluded his 1992 thesis with a quote from Lewis Carroll's 'Through the Looking Glass' and asked : 'Was Humpty Dumpty right ? Can a word mean whatever we choose it to mean ? ...possibly, in sufficient extra circumstances, almost any word can be used to mean almost anything', but 'while Humpty Dumpty may be right, this does not invalidate to lexicographer's attempt to specify the meaning of a word.'

* in 1992 at the age of 32, started work as a 'Computational Linguist' at Longman Dictionaries where he developed lexical databases and in 1995 worked on the 'Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English' where he was proud to have pointed out an omission https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2APIUxE_i6M&t=1h16m23s and advised on 'language engineering' and after three years moved to the 'Information Technology Research Institute', University of Brighton and over the next nine years, progressed from Research Fellow to Senior Research Fellow and finally Senior Lecturer.


* continued his work in the publishing world, working for Oxford University Press in 1998 as an advisor on 'language technology' and for Macmillan on 'corpus use in dictionary production' for the 'Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners' and in addition, gave advice on 'computational linguistics' and 'corpus processing' at Kings College London, the National Endowment for Science and the charity, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts.

* in 1997 published his influential "I don't believe in word senses", in which he began with : 'Within the lexicography and linguistics literature, they are known to be very slippery entities. The paper looks at problems with existing accounts of 'word sense' and describes the various kinds of way in which a word's sense can deviate from its core meaning' and proceeded to argue against discrete classification of 'word senses' and saw them rather as a continuous space of meanings largely defined by the 'contexts' in which a word appears : 'I examined the concept, 'word sense'. It was not found to be sufficiently well-defined to be a workable basic unit of meaning' and witnessed his paper rapidly become a 'state-of-the-art' argumentation on the topic.


* in 2002, in partnership with Sue Atkins and Michael Rundell, set up his first company, 'Lexicography MasterClass Ltd' to provide consultancy and training in lexicography and dictionary production and later said : 'If you have a lexical computing problem, call me in! I’ve always found, to my surprise and delight, the more interesting the work, the more people pay me for it. Such are the delights of being very specialised' and in 2003, attended workshops and delivered keynote speeches and lectures at Tilburg University, The Netherlands and in Mexico City, Tokyo and Beijing and in the same year set up 'Lexical Computing Ltd' to provide corpus software and services and consultancy.


* made his greatest contribution to lexicography with the creation of 'Sketch Engine', which took its name from word sketches, one-page summaries of a word's grammatical and collocational behaviour and provided an immediate response tool for most queries for billion word corpora and subsequently saw it used for 'dictionary-making' at Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, HarperCollins and Le Robert and at the National Language Institutes of eight countries and for teaching and research in many universities.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3KyhPBeoLU&t=18m50s

* in 2006 added another string to his bow working as an 'Expert witness' in intellectual property cases relating to product names and trademarks and in the years up to 2013 travelled to and delivered his expertise to audiences in Bologna University, Athens, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Regensburg in Germany, Szeged in Hungary, Taipei in Taiwan, Malta, Ljubljana in Slovenia, Murcia in Spain, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Pavia and Bolzano in Italy, China, Brno in the Czech Republic and Bali.
 
* at the age of 48 in 2008, with his 11 year old daughter, made a return trip to Kenya for a 'moving reunion' with his old friend, Raphael, who he had not seen for 30 years, found that lack of rain had led to crop failure and threat of starvation and followed Raphael's suggestion and provided £2,400 in funding so that he 'could hire a truck, drive to the Tanzanian border, not so far away and basic foods were available at a more manageable price in Tanzania, fill up the truck and drive back to Kenya to distribute the food to needy families' and in addition, continued to support 'schooling for HIV orphans, organised by Raphael via a local NGO that he set up'.
 
* in 2009 asked the question : 'Are you a digital native?  I suspect most readers of this piece, like me, are digital immigrants. The terms were coined by Marc Prensky, whom I had the good fortune to hear at the English Language Teaching conference, in April. Most people closer to my children’s ages than mine are digital natives – in rich countries and poor. They have grown up playing with computers, Xboxes, Nintendo DS’s and cellphones...Already over half the world’s population are digital natives, and us digital immigrants (assuming you, dear reader, are closer to my age than my children’s) are doomed.  In twenty or thirty years, people who remember typewriters will only be found in old people’s homes' along with flip chart users : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3KyhPBeoLU&t=1m34s
 
* in 2010 posted 'Three English Singletons' with  'There are three words of English that are particularly vexing ..The first is co-operative. No other word in English has a hyphen that resolutely refuses to go away... Next is café. English doesn't do accents. It just doesn't...The third and least forgiveable is cannot. We don't stick words together..Were I a language evangelist, I would not object to "would of" or the greengrocers "carrot's", or even to the displacement of our delicate and beautiful system of tag questions by the universal innit. These words are but the variations on the theme of the melody of English. But when one, lone, single obstreperous word defies an otherwise universal rule, then out ! Out, co-operative ! Out, café ! And out, out, out cannot !'

* in 2012 greeted the announcement that 'Macmillan Education' would cease publishing print dictionaries and that Macmillan Dictionaries would henceforth live only online as a “a day of liberation from the straitjacket of print” and was pioneering in the use of the web for linguistic research and set up 'The Web as Corpus' as a Special Interest Group of the Association for Computational Linguistics.

* as his reputation spread, addressed research seminars at Google, Microsoft and FrameNet in Berkeley, USA and at the Universities of Stockholm, Düsseldorf, Munich, Geneva, Gothenburg, Uppsala, Saarbrücken, Stuttgart, Dublin, Columbia, Tampere in Finland, Helsinki, Complutense in Madrid and on the home front : the Universities of Essex, Edinburgh, Oxford, Cambridge, Birmingham, Sheffield, Lancaster, Leeds, Surrey, Kings College London, Goldsmith, Cardiff, Wolverhampton, Aston, Brighton and Sussex and the British Library.
.
* in November 2014, was diagnosed with cancer and started a blog in January 2015 and planned to use it : 'to keep anyone who is interested up-to-date on my health (I have stage 4 bowel cancer) but also for thoughts on language, corpus linguistics and life and the world in general. The plan is to use these four categories' and went on to declare :  'Despite the cancer, I most certainly am enjoying life; I’m not used to life being slow and gentle, and having ample time to enjoy the view out of the window, the pictures round the house, BBC Radio 3 playing gems from the classical repertoire, for writing this blog. It’s all very nice!' and in March was humorous with 'The Grammar of Farting' https://blog.kilgarriff.co.uk/?p=73#more-73 and in May, honest with 'Cancer and depression' https://blog.kilgarriff.co.uk/?p=101

* in February considered the words of the nineteenth century hymn :
'We blossom and flourish
As leaves on a tree
And wither and perish
But naught changeth Thee.'
and asked 'What is it about this (half-)verse that so resonates? It won’t be the religion, I don’t do religion and it only comes in at the end. No, it must be the language. The words are all basic, old words of English. No prefixes, suffixes, long words, imports. The four verbs: blossom, flourish, wither, perish: four ancient words of English for four fundamental processes of life. The sentence structure: subject and intransitive verb, four times over: as basic as it gets, connected by and, the simplest conjunction. One simile, again, of unanswerable directness. The plain, pure rhythm; the plain, pure rhyme. Thank you, Walter Smith. For when I use language, this is a model for how I want to use it.'
 
* on his passing, was paid tribute by the American lexicographer, Orin Hargraves who said : "his contributions to lexicography, mainly in the form of Sketch Engine and its associated corpora, are immeasurable. Dictionaries now and far into the future are better for the work he has done."

* in January had written 'came across the whiteboard before Christmas at the hospital where they were taking a blood test to check I was OK for the next round of chemotherapy. Apart from the season’s greeting, all the messages are reminders to nurses taking blood tests of some of the less obvious procedures to be followed when doing some of the rarer tests. It caught my eye because of the sheer strangeness of finding the two radically different uses of languages next to each other, as if they had something to do with each other. Wittgenstein said language was a toolbox with lots of different kinds of tools for different purposes: the whiteboard is then like finding the Space Shuttle launcher next to a teabag squeezer: both tools, but they have little else in common.
It leaves me wanting to rejoice – isn’t language wonderful, that we can do all these different things with it !' .

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Britain is no country for old villains who rob a few diamond bankers, but is one for young banker-villains who rob everyone

Today it was announced that five of the world's largest banks are to pay fines totalling £3.6bn for charges including manipulating the foreign exchange market.
 
The British bank, Barclays, was fined the most, $2.4bn. It is sacking eight employees involved in the scheme.
 
Regulators said that between 2008 and 2012, villain-traders formed a cartel and used chat rooms to manipulate prices in their favour. One Barclays trader who was invited to join the cartel was told : "Mess up and sleep with one eye open at night" and another said : "if you ain't cheating, you aint't trying".
  
One method they used was to influence prices around the daily fixing of currency levels : A daily exchange rate fix is held to help businesses and investors value their multi-currency assets and liabilities. Until February, this happened every day in the 30 seconds before and after 16:00 in London and the result is known as the 4pm fix, or just 'The Fix'. In a scheme known as 'Building Ammo', a single villain trader would amass a large position in a currency and, just before or during the fix, would exit that position. Other members of the cartel would be aware of the plan and would be able to profit. 
 
New York State 'Superintendent of Financial Services', Benjamin Lawsky said : "They engaged in a brazen 'heads I win, tails you lose' scheme to rip off their clients."
 
All these young villain bankers made an enormous amount of money for themselves and their banker friends. They all enjoy their freedom with no fear of arrest by the police, a trial and time inside prison, at Her Majesty's Pleasure.
 
                                                              **********

Yesterday, Scotland Yard police arrested nine men in a dramatic operation which came after six weeks ago, a gang staged the audacious robbery at the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company and escaped with around £60 million in diamonds, cash and valuables.

In a series of raids, 200 Flying Squad officers burst into addresses in North London and Kent and arrested  five middle aged men of 43, 48, 50, 59 and two at 58 and three old men of 67, 74 and 76.

The method they used in the robbery, if they are the villains, was to use heavy duty cutting gear and a diamond tipped drill to cut their way through a 20 inch thick concrete wall to get into the vault holding the safety deposit boxes they plundered.

Today, Commander Peter Spindler, 'Head of Serious and Organised Crime' said : “There has been much public speculation over recent weeks and I am sorry that we have appeared tight lipped, but this has been a very complex case with many lines of inquiry. I want to publicly thank the many officers from the Flying Squad who have put their lives on hold to ensure that the victims of this callous crime get the justice they deserve.”

If these men go to trial and are found guilty, they will serve a lengthy spell at Her Majesty's Pleasure in prison.

.P.S.
Barclays Bank shares shot up after the news. Investors thought they got off lightly.

P.P.S
A letter in the Guardian has asked :

The increasingly implausible revelations concerning the Hatton Garden heist have me wondering if it was masterminded by a movie producer needing a new script. It has all the elements of an old school British crime caper and I can’t help casting the lead roles: Ray Winstone, Michael Caine, Brian Cox, Martin and Gary Kemp, Vinnie Jones and Shane Richie are my frontrunners. Any better ideas?

Friday, 15 May 2015

Britain is no country for an old Prince called Charles and his black spider memos


Britain is a country where Her Majesties Government Ministers are constantly lobbied by construction and property interests, doctors and big pharma, beef and barley barons, defence suppliers the bankers and all of this, unseen, uncharted and undisclosed.

Unlike them, Charles, 66 years old Prince and heir to the throne of Great Britain, has had his confidential lobbying to  Government Ministers 10 years ago, made public and disclosed. For six months, when he was 56, his letters, known in his 'black spider' memos, after his black-inked, spindly handwriting, covered a disparate range of topics revealing his personal interest in :

* Beef farming
* The power of supermarkets
* Lynx helicopters
* Badger culling
* Irish jails
* The fate of sea birds
* Derelict hospitals
* Listed buildings
* Scott and Shackleton’s Antarctic huts
* Summer schools
* Old-fashioned teaching methods
* Herbal medicines
* Albatrosses and the Patagonian toothfish
* Dairy quotas
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhI0IrB1Fn4

Release of the letters has brought to an end a decade-long battle that started with a 'Freedom of Information' request in April 2005, by Guardian journalist Rob Evans. A total of 27 letters written between 2004 and 2005 to seven Whitehall Departments have been uncovered after a protracted legal tussle that passed before 16 judges, sitting in a range of courts, from an obscure tribunal to the Supreme Court, at the cost of £400,000 to the taxpayer.

Through all of this, the growing-old, Prince of Wales, stuck to his guns, as did successive Governments, believing that he, by virtue of the position he held, should have a right to communicate privately and the publication of his letters could only inhibit his ability to express the concerns and suggestions which have been put to him in the course of his travels and meetings. Parliament, agreed with the Prince and passed legislation in 2010 to ensure that the communications of the Prince of Wales and that of the Queen, should be exempt from publication under the Freedom of Information Act. So the old Prince can now rest easy. It’s unlikely letters like these will be seen again.


Revealed, at last, for example, is the Prince's concern for a species of cod icefish found in the Southern Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans when he wrote to Elliot Morley, then 'Minister of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' : 'I particularly hope that the illegal fishing of the Patagonian toothfish will be high on your list of priorities because until that trade is stopped, there is little hope for the poor old albatross, for which I will continue to campaign. Let us hope that between all of us who mind about sustainable fishing, we can make a difference before it is all too late.'

We might be forced to conclude that the Prince's black spiders are harmless little creatures in comparison with the multimillion-pound tarantulas of big-time business, darkly going about their lobbying, without fear of the exposure to the daylight reserved for Britain's old Prince.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Britain is no longer a country, nor Leicester a city for an old, indefatigable, topographical artist called Rigby Graham

Rigby, a mural artist and illustrator of 370 books and writer of 20, out and about in Scotland, Ireland, Mediterranean Islands and in and around his beloved Leicester with sketch pad, watercolours and oils for over seventy years, has died at the age of 84. Apart from half a dozen tweets and a mention in the 'Leicester Mercury', his passing has been marked by neither private recognition nor public fanfare.

What you possibly didn't know about Rigby, that he :

* was born in Stretford, Manchester, in 1931 and into a turbulent childhood where there were always plenty of books and bottles around, if not much food and one dominated by his strict, alcoholic father, Richard, a customs and excise officer and once former professional clarinetist, who had met his mother, Ellen, born on the Isle of Mull, when he stayed at a guest house she ran with her mother at Mallaig, Inverness, while inspecting local whisky distilleries.

* was named after 'Justice Rigby Smith', who was admired by his father and sent to sunday school and a junior school on religious lines by his devout, Scots Presbyterian ''Wee Free' and piano and violin-playing mother, Ellen, and when his father was transferred to Barkingside, Essex, recalled :  'My earliest memories are being pedalled in a carrier on the crossbar of his push bike along the roads of London's East End and out to Chigwell, Epping and Buckhurst Hill'.

* as a boy, was heavily influenced by his Father, who rarely used names, but had a whistle code to summon each of his three children and when in a good mood might call him either 'Mr Pecksniff', 'Horatio' or 'Dick Sniveller' and was well read in politics, economics, Fabianism, Russian novels, Greek legends, major English poets and whose stories of his postings in Ireland during 'The Troubles' aroused Rigby's interest in Irish literature and music.

* was evacuated to Ipswich at the age of seven on the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 and after several miserable billets and different schools, eventually rejoined the family, now moved to Leicester and recalled : 'I was sent up to Leicester like a parcel on the railway in 1942 and went to school here intending to return to London when the War finished'.

* having passed the the 11+ exam, joined Wyggeston Grammar School, where David Attenborough was in the sixth form, having entered school with sinking heart because of the '"sit up ! speak up ! shut up !"ethos' where he found that art was not regarded as a serious subject but an activity for the non-academic on a par with 'woodwork.'


* in his adolescence, developed his spirit of independence and learned, in geometry, for example, 'to hate straight lines and angles and the measurement of things by degrees and the sentences which began 'give', 'to prove' 'if' and 'let' and I hated the reasoning which was neatly tied up with the nasty little knot - 'quod erat demonstrandum'. I loved the loose ends and intersections which could not be measured' and liked 'the geometry of the branches of the trees, for they were living lines and real dimensions, they moved in  the wind and dripped in  the rain.'

* recalled that he had 'always been interested in the Sublime' and since becoming 'aware of it at school and being introduced to Wordworth's 'Prelude', by which I was much stimulated. Like a sponge, I read whatever I could, for I felt I wanted to do this rather than play rugger and cricket' , but, a talented swimmer, during summer holidays would hitch hike, separately, with his brother, to the Isle of Mull and would take part in Hebridean Regattas, where they cleaned up swimming and diving prizes and he became 'Western Isles Long Distance Champion' and also took the opportunity to explore Mull and take a boat to Iona.

* also hitched to Dorset and thought nothing of cycling the one hundred miles to Seven Kings, London to stay with his maternal Grandmother and got himself out and about in and around Leicester and later recalled : 'I traipsed about canals, deserted railways. I walked every canal, towpath that’s in the county. I went down mines, got into factories I climbed into military aircraft dumps during the War and I noticed how the landscape was changing, how the horse in farms was giving way and horse-driven machinery were given away, steam ploughs and ploughing engines'.

*  became aware of the nascent artist within him : 'I lurched about from one crisis to another I felt a sense of what Wordsworth must have felt when he described something similar in his poem ‘The Prelude’' and was self consciously observant of the world around him and the smells of hay, sillage, slaughterhouses, slurry, the coke in railway sidings and iron and dust from foundry furnaces and on cycling to a canal, learned 'sight, sound and smell are inseparable' and, at the same time, like any boy, was also attracted to machines in town and country : 'any crane, or earth mover or chrusher or plant of any kind, I was up, in or over.'

* before entering the sixth form, knew that he wanted to paint full time after a degree course in Art History at King's College Newcastle, but with few academic qualifications, was persuaded instead, by teacher Roy Porter, who 'said "why not go to local art college to learn how to draw ?" and at 16 in 1947, enrolled at the Leicester College of Art and that summer undertook the first of a series of artistic journeys on a hitch hiking holiday to draw in France, Switzerland and Germany, contracting amoebic dysentery in the process from drinking bad water, the effects of which took some years to shake off.

* found that he had served an unconscious apprenticeship as an artist by training himself to see and feel so that 'when I became an art student, my attention was focussed on particular things, lamp posts, chimney stacks, doorways and windows, brickwork and bonding, the colours of things, the effect of light and the perspective of cast shadows and I found that in learning of these things, I was rediscovering all these elements in Leicester, which I had already known and experienced.'

* in the winter of 1948, travelled to and had his first experience of sleeping rough in snow and the following year, at the age of 18, on turning up for his medical for his two years National Service found a 'queue' and as a child, having been forbidden by his father to wait in a queue, went away and when summoned to return, took exception to being shouted at, turned and walked away again and subsequently heard nothing more from the authorities and fell through the net.

* recalled that, at the College : 'I met skilful, interesting, fascinating craftsmen, artists, painters, calligraphers, potters, all sorts of people whose work I admired and I found it a pleasure to be part of that system' and "when I was a student, the people who were known for English book illustration at that time, they all had an influence on me to a greater or lesser extent. "

* also came under the influence of the German expressionists, "Kirchner and all his pals" (right) and later recalled : "I was interested in them and got no encouragement at all - they were beyond the pale, their work looked rough, and splintery and unfinished. It had the very quality that I liked, and admired."

* completed his studies at College at the age of 23 in 1954, having specialised in 'mural painting' and chose teaching as a means to provide a livelihood for his ambition and in the mid-1950s taught at Ellis Boys’ School, Lansdowne Boys’ School and the Gateway School and on the artistic front, visited Brittany and the Channel Islands to paint and in the late 1950s, in his late twenties, shifted the emphasis of his art shifted to printing and graphic design.


* in 1958 at the age of 27, spent time on Herm in the Channel Islands, making pencil, indian ink and ballpoint sketches and watercolours and on one occasion made sketches of the island mailboat 'MV Arrowhead', whilst  travelling on another small boat in very heavy seas and subsequently saw them used for the new 1959, 6d stamp and his sketch of the 'Arrowhead' entering St. Peter Port Harbour on the 1s 6d stamp.  
  
* by the late 1950s, was teaching in the Printing School of Leicester College of Art and subsequently graphic design and in parallel, started work as an illustrator creating the lithographic illustrations of an edition of Rilke’s 'Sonnets to Orpheus' working primarily for private presses : the 'Brewhouse Cog', 'New Broom', 'Pandora' and 'St Bernard Press'.

* found that a painting visit to Sicily had an unexpected consequence, in that it launched him into his work as a muralist, starting with 'Sicily' for Woodstock Junior School in Leicester and then a collaborative series at New Parks House Junior School which in turn, stimulated his interest in education and led to his move to the School of 'Teacher Training' at Leicester College of Art in 1961.

* at the age of 30, provided the illustrations in two or more colours for Thea Scott's 'Fingal's Cave', in what was meant to be an edition of 250 copies, but on the 67th printing, with sheets laid out to dry on the floor of the attic, the sun shone enough to hatch woodworm in the floor and overnight more than a hundred sheets were peppered with holes and because reprinting was impossible the edition was halved and four years later published his own 'Romantic Book Illustration in England 1943- 1945'.

* having risen to the position of Pincipal Lecturer in Teacher Training at the College of Art, which had become a Polytechnic, became disillusioned when he found that the creative excitement of art was being overtaken by the dead hand of administrative organisation and staff who 'did' things were being replaced by analysts, users of jargon and goobledegook and was, by now, successful enough in as an artist, to be able to retire from teaching at the age of 52 in 1983 and increase the frequency of his one-man exhibitions with the continued support of Mike Goldmark, whose gallery in Uppingham made his work available to the public.

* in 1986 described the ease of lithography, working on either paper, zinc or aluminium plates "because there was no resistance, with your crayon or your brush, it flowed quite easily. Whereas, when you’re struggling with a woodcut, every bit you cut is hard going. You finish up with blisters on your fingers" with, for example, the large, 'Santa Maria Della Salute' which "was carved on oak and that was a nightmare to cut. Some wood is fairly soft to the touch, but oak is notoriously difficult to cut a straight line Against the grain, it’s very, very difficult. The smaller the tool you’ve got, the easier it is, but of course it takes time. The black block for that, I remember took about 3 ½ weeks of solid cutting, morning, noon and night."

* in 1989, at the age of 58, painted a mural for the 'Linear Accelerator Suite' at the Leicester Royal Infirmary and then in a cruel sequel, became a cancer patient in the same hospital, keeping his spirits up by drawing other patients and recalled the experience in his 1992 woodcut-illustrated book, 'Kippers and Sawdust', in which he recalled lying in the hospital bed after an operation, in the hours before daybreak 'tethered and triangulated by drip, drain and catheter', in his mind he had turned the pages of his sketchbooks and 'lay on headlands looking out to sea; or, lingering by bastion and rampart, drew once again vistas and images which had moved me, at earlier times, almost to tears.'

* in 2001, at the age of 70 made the film, 'Rigby Graham’s Irish Journey', with Charles Mapleston who described it as "a kind of 'retrospective road movie visiting many of the artist's old haunts and creating dynamic new work along the way", spiced with his cryptic commentaries, written daily on postcards home to his Irish wolfhound ,'Murphy',
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIMvgdmOoc0&t=0m17s and culminated in an arduous climb up Skellig Michael to an ancient monastery perched on a rocky island sanctuary set deep in the Atlantic.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIMvgdmOoc0&t=1m53s 

attended the premier of his film in the University of Leicester Film Theatre in 2003, at which Mike Goldmark, said : "The journey with its hardships and laughter stands as a metaphor for the artist’s life” and at the reception paused with Charles, the Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Burgess and Mike to view his work on display. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIMvgdmOoc0&t=38s

* in 2008 at the age of 77, had his 'Watercolours of Malta' , with a narrative and poetry by his friend Victor Fenech, with biographical detail of his life and work and a combination of scenes : coast, sea, village and industry, having spent five weeks in inclement weather in Gozo because he 'wanted to give it the importance he felt it deserved' and typically shunned the oft-painted and photographed touristic sites and focussed on the flora of a fast disappearing countryside as a protest against encroaching development, a trait  noted by one art critic, who  likened him to ‘a war artist recording how we’re blitzkrieging our own environment’.

* on receiving an Honorary Degree at Leicester University at the age of 77 in 2008, said that he was pleased because : 'I have often felt my work has been against the grain or out of kilter. I find myself delighted still to be around, to relish the irony of it.'

* used the ceremony as an opportunity to describe his love of the city he had explored as a boy : "I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed travelling about by foot, by bicycle, eventually a clapped-out motorbike and what I saw, and drew and painted and engraved and turned into lithographs and woodcuts, stained glass and heaven knows what else; I found the life here in Leicester and Leicestershire, the building, the demolition, the terrible mess made of certain things; I found the whole lot absolutely exhilarating and still do. If you people, all and every one of you, get one tenth of the pleasure and satisfaction that I have had from the life that I found around me here then you will have a very good life indeed."

* in his oration at the ceremony, Professor Gordon R Campbell said : "How might one characterise Rigby Graham’s art? He is certainly one of the most important landscape painters of the late twentieth century. The archive of his work, now lodged at Manchester Metropolitan University, is a central resource for the study of landscape and topographic painting, the Neo-Romantic movement, lithographic and wood-cut printing, book illustration and production, and private presses. He is a figure to be reckoned with in all of these fields."


* in 2010 on being awarded an MBE for his achievement in the community 'which is outstanding in its field and had delivered a sustained and real impact which stands out as an example to others' and said, with perfect self-effacement : "It was a complete surprise and I have no idea which part of my work it is for. I am honoured" and had his work celebrated in Malcolm Yorke's biography, 'Against the Grain', published by Goldmark Gallery this year : http://ow.ly/MRw2Z

* said : "When I'm on my own and quiet, the landscape tells you a good deal and Turner and Cotman talk to me from the clouds."

and, in what might serve as his epitaph :

 "I came to find in ordinariness,  extraordinary qualities"