Saturday 31 December 2016

Britain in 2016 was no longer a country for and said "Goodbye" to 36 remarkable old men who told it something about itself and had lived for a total of almost 3000 years


 6 January 2016

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to the Grandfather of stunt kite makers, Peter Powell

Thursday 19 January 2016

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodbye" to an old SAS veteran and mountaineer turned charity worker called John 'Brummie' Stokes

Monday 25 January 2016

Sunday 7 February 2016
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodbye" to a scarce 'old' Member of Parliament for Sheffield and ex-coalminer, Harry Harpham 

Wednesday 24 February 

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old cinematographer called Douglas Slocombe

Friday 26 February 2016

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell to its oldest and greatest test pilot, Captain Eric Winkle

Lynette Burgess ‏tweeted : 'Hard to grasp it was just one life....Captain Brown seems to have had many lives. Quite remarkable.' 

Wednesday 2 March 2016
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell to an old Educator called Ron Pepper, once a young geography teacher in the 1960s, who widened the lives of 6th formers at a school called Eltham Green

Monday 21 March 2016

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodnight" to its old and avuncular radio and tv broadcaster, Cliff Michelmore

Friday 25 March 

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to a son of Yorkshire and authentic voice of its people called Barry Hines

Sally Hines, Barry's daughter tweeted : 'That's really great. Thanks John'

Andy Caulton ‏tweeted : 'I SO appreciate this John.....I grew up in an education system, close to Kes, and became the antithesis of Sugden as a PE teacher.'
Paul Hanks ‏tweeted : 'He lived opposite my grandad, my dad was at Ecclesfield with Barry.'

Saturday 2 April
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodbye" to a scarce 'old', charismatic Housing Pioneer called Tom Manion

Professor Paddy Gray ‏tweeted : 'What a fitting tribute To Dr Tom Manion. I feel so privileged to have known him personally. Inspirational leader in housing.'

5 April 2016 

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to 'Thunderclap' Newman and old men remember 1969 when they were young men and "there was something in the air."

Sunday 10 April 2016 

Britain is a country robbed by Alzheimer's of its great, theatre stage, set designer, John Gunter

17 April 2016

Britain is to be no longer a country for an old physicist and polymath of genius called Professor David Mackay

Carl Smythe ‏tweeted : 'Thanks! Captures the spirit of the man who was interested in (and very good at) everything, and right about NHS thermoregulation!'
The Agency of Design ‏tweeted : 'A reminder of his many achievements. Privileged to have met him. Great Man.'
Frances Clarke ‏tweeted : 'Thank you, much appreciated. Love the blog quote: 'We need a constructive conversation about energy, not a Punch and Judy show'.'
Dr Roberto Trotta tweeted : 'Touching and informative tribute to the life of a great scientist, David Mackay.' 
Ash Jogalekar ‏tweeted : 'What an amazingly versatile mind: A real loss and an enduring memory.'

Jude Clemente ‏tweeted : 'Wow. the thing I remember about him was his Sustainable Energy book, he offered it for free. ideas and thoughts over money.'

Friday 5 August 2016

San Serriffe is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to its greatest publicist and Britain its greatest April Fooler, Geoffrey Taylor

Sunday 14 August

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to its scarce old, church minister-clown, Roly Bain

Janet Henderson tweeted : 'Was it Teilhard de Chardin who said joy is an infallible sign of the presence of God? Thank you John'
Elizabeth tweeted : 'Thanks - a lovely tribute. He taught me + was a v generous spirited clown, but, had a gentle, quiet depth away from the audience.'
Diocese in Europe tweeted : 'An amazing man. A lesson in being "fools for Christ"?'

Saturday 20 August

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to its uncrowned 'King of Farce' and crowned 'Champion of the Disabled', Brian Rix

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old black and white photographer and son of Clerkenwell called Colin O'Brien

Wednesday 7 September 

Britain is a country which says "Farewell" to an old son of Yorkshire, author-illustrator of children's books and magician of colours, Brian Wildsmith

Sunday 18 September 

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to the Grand Old Man of Myrmecology and the World of Ants, Cedric Collingwood

Thursday 22 September

Britain is no longer country for and says "Farewell" to an old Welsh painter called Wilf Roberts who haled from Anglesey and responded to its 'hiraeth'

Friday 7 October 2016

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to its Grand Old Man of Paleopathology, Don Brothwell

Dr Yvette Bee ‏tweeted : 'Shared train ride with Don early in my career. Asked where archaeology was going. He said towards science. I ended up a scientist.'

Saturday 22 October 2016

Britain says "Farewell" to an old soldier called Stan Hilton, the last of its sons who upheld its name fighting fascists in the Spanish Civil War

Sunday 23 October 

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodbye" its much loved, old TV comedy sketch writer, Jimmy Perry

Saturday 23 October 

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to the old illustrator, Martin Aitchison, who gave its 1950s and 60s children 'Luck of the Legion' and 'Peter and Jane'

Saturday 19 November 2016

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to and old Pharmacologist, devoted to philanthropy and music called Ralph Kohn

Monday 28 November 2016

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to Paul Findlay, the almost forgotten Director of the Royal Opera House who extended its reach to more people both young and old


Monday 5 December 2016 

Britain is a country and Scotland a nation which say "Farewell" to an old newspaper golfing correspondent called Raymond Jacobs

Saturday 10 December 2016

Britain says "Farewell" to a old rock musician called Greg Lake, but not "Goodbye" to his musical belief in Father Christmas

Friday 16 December 2016

Britain is a country and Scotland a nation which say "Farewell" to an old, wartime airman called Jock Moffat, who 75 years ago, as David, attacked a battleship called The Bismarck, his Goliath

Monday 19 December 2016

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old and fearless TV news, war correspondent called Michael Nicholson

Alistair Stewart, ITN Newscaster tweeted :
'Wow; comprehensive, candid & well written. Thanks. Alastair Stewart'
Roy Woodcock ‏tweeted : 'Thanks John; that's such a moving piece' and  'Forget the odd typo, this is a great read. Just an incredible story'

Malcolm Munro ‏tweeted : 'Thank you. Beautiful tribute'

Friday 30 December 2016

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old founding father of Ethology, the science of animal behaviour, called Robert Hinde

Friday 30 December 2016

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old founding father of Ethology, the science of animal behaviour, called Robert Hinde

Robert, who played a crucial role in integrating ethology, the scientific study of typical behaviour patterns in animals, with other fields, such as psychology, has died at the age of 93.

He was born in 1923 in Norwich, the youngest of four children, the son of  Ernest, a GP who had married Isabella, a nursing sister he'd met at Guys Hospital, where he had trained having studied medicine at Cambridge with the intention of becoming a medical missionary He, however, lost his faith at University and reconciled himself to becoming, as he put it, ‘just a doctor.’ His father had an intense interest in natural history and also the ancient history of the Middle East, where he'd served in the Galipoli Campaign during the First World War. Robert later said that he was sure that 'his encouragement of my natural history instincts were important.'

Robert's was an upper middle class, privileged childhood, he had a nanny and the house was served by a cook, a housemaid and a house parlour maid. There was a part-time gardener and a chauffeur for the cars and his early learning was paid for at Unthank College in Norwich which he remembered as a : "second-rate private day school."

At the age of 11, in 1934, he was packed off to the Oundle, the Independent Boarding School for Boys in Northamptonshire and recalled : "I hated it; I made no real friends there; known from early on as "the professor" as I wore glasses; not myopic but father mistakenly thought I had a squint aged two and had to wear glasses; not very good at games," Some of his teachers, however, were to have a formative influence on him. There was his Head of House, who he said "was a keen naturalist and wrote a good book on flowers of the 'Coast' for the 'New Naturalist Series'; took boys rock climbing and took me bird watching a lot." Years later he recalled : "him taking me to Ailsa Craig, which is an island in the Firth of Clyde, where we watched, counted gannets. He was engaged in counting all the gannets in the world."

He was not allowed to study biology since "that was for farmers" and concentrated on chemistry, physics and maths and was taught English by the Headmaster, Kenneth Fisher's daughter-in-law, who made him "not just a scientist" by supplying him with books to read after he had left school, during the Second World War. He also came under the influence of Captain Collier M.C. who had retired from the Indian Army and "who had taken up collecting butterflies when he got back from India and had to give up shooting" and together they went to woods to collect black hairstreak butterflies.

Before he began active service, in the RAF, in the War, Kenneth Fisher, himself a keen ornithologist who would have the distinction of being arrested by American military police while bird watching without id at Polebrook Airfield during the War, had secured him a place at St John's College, Cambridge, which he would take up after the War, While he waited for his 'call up', having left school, he worked for the Young Men's Christian Association, driving a van taking tea round to the anti-aircraft sites in Norfolk which he remembered as
"neither young, nor men’s, nor Christian as far as I could make out, but, it was quite fun." He also worked with, James Fisher the ornithologist son of Kenneth, who was doing rat control research in the Port of London.

In 1940 he was sent to Southern Rhodesia and recalled as being, on the journey out as : "totally unprepared for life on a troopship. For life really. It was such a sheltered situation in boarding schools as they were then. And, my first few months in the Air Force, going on to this troopship, the Highland Princess, I took a lot of getting used to living with people who weren’t public school boys, who were very different from me. Thank God I did have that experience, but, it seemed difficult at the time."

On arrival in Africa he did his pilot training on tiger moths and recalled one instructor. Flight Lieutenant Whiffen, who sat next to him in the cockpit and nonchalantly said : "Now come on fucking Hinde, just look at your fucking air speed. One hundred and fucking five miles per fucking hour. Now pull your fucking finger out." 

Having been selected for for Coastal Command, he was sent to South Africa to train as a navigator. He returned home on a troop ship via South America, a journey which took many months. He recalled : "I was then a mild sceptical Christian, but the man I was on lookout duty with (for submarines ), was a passionate atheist; talked for weeks and weeks and when we got to England, he was a Christian and I was an agnostic."

He was first posted to a squadron of Sunderland flying boats operating in the Indian Ocean from Ceylon with an outstation in the Maldive Islands, searching for the Japanese fleet and submarines where he "was never involved in killing anybody and the dangers were either running out of fuel, bad weather." On return to Britain he trained as a Sunderland captain and did a few operational trips before the War ended in 1945. He also taught chemistry and maths for a couple of weeks at Oundle "in uniform, so I had no disciplinary problems whatsoever." He thought it was quite an important time for him to "get in touch with the world again."

Throughout his undergraduate life, he "spent a great deal of time on the Cambridge sewage farm watching migrant birds" where he came across a bird "that had never bred in Britain before, or so was believed and that was the moustached warbler." He recalled :"We got various other people to come, famous birdwatchers from all over the country came to see this bloody bird, and, they brought skins to compare it with, and, great volumes of the birds of Europe and everything and eventually the British Ornithologists’ Union, recognised it as a genuine
He was also instrumental in organising watches at different sewage farms all over the country to see how migrant waders behaved "the idea being to see whether the migration took place on a narrow front or on a broad wave" and he gave his first academic lecture to the Oxford Bird Club on 'The birds of Southern Rhodesia,'

In the last year at Cambridge he just did zoology but "used not to enjoy the dissection very much and sat next to a slightly younger student who felt the same about dissection whose name was David Attenborough" and recalled : "We used to help each other with our dissections. And, I always claimed that he wouldn’t be there, wouldn’t be where he is if I hadn’t done his dissections for him."

He found his work on the warbler got him his first job, in 1948, David Lack, the ornithologist, saw it and offered him a post as research assistant on £300 a year at Oxford University with the possibility of doing a D.Phil which materialised as a 'Behavioural Study of the Great Tit' which he recalled as : "Ex-servicemen had all sorts of things that they could get away with in those days and I did two years wandering round Wytham  Woooutside Oxford, just with a notebook and a pencil and a pair of binoculars, writing down what I  saw." 
He admitted his naivety at the age of 25 : "I knew nothing about the world in those days, absolutely nothing, and I didn’t know anything about jobs, and I was glad to have an opportunity to go on doing something that interested me." It was an existence partially condoned by his father who said : "Robert, you will never earn a living watching birds, but if that’s what you want to do, you do it."

It was at this time that he came under the influence of the Dutch biologist, ornithologist and later Nobel Prize winner, Niko Tinbergen, who he recalled as "the person who really influenced me; he was a very charismatic man who did everything himself"
Niko became Robert's unofficial mentor and introduced him to "a new way of studying birds, a new, studying behaviour, called ethology." Niko and an Austrian doctor, Konrad Lorenz, had started this new approach before the War and Robert adopted it and "did an analysis of the courtship and aggressive behaviour" of his birds in "terms of conflicting drives, based on a model that he had and somehow made what I was doing not just birdwatching." and found "it worked as it were. "

Having successfully completed his DPhil in 1950 at the age of 27, he gained the position of Curator of the Ornithological Field Station, Department of Zoology at Cambridge on the newly acquired Madingley Estate, a position he held for the next 14 years. He did more work on great tits and finches but also on canaries and was able to "show the interaction between changes in the external world, like daylight, the endocrine changes in the bird, changes in the behaviour of the bird which produced new stimuli to which it responded, which produced new endocrine changes in the bird." Years later, he would look back on his 'wonderful time at Madingley, with researchers coming in and out all the time, passionately interested in animals and in their research, being able to communicate with each other.' At the same time he reflected that : 'There is nothing more dreary than the mechanics of research; I spent five or six winters on my knees in a cold, draughty wooden bird room recording how often a chaffinch chinked when I put an owl in front of it.'

He also recalled : "When I was a fellow at St Johns, there were five historians in the College and they used to laugh at me and say : "Here's young Hinde. He thinks he's going to make the world a better place by studying chaffinches behind the pub in Maddingley. We historians, we know that the world will never be a better place." I used to think they were a lot of cynical bastards."

It was in these years that he carried out research into such behaviours as those involved in courtship and also in 'imprinting', an ethological term for 'rapid learning' that only takes place in a certain developmental period that is very resistant to change and effects later social interaction.

In 1951, a year after his appointment as Curator at Madingley, Robert returned to St John's College as Research Fellow and in the 1950s was subsequently appointed 'Steward', which he recalled as being :  "in charge of food in the hall and the undergraduates' wine cellar. They did not realise I had no interest in either." 
He subsequently became a 'Fellow' and 'Tutor' instead of Steward, which he enjoyed, as it brought him into contact with undergraduates." He gave this up in 1963 when he was offered a Royal Society Research Professorship which allowed him "to follow my research interests wherever they have led me" and "got the opportunity to supervise Jane Goodall (left) and later Dian Fossey on gorillas; spent time in their camps getting all the excitement and pleasure of their research on chimps and gorillas without having to do any of the hard work."

He found it easy to raise money for research and "had one grant application turned down because I had not asked for enough money." He was also in contact with a Colonel in the United States Air Force based in Brussels who "came to see the work that I was doing with canaries; as a result he wrote a grant application for me to the American Air Force and I got support from them for three years." He recalled that the colonel insisted that, in the grant application, "I should say that I had
been a pilot, because, ‘that will make it more relevant to the generals in Washington.'" It was written at one o'clock in the morning after sherry, dinner and wine, followed by scotch in Robert's room in College, where the colonel insisted that it should be called 'Nest-Building Skills in Canaries', because, as Robert recalled, the Colonel said "that shkill is what you fly a bomber with."  Three years later, after the same scenario, Robert said : "We were just getting into the Space Age, it was ’59" and the colonel said : "We’ll call it 'Sensory Deprivation in Canaries,’ because I used to take the nest material away from them for certain experiments."

Robert's work on the imprinting in parent-offspring relationship in birds came to the ears of the psycho-analyst, John Bowlby, who was interested in the early relationship of mothers to their children. John was very concerned with the fact that parents were not allowed to visit their children in hospital, except in visiting hours and felt this was bad because before the War he'd worked a lot with adolescents who had got into trouble and found that nearly all of them had had a separation experience from their parents. John wanted
experimental evidence, to show that the mother-infant relationship could be damaged by periods of separation and with his help Robert set up six groups of rhesus monkeys, each with a male and three or four females and their young and over a period of ten years was able to show that ten days separation could produce effects that could be picked up two years later in their inability to cope with stressful situations and was gratified to see that his findings "did help Bowlby to get the hospital regulations changed."

On his own admission Robert, for a few years after the War "didn’t think really very much about it, about its horrors." This changed in the 1950s when he recalled : "Then I gradually began to think back and it, it came to me and I started to write a book about nuclear weapons and the horrors of them. And, I used to sit up until three o’clock in the morning trying to write this book and I realised I couldn’t do it and eventually I got the help of a group of other people, and we  produced a book called 'Defended to Death.'

At the end of the 1950s he got involved in 'Ex-servicemen's Campaign Against Nuclear Disarmament' and moved on to 'Pugwash', an organisation that grew out of the 1955 'Russell-Einstein Manifesto' against nuclear weapons with the first meeting held in 1957 which involved scientists from both sides of the Iron Curtain.
His work with 'Pugwash' brought him into contact with Joseph Rotblat, a Polish physicist who had worked on the Manhattan Project and who he described as : "The most incredible man I ever met" and the "moving spirit in International Pugwash, which became a meeting of international scientists interested in this issue, mostly physicists, but not all."

It was his desire to do something 'worthwhile' which made him produce studies of aggression and war and how to stop it and he considered himself  : "very lucky to have got involved in Pugwash, an organisation primarily of scientists which, by maintaining an impeccable reputation, is able to influence governments; that sort of meets everything I want to do."  Publications followed : 'Education for Peace' in 1989, 'The institution of War' in 1991 and 'War no More' at the age of 80 in collaboration with Joseph in 2003.

Robert's research with non-human primates in the 1960s and 1970s led to his interest in the nature and dynamics of relationships between people and from there to relationships between family members and between peers. He voiced his interest in the relationship between psychology and ethology when he published 'Animal Behaviour: A Synthesis of Ethology and Comparative Psychology' in 1966.

'Relationships' were the key to his work in the 1970s and 80s : 'Towards Understanding Relationships' in 1979 and 'Individuals, Relationships and Culture' in 1987 and in the 1980s, Robert and his second wife, Joan, researched pre school children's family and school relationships and how they affected personality development. He believed that : "In studying personal relationships, I thought I was doing something important because there was no science of human relationships, only studies of human interactions, short term interactions and we really felt as if we were starting a new branch of science."

Robert's transition from birds, to primates and finally humans was prompted by his question that although 'I spent a lot of time doing things that were tremendous fun, but were they really doing any good to the human race ?' He had questioned whether the human race was any better for his study of canary and finch courtship and concluded that it wasn't. Although he 'sometimes kidded himself that any advance in science is worthwhile.'

In 1989 at the age of 66 he relinquished the Royal Society Research Professorship, which he had held for 26 years and was elected Master of St John's, a position he held for the next five years where he enjoyed being "at the centre of things; spent a lot of time raising money for a new undergraduate library; did about sixty meetings all over the world." He also recalled that when he took up the position he promised himself that : "I would try and come to terms with this religion business, which I had put on the back burner when I was quite young." The result was 'Why Gods Persist' published in 1999 in which he was "trying to use all the biology, psychology and social science that I have learnt to bear on the question why people believe in gods and why religion is so powerful.'
It proved that, at the age of 76, his mind was as sharp as ever with his argument that religion consisted of six elements : structural beliefs, narratives, ritual, a moral code, religious experience and a social aspect and his belief that you can account for as consequences of human nature and "that you don’t need to postulate a deity."

After retiring as Master of St Johns in 1994 he continued to lecture on 'personal relationships' to Social and Political Science undergraduates but "gave that up when I was eighty, as I thought it was improper to be lecturing on love to young students."

Robert said, with perfect self-effacement and without reference to his own role : "I think ethology is, has done its job. Its message that you must start with the observation, if you’re studying behaviour, of what happens in natural societies, natural environment has been taken up and of the four questions, four whys ? : causation, development, function and evolution, have been taken up by many other scientists."


"I always thought that studying behaviour would be a contribution, however tiny, to human happiness."

Robert's good friend at Cambridge, the anthropologist, Jack Goody, died in 2015 :

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old and revered anthropologist called Jack Goody