Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Float on

Proof, if any is needed, that the Telegraph does the best obits in the business.

I had never heard of Colin Merton before I read this. He sounds like a ghastly old reactionary. But the whole thing is worth it for the penultimate paragraph.

PS: And here's another DT deathgem: Dorothy Podber, the woman who semi-inadvertently created Warhol's Shot Marilyns. Incidentally, The Shot Marilyns was one of my teenage hypothetical band names, along with Tunafish Disaster. On the other hand, after reading Ms Podber's obit, 'Amphetamine Rapture Group' sounds even better...

15 comments:

wyndham said...

Roland Barthes will be spinning in his grave at the company he's in.

Murph said...

I read the skimmed version - it's much healthier.

Occasional Poster of Comments said...

Him and Roland Barthes.

Reading that, it doesn't sound like he'd have been too happy to have shared such an unusual cause of death with a Frenchman, does it?

Geoff said...

He won't forget Ernie.

Billy said...

I've never heard of him either, thankfully.

Brilliant obit though.

Tim Footman said...

Wyndham/OPC: Urban myth alert! Barthes wasn't killed by a milk float, it was a laundry van. Less undignified, but only slightly.

Murph: He should have stuck to Baker's Complete Shite. Your new friend's a hottie, btw.

I suspect Mr Merton was the only individual in the country for whom that comment would have been completely meaningless, Geoff.

That's the wonder of the Torygraph, Billy. Every day you find a new mad person you never knew existed, just after he's stopped existing.

Occasional Poster of Comments said...

Ah. I should have known that. Some years ago, I happened upon the truth while checking out whether it had been Barthes or Louis Althusser. I guess I just remembered the more entertaining version.

Althusser, it turned out, was just the one who got a tad confused while giving his wife a neck massage. Or so he said.

patroclus said...

I seem to remember that one of the wives of one of the pre-Raphaelites (Effie Millais?) also met the same end.

wyndham said...

I knew it as well, but who cares, history will remember it as a milk float.

Tim Footman said...

Barthes didn't have a wife whose neck he could massage, OPC. His inclinations lay elsewhere.

Which end, Patroclus? The milk float, the laundry truck or the massage? Or the end of history?

Wyndham: As Barthes might have argued, had he not been, um, dead, the milk float *signifies* his death, because that's what everyone thinks killed him, even if it was, in fact, a laundry truck. Although Baudrillard would then challenge the reality of the laundry truck.

Actually, do they have milk floats in Paris?

And I'm disappointed nobody mentioned these guys.

patroclus said...

The milk float. And I think it was Georgie Burne-Jones, and she was on her way to buy a seed cake at the time.

Tim Footman said...

Ah, so it's the combination of light commercial vehicles with food that's the problem (Barthes was returning from lunch with Francois Mitterand).

Does anyone else know of any famous people who met their demises in such circumstances? Was Field-Marshal Montgomery mown down by a Tesco van while eating a hot battered saveloy? Did Richard Wagner get on the wrong end of a pizza delivery moped while walking to Ludwig of Bavaria's birthday party? Answers to the usual address.

wyndham said...

I was once nearly killed by a Cadbury's Cream Egg travelling at 80mph. The confectionary rolled off the dashboard of my car and wedged itself under the brake pedal.

Occasional Poster of Comments said...

>>Barthes didn't have a wife whose neck he could massage, OPC. His inclinations lay elsewhere.<<

It was actually whether it had been Althusser or Barthes hit by a milk float that I'd been wondering about, rather than which one had strangled someone.

Tim Footman said...

I accept your self-identification as a famous person, Wyndham, but it might be stretching things to call a Cadbury's Cream Egg 'food'.

I know, OPC, I just wanted to make a childish reference to Barthes being a gayer.