Thursday 26 February 2015

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old Pembrokeshire coastal artist called John Knapp-Fisher

John, acknowledged as one of Wales' most influential landscape artists with a  worldwide following, has died at the age of 83.

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

* was born in Kensington, London in 1931, son of Heather and Arthur, a then 43 year old architect, who had set himself up in partnership in 1919, became Professor of Architecture at the Royal College of Art when John was two years old, designed a number of schools and hospitals in the 1930s and St. John the Baptist Church, Stoneleigh in Surrey when John was seven and who he acknowledged when he was eighty as "a brilliant draughtsman, much better than me."

* was packed off as a boarder at St. Andrew's School Pangbourne, Berkshire, set up in 1934 as an independent preparatory school for boys bound for Eton, Harrow and Winchester and later reflected that : "I think my parents were despairing of my lack of ability. I was quite good at English and I suppose the only two things that I've pursued all my life are writing and painting. In childhood I wasn't particularly aware of art or painting or drawing, I don't think I was better at it when I went to school."

* made acquaintance of the sea at the age of 13 in 1944, during the Second World War, as a boarder at independent  Eastbourne College on the Sussex coast then moved inland to Kent in 1949 to study of 'Graphic Design and Typography' at Maidstone College of Art and after graduation in the early 1950s, served his two years National Service in the Army then worked in London as an exhibition designer and typographer.

* in 1958, at the age of twenty-seven made a reacquaintance of the sea as set designer at the Theatre Royal Margate in Kent and began painting, then worked at the Castle Theatre Farnham, married Sheila Bassett in 1960 and took the decision to become a full time working artist on his 'boat gallery' and sailed the rivers and harbours of Suffolk, including Pin Mill (left) with a land address in Hadleigh and a son and daughter born in Ipswich in 1962 and '64.

* later recalled that : "I resolved to make a living at my art. I work, in the initial stages at least, direct from my subject – direct from nature... I observe, feel and interpret. I do not copy. Nor do I invent, which is why I am not an abstract painter in the accepted definition of the term.”

* exhibited his paintings regularly from his boat around East Anglia where they were advertised locally and held a major exhibition in Suffolk in 1966 at the Festival Gallery, Aldeburgh, having already moved to Pembrokeshire, South West Wales in 1965, where he opened a studio gallery in Croesgoch, with its view of the sea, in 1967.

* began a career which would see him work in water colour, ink and oil to capture cottage, farm or church against the majestic, rugged landscape of the Pembrokeshire coastal area with his long, thin 'letter box' paintings in near monochrome becoming his signature style, never painted from photographs, always ventured out on foot or by boat, with sketchbook in hand at St.Davids, the harbour at Porthgain as he described to BBC Wales on the occasion of his 80th birthday :

* received accolades in the shape of : in 1992, at the age of sixty-one, election to membership of the Royal Cambrian Academy; exhibition of his work in the  National Museum Wales, the National Library of Wales and The Contemporary Art Society for Wales and in addition, in Britain, Europe, Africa and North America and the development of a large and loyal following with his biggest show in Johannesburg and a display of 65 paintings.

* in 2003 became a supporter of the 'National Literacy Trust', set up to motivate and inspire reluctant readers and fund a book-gifting programme targeting children, young people and their families in disadvantaged areas, by taking part annually in the 'Pushing the Envelope Auction', with celebrities putting their efforts to put pen to paper sold in an ebay auction and in 2008 was top seller with his mountainside cottage raising £3,000, in front of Turner Prize Winner, Grayson Perry's colourful motorbike and in 2012 raised £1,366 in front of Academy Award Winner actress, Dame Helen Mirren’s design.

* contemplated slowing down a little, at the age of seventy-seven in 2008, on the occasion of his exhibition 50 paintings, at Martin Tinney Gallery, Cardiff  when he said : “It’s a bigger show than I’ve had before and probably a bigger show than I will have again. It takes two years to get the work together so I don’t really want another large show for some time.”

* continued to paint and said : “I tell students to do something every day – even if it’s a quick thumbnail sketch. Rather like a dancer has to practise every day, a painter has to oil the hinges by doing little drawings”, but admitted : “It’s a lonely life really. One spends hours in the studio working on one’s own or walking around the countryside making notes. But I like it.

* said, on the occasion of his 2011 Exhibition at the Martin Tinney Gallery, with his scenes of striking white-washed cottages, Pembrokeshire alongside images of London and the Suffolk coastal town of Aldeburgh : “I’m well known for my dark, dramatic paintings but there are also some slightly more sensitive watercolours too. I think this collection is one of my best as I’ve been working towards it for two or three years. I shall not be going on to have too many more big shows – I’m more interested in retrospective shows now.”

* speaking on the BBC Radio Wales Arts Show to mark his 80th birthday, when questioned on his atypical studio in an old converted cowshed said : "People always say that you've got to have a good north light... I've never had a good north light in my life. You've got to be practical as an artist. There's no point in being airy fairy and artistic, putting a beret on and standing at a rickety easel; you've got to be very hands on."

* said : "I do like the older ways of life which are gone now. I mean to me life is not about sitting in front of a computer pressing buttons."

* in his passing, was paid tribute by the BBC : and Huw Davies, of Harbour Lights Gallery in Porthgain, who recognised :

"He was dedicated to his work and had an incredible influence on Pembrokeshire and Welsh art. He was a great influence and friend to many artists and a mentor to many young artists. He was a very tender, gentle person and he would always donate pictures to different local causes. He was a beautiful man, a very special man and everybody loved him."

                        What better epitaph might an old artist have ?

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Britain is no country for an old N.H.S. 'whistle-blowing' Professor of Surgery called Harold Ellis

Retired surgeon, Harold, who is 89 years old and has had a long and distinguished career in medicine is not a happy man and is almost tongue-tied with distress as he reflects on last week’s 'Freedom to Speak Up' Report on whistleblowing in the National Health Service by Sir Robert Francis QC, which revealed shocking accounts of bullying of staff who raise concerns about either sub-standard care or dangerous practice. Qualified as a doctor in 1948, he still teaches anatomy at King’s College, London, has been a whistleblower himself and is proud of it.

“I am just horrified. I just cannot comprehend how a situation could possibly happen where a person would have to fear suspension or bullying for raising proper concerns about the way that people were being looked after. It distresses me beyond measure. This would never have happened in the earlier days of the National Health Service."

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

* was born in the East End of London in 1926, to parents who were Polish Jews, his mother a dressmaker and father a barber, was educated at  St Olave’s Grammar School and at the age of 16 during the Second World War in 1942, gained a Government scholarship and place to read medicine at Queen’s College, Oxford and recalled that : “I didn’t know any doctors but I thought I wanted to be one.”

* found himself slightly fazed to be resident among the 'dreaming spires' while the War raged over London and his parents spent nights in a bomb shelter, then found that life really began for him when he went to the Radcliffe Infirmary as a clinical student.

Oxford 1948* qualified as a doctor in July 1948, in the same month as the National Health Service was created by the post-Second World War Labour Government and became a 'house surgeon' at Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, at the age of 22 and recalled that since hospitals were all nationalised during the War, there was no dramatic change : "it did not mean anything to us at all, we were just delighted to be doctors" and "it did not alter the way we did our jobs. All it meant was that our pay did increase from £50 to £100 a year, but then we lived in hospital and everything, including our laundry and our food was paid for, so our pay was just pocket money.”

* recalled that : "Each year we used to expect one or two of our medical students to be admitted to the sanatorium after contracting pulmonary TB. Being a Cockney from the East End of London I used to say, "I bet I am so immune I won't get it."  But getting poliomyelitis (polio) used to scare me as a medical student. There were a couple of epidemics and one of my chums died in an iron lung in the Radcliffe so I knew I did not fancy that at all."

* was assigned to a ward in 'Hut C', where the sister in charge was 'Sister Hut C. Ellis' who, with him, took joint and equal responsibility for every aspect of the ward and its patients and when, on one occasion when infection broke out, took it as a slur on their personal reputations and later said : “I saw it as my fault”, set to work to trace its source, which, when finally identified as being a “gooey tap”, he took immediate steps to clear and reflected that a few months later after cleaning was outsourced, getting overflowing lavatories fixed became much more difficult because it was no longer deemed the ward’s responsibility.

* in 1950, was called up to serve two years National Service as a captain and 'surgical specialist' in the Royal Army Medical Corps and after being demobbed, worked in turn at St James Hospital, Balham, then as 'Senior House Surgeon' St James Hospital, Balham (left), until 1953, followed by a year as 'Resident Surgical Officer' at Sheffield Royal Infirmary, another as 'Senior Registrar' at the age of 29 at Westminster Hospital, where he blew a whistle and reported hygiene problems in outpatients, which were sorted within days, before becoming 'Senior Registrar' at Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford.

* in 1960 at the age of 34, was appointed 'Senior Lecturer in Surgery' at Westminster Medical School, then 'Professor of Surgery' at the age of 36 at the newly opened surgical unit and remembers that these were the days when consultants were in charge of their own ward, with a sister and junior staff all reporting to them with any clinical question dealt with immediately by the consultant as "a matter of pride".

* remained at Westminster until 1989 when he 'retired as a practising surgeon at the age of 63 and moved to Cambridge University to serve as a 'Clinical Anatomist' four years, passing on his enthusiasm, expertise and care for the patient to youngsters entering a medical world very different from the one he had entered forty years before.

* is renowned among medics for his textbook : 'Clinical Anatomy : Applied Anatomy for Students and Junior Doctors' which went into its 13th edition in 2013 and his prodigious output of  hundreds of papers and dozens of books which in production were supported by the myth that he used to dictate papers while sitting in his bath and his own admission that he did not need much sleep.

* recalled when he was 82, that, as a young medic, worked for a terrible surgeon who, when something went wrong would say to the patient : "I don't want you to blame yourself" and they would say "sorry my wound has gone septic" but felt that things had now gone too far the other way, with doctors too worried about litigation to do their job properly and "I remember putting a woman on the operating table with no pulse and no blood pressure and opening her up with no anaesthetic and saving her life, but if that was to happen today the surgeon might say: 'What about the lawyer?'."

* said, on the publication of the 'Freedom to Speak Up' Report : "How could such a thing happen?” “I did not read the Report because it makes me too upset, but I believe that lines of command in the NHS are no longer clearly established. There is no longer that personal feeling of responsibility for the patient that we all had throughout my career” and blamed a collapse of clear lines of responsibility among medical and nursing staff for such an erosion of sense of community that aberrations like the Mid Staffordshire Hospitals Scandal occurred – and may do again.

* thought that the “slavish adoption” of the European Working Time directive also dealt a deadly blow to essential NHS systems because, as doctors and nurses work shorter hours, their cases are taken over by new shifts of clinicians, leading to a dilution of responsibility for a patient’s care and said : “I’m an old man now, but I am certainly not unique. If the phone went at 2am at night, you just got dressed and went off to the hospital. The wellbeing of the patient was all that mattered, and it was so obvious that we didn’t even talk about it.”

* also regrets, with the drive for and increase in specialisation, the end of the 'surgical team' where he and his theatre sister operated together for decades, so she knew what he needed before he asked for it, while now teams are often thrown together on the day, having never met before which : "leads to a lack of continuity, in which a patient’s needs can fail to be noticed.”

* is horrified that problems in the NHS have turned into a 'political punchbag' by the political parties in the run up to the General Election in May and thinks the crux of the problem was too much change and too fast : “Things are moving at a remarkable speed and the NHS has not been able to change fast enough to adapt."

* has an additional fear about the NHS in that it faces "an insatiable and increasing demand” with an urgent need to focus on increasing GP numbers to ensure that they are not on call every night and weekend, leading to burn-out and is appalled at the groaning Accident & Emergency departments and suggests that serious investment in them will also go some way to counteracting the GP problem, while more are being recruited.

Is this is the same old and reflective who, as a very young and idealistic medical student at the Radcliffe Infrirmary seventy years ago, had said  ? :

“It was like the gates of heaven opening – white coats, stethoscopes and calls of ‘Oh Doctor’ – I really loved it.”

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old historical ecologist called Oliver Rackham

Oliver, who began his academic career studying botany at Cambridge University, moved to geography, found his forte in 'historical ecology', opened our eyes to what we took for granted, transformed our understanding of the development of our forests and gave us the scholarly and dramatic concept of the 'Wildwood', has died at the age of seventy-five.  

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

* was born in 1939, the only child to Norah, who died when he was a teenager, and Geoffrey, a bank clerk, just after the outbreak of the Second World War in the market town of Bungay, Suffolk before moving to Harleston, where he first became absorbed by landscape of the surrounding countryside.

* received his secondary education in Norfolk, until the age if 16 at the fee-paying, Edward VI Grammar School, a boys' public school of ancient foundation in the close of Norwich Cathedral with the motto 'Praemia Vitrutis Honores', 'Honours are the Rewards of Virtue' and then the state-run Norwich City College, where he studied for his 'A' level exams, before gaining an entrance scholarship as a Parker Exhibitioner attending Corpus Christi College, Cambridge as an undergraduate in 1958, where he specialised in Botany and had his talents recognised as a 'Foundation Scholar'.

* graduated in 1961 with a first-class degree in the 'Natural Sciences Tripos', continued his studies at Corpus Christi, based his 1964 doctoral dissertation on the 'physiology of plant growth and transpiration', became a demonstrator in physiology and ecology in the Department of Botany and in the same year, at the age of twenty-five, was approached and lent his support to the campaign to make the £5,000 purchase of  'Hayley Wood' in Cambridgeshire, in recognition of its importance as a 'Site of Special Scientific Interest as Ancient Woodland' and important habitat for many species.

* researched the history of Hayley Wood, put his Latin to good use, drawing on the 1251 manor book for the Bishopric of Ely and found that the Wood dated back at least seven-hundred years, evidence of management : a hay field, a ridge and furrow system and farm buildings and began to develop his thesis that, contrary to public perception, England had not lost substantial areas of ancient woodland in recent centuries through the building of towns and roads, but rather, the earlier expansion of farmland and forestry.

*  in 1968, transferred to the 'Plant Breeding Institute' in Trumpington, Cambridge as a researcher, where he worked until the age of thirty-three in 1972, then rejoined the Department of Botany as an independent grant-funded researcher and while there in 1975, published 'Hayley Wood : its history and ecology'  followed by 'Trees and Woodland in the British Landscape' in the 'Archaeology in the Field Series' the following year, which, for the first time, brought 'Ancient Woodland' to the attention of conservationists and later foresters.

* published his monumental 'Ancient Woodland : its history, vegetation and uses in England' with its survey of woodland types and histories, populated with his own hand-drawn maps in 1980 and in 1989, 'The Last Forest: the story of Hatfield Forest', before confirming his new direction in 1990, when he became a research worker in the Department of Geography at Cambridge where he concentrated on historical ecology, in particular, the history of woodland and the landscape in England and Wales and where he continued to work to the age of sixty-one in 2000.

* in collaboration with American academic, Jennifer Moody, published 'The making of the Cretan landscape' in 1996, with a chapter devoted to 'History, pseudo-history and the use of evidence', twenty-eight years after being invited to the island in 1968 by archaeologist, Peter Warren, as the 'expeditionary botanist' for his Myrtos excavation and had the book described by one critic as being : 'informed throughout by a professional scientific understanding of environmental history and by a great acuity of methodology' together with a notable 'level of common sense.'

* in 2002, attended the 'Cambridge Conservation Volunteers 40th Anniversary' Bash in Hayley Wood in a great storm, which he later recalled as : "a great stir to rival, indeed surpass, 1987 and 1990 and we had to cut our way through fallen trees to get here at all and I remember we all crowded together and put our heads together and I bellowed my speech to the sound of great oak branches crashing down. It confirmed my opinion that the ability to shed branches is genetically determined and in consequence the distribution of fallen branches, for the oaks in Hayley Wood, was not uniform and an oak that can shed one branch was more likely to shed more than one."

* again in 2002, as 'Senior Fellow' and 'Keeper of the College Records', published 'Treasures of Silver at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge', an account of their provenance and acquisition with some dating from before the foundation of the College in 1352 and inherited from the Gilds which founded the College, with pride of place given to the ancient Drinking Horn, believed to be more than 700 years old.

* was affectionately remembered by one of the British delegates in 2005, in the Greek town of Ioannina at the plenary lecture on 'Mountains and Ecological History' at the  'European Conference on Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development in Mountain Areas of Europe''once the conference was underway I still recall the puzzlement of our Greek organising committee who had to root around in the basement for a traditional slide projector for his talk as he simply did not 'do technology' and certainly not PowerPoint! Furthermore, his lecture overran quite significantly, but there was no way anyone was going to interrupt the great man and of course we let him continue with his flow of narrative eloquence until he had exhausted all his slides and had said all he wanted to say.'

* in his seminal work, 'Woodlands', in the 'New Naturalist Series' in 2006, dismissed the notion that medieval Britain was one big forest wilderness of vast, looming oaks and the Industrial Revolution signalled a nationwide orgy of tree-felling and argued that the high point of forestation was sometime in the Bronze Age, industrialisation and urbanisation acted as a catalyst for preservation and since the creation of the Forestry Commission in 1919, the proportion of Britain covered in trees had risen from 4% to 12%.

* no stranger to publicly voicing opposition, having, some years before, fought the Forestry Commission over the planting of conifers, lent his weight to the opposition in 2010, to Government plans to sell off publicly owned forests, which might have seen them replaced by holiday resorts, golf courses and adventure playgrounds, with  : "A public body is better able to cope with these matters than random private owners.... it's important that people who have worked for many years in a place and got to know it, shouldn't be summarily thrown out by some stroke of a pen by some distant bureaucrat" and had the satisfaction of seeing the order rescinded in 2013.

 * in 2011 at the age of seventy-two at the 'Galway Garden Festival', armed with a slide projector, delivered : 'Irish Trees and Woods : History and Ecology' and began with : "Ireland in the interval between the end of the last Ice Age, let's say 12,000 years ago and the coming of the Neolithic farmers, let's say about 6,000 years ago, is likely to have been trees and trees and trees and  trees, from sea to sea and even to the tops of the mountains" and the following year, without the aid of a single written note, delivered his : 'Woods Past', to mark 'Woodlands Communication Day' :

* in 2012, in his 'The History of the Countryside' stated :'There are four kinds of loss...there is the loss of beauty, especially that exquisite beauty of the small and complex and unexpected, of frog-orchids or sundews or dragonflies. There is the loss of freedom, of high-ways and open spaces...There is the loss of historic vegetation, most of which once gone is lost forever...I am specially concerned with the loss of meaning. The landscape is a record of our roots and the growth of our civilization. Each individual historic wood, heath, etc. is uniquely different from every other, and each has something to tell us'.

* in 2014, unexpectedly holed-up in a hospital in Texas, in the context of the advent of ash dieback disease in Britain, produced in a fortnight, the complete draught of what became 'The Ash Tree', in which he stated : 'Get real. Stop letting the anthropology of commerce overrule the practical world. Stop treating plants (and bees) as mere articles of trade, like cars or tins of paint, to be made and bought in industrial quantities from anywhere. Importing a million cars does not imperil the cars that are already here, but trees are different ‘ and decried ' the casual way in which plants and soil are shipped and flown around the globe in commercial quantities, inevitably bringing with them diseases to which the plants at their destination have no resistance. This has been subtracting tree after tree from the world’s ecosystems; if it goes on for another hundred years how much will be left?'

* within 'The Ash Tree', lamented the loss and called for a revival in ‘the Science of Pathology’ which ‘has been scandalously neglected in Britain’, saying that when the Botany School at Cambridge became 'Plant Sciences', his generation became the last to be taught properly about tree disease : ‘I am one of the last survivors of a Critically Endagered Species. I belong in a Zoo.’

* in 2010 became a 'Life Fellow' at Corpus Christi and remained a frequent and notable presence around College and was remembered by student of law, Jamie Ranson as "a man of great dedication, exuberant spirit and sincere generosity. He made Corpus proud. From the red socks and sandals to the square atop his head and his particular way of saying "Do please be seated" at formals, he will be sorely missed" and had his passing honoured with the College flag lowered to half-mast, last Friday.

* will be remembered for the power of his poetic evocation of the world we have lost :

'The England of hamlets, medieval farms in hollows of the hills, lonely moats and great barns in the clay-lands, pollards and ancient trees, cavernous holloways and many footpaths, fords. irregularly-shaped groves with thick hedges colourful with maple, dogwood and spindle - an intricate land of mystery and surprise.'


'The seventy eventful years between 1870 and 1945 and even World War II itself, were less destructive than any five years since. Much of England in 1945 would have been instantly recognisable by Sir Thomas More, and some areas would have been recognised by the Emperor Claudius.'

'To the medieval, a Forest was a place of deer, not a place of trees.'

'To convert millions of acres of wildwood into farmland was unquestionably the greatest achievement of any of our ancestors.'

'In popular myth, Forest courts were blood-thirsty courts, cutting off the limbs etc. of even minor offenders against Forest law, but not a single case has been brought forward as evidence of this having been done.'

'Old trees, though uncommon, are a speciality of England. Europe is a continent of young or youngish trees, like a human population with compulsory euthanasia at age thirty; one can go from Boulogne to Athens without seeing a tree more than 200 years old.'

'The simplest conservation measure of all is three strands of barbed wire.'

Friday 13 February 2015

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodbye" to its scarce 'old' Champion of Lifelong Learning, David Watson

David, a man of abundant talent who chose to spend his life in Higher Education as an academic, manager, strategic thinker and policymaker and in the process enriched the lives of thousands of students and colleagues, has died at the age of sixty-five.

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

* was born, a Second World War baby boomer in 1949 in the small town of Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, passed
the 11+ exam and in 1960 went to Cheshunt Grammar School and at the age of thirteen, transferred to the prestigious boys' public school, Eton College, with his fees paid by 'Fleming Scholarship' through Hertfordshire County Council, which he later recalled as : "a short-lived pre-Sutton Trust-style initiative, immortalised in a novel called 'The Guinea Pig' by David Benedictus, very badly filmed with Richard Attenborough in the title role."

* left school in 1968 to study undergraduate History at Clare College, the second oldest of University of Cambridge's thirty-one colleges, where his academic brilliance was recognised in the granting of a 'Foundation Scholarship' and his musical prowess recognised in the award of a 'Choral Exhibition' which carried financial remuneration after he was tested for : 'A good ear, ability to sing in tune, a ‘true’ voice with the potential for blend, good sight-reading and genuine motivation' and involved him thrice weekly choral evensong and choral compline and extra services, such as Advent Carol services, All Souls and Ash Wednesday vigils, weddings, funerals, memorial services.

* graduated in 1971 with a First Class pass in both parts of the History Tripos, followed by an M.A. at the age of twenty-four in 1973 and then a PhD in 'Intellectual History' at the University of Pennsylvania in 1975 as a 'Thouron Scholar',  a generous exchange fellowship which paid for his two year's tuition, a stipend for his board, entertainment and travel and where his mentor, Bruce Kuklick, was author of  : 'ground breaking books on the history of American philosophy and religion, has also published a wonderful social history of a baseball stadium. I have used his example as an excuse for professional engagement with a wide range of historical and quasi-historical problems.'
* said in 1999 : 'In almost every context where I am asked to state my profession I like to say "historian." This is what I was trained to be, very intensively, as is the British style through undergraduate studies and the American practice in graduate school (incidentally, a combination I am happy to recommend). It is also a profession that I have continued to practice, even while much of my time has been seized by an alternative descriptor - more persuasive on the passport and for the bank manager - that of 'university administrator'.'

* having made the decision to teach in order to develop 'scholarly conversation' in his field, the history of ideas, eschewed the pursuit of a career in an elite university and at the age of twenty-six, took up his first teaching post to develop new courses at the newly merged Crewe and Alsager College of Higher Education in 1975 and left in 1981 as Senior Lecturer, Principal Lecturer in Humanities.

* in 1988 published 'Margaret Fuller : An American Romantic' based on his research on the 1810 Massachusetts-born philosopher who had published in 1845 America's first widely read feminist tract entitled 'Women in the Nineteenth Century' in 1845 and recognised that she : 'confused, unsettled and quite simply scared many of the men she met. Edgar Allan Poe divided humanity into three classes: men, women, and Margaret Fuller.'

* having moved to Oxford Polytechnic, at the age of thirty-two in 1981, progressed from the position of Dean of the Modular Course, to Deputy Director and finally Professor and focussed, in his first book on Higher Education practice, on its innovative curriculum in his 'Managing the Modular Course' in 1989 and expressed his continued interest in intellectual history in 'Arendt', published in 1992, based on the German-born political scientist, Hannah Arendt, in which he believed, in her philosophy she : 'identified with the existential pole of the Kantian legacy - and in part the achievement of Heidegger.'

* was appointed Director of Brighton Polytechnic in 1990 and from 1992-2005, Vice Chancellor of its successor the 'University of Brighton', where he was acknowledged not only as an outstanding university leader, but was also sought as an adviser and published as an author of influential works on higher education policy and curriculum: 'Developing Professional Education' in 1992, 'Managing the University Curriculum' with Jean Bocock in 1994 and 'Lifelong Learning and the University' in 1998, the year he received a knighthood for 'Services to Higher Education'.
* sat on the National Committee of Inquiry, chaired by Ron Dearing, whose Report was published in 1997, 'Higher Education in the Learning Society' and described its most controversial recommendation : to make students pay for their university education as : "one of the most eagerly awaited and arguably most distinctive acts of the New Labour Government" but was subsequently critical of the decision of the Blair Government to modify the proposals beyond the basic £1000 tuition fee and believed their actions to be "too greedy."

* in 1999 in the University of Brighton 'Millennium Lecture' entitled on 'The Necessity of the Historical Imagination' said : 'The principle of selection is, of course, always personal. In my case I feel very similar to the comedian Eddie Izzard when he was asked in interview "why on earth he had decided to put on his one man show in Paris, in French - a language he hardly knew ?"  He explained that he "likes to confront things that frighten him." '

* lent his services to the town of Brighton as Chair of the 'Brighton Festival' between 2002-2005 and, unusually for a Vice Chancellor, continued publish his research into Higher Education, which made it easy for him to return, in 2005, to a full-time academic role as leader of the 'MBA Higher Education Management' at the London Institute of Education, a programme for “people at the beginning of the middle of their careers.”

 * in 2007, told the House of Commons 'Select Committee on Education and Skills'"In the 1960s, when I was an undergraduate, there was a view that if you did not get in when your time came, you had missed it forever, and I think that culture has now changed. I think there is a view that higher education is there as a service that can be accessed in many different ways and at many different times during the life course. I think I am trying to play back to you, Chairman, the notion that none of these decisions are ever, once and for all, irrevocable decisions either to go or not to go; and for the students who decide not to go it is very important, I think, that the opportunity does remain there throughout the rest of their careers and their lives."

.* served as Chair of the Commission of  'Inquiry into the Future of Lifelong Learning' with its brief : "As a society we should be ambitious about the opportunities and capacity for learning by our members. The Inquiry hopes to establish not only why but also how we can achieve this" and co-authored its Report : 'Learning Through Life' in 2009 and the following year made, what was to be his last move to become Vice-Principal of Green Templeton College, Oxford, where he oversaw the opening of its Advanced Studies Centre in 2014, along with a new library for post grads and a new gym on the main college site.

* additionally supported cultural and social life of College with his wife, Betty Pinto Skolnick, where the erstwhile 'choral exhibitioner' and ever- keen musician, recognised as an 'Honorary Member of the Royal College of Music' in 2007, hosted regular informal music evenings in the Lodgings for amateur College musicians and in 2013 was instrumental in the installation of Susan Collins 'Bighter Later' illumination of the Radcliffe Observatory as part of 'Oxford Light Night Celebrations'.

* between 2005 and 2012 served as President of the 'Society for Research into Higher Education' and was described by the Chair, his Brighton colleague Yvonne Hillier as : “one of the few truly honest men who combined intellectual prowess with genuine concern and friendship for colleagues … His genuine warmth for colleagues in the research community was much appreciated by newer and fully established researchers alike.”

*  saw the citation for his 'SRHE  Fellowship' recognise in him someone who : ‘would make it possible for us still to believe in the magic of academe, because we could see everything that we valued embodied in that one person – a brilliant student, a wonderful colleague, an outstanding teacher and researcher, admired and respected inside and outside the institutions he led, prominent in national policymaking, and making a significant contribution in the field of research into higher education.'
* in 2014 was critical of the Russell Group universities, the 'magic circle' of 24 leading institutions, which he saw as a "self-promoting marketing group" which had come to be treated as an objective measure of quality and argued that many universities and individual departments outside the Group were as good as those on the inside, but there is no way for them to join this "gentleman's club" and "It is a blatant exercise in exclusivity, with the primary objective of cornering the market in resources and political influence."

* in the Autumn of 2014 delivered the Staff Lecture at the University of Adelaide entitled : 'Does Higher Education Make You Think ?' in which he said :"Lord Eric Ashby, Vice-Chancellor at Cambridge, thought that Higher Education should have its own 'Hippocratic Oath', that there ought to be some set of values signed up to as you joined the institution and I've played with this idea over a number of years and have a response to the 'Ashby Challenge' in the form of a set of ten potential Commandments for Higher Education." : (third of the way through clip) :

• Strive to tell the truth
• Take care in establishing the truth
• Be fair
• Always be ready to explain
Do no harm
• Keep your promises
• Respect you colleagues, and especially your opponents
• Sustain the community
• Guard your treasure
• Never be satisfied

* was described by Wes Streeting,  President of the National Union of Students between 2008 and 2010, in simple terms as :
 “One of the good guys in higher education : a fountain of knowledge

What better epitaph might an old champion of Higher Education in Britain have ?