2012 has been a rather poignant year for readers of obituaries. It made me think about who from the past, present or on the way into the annals of fame I consider heroes. Of course, not all of my heroes are famous, so it would be presumptuous for anybody to imagine that other people would only have 'famous' heroes. So, I ask here and now, who would count amongst your heroes?

I, and imagine others, will prepare for a 'Winston Churchill count', but what is far more interesting than a list of names, is saying what your heroes did or achieved in a very few words.

Of course, what, you might well ask (and rightly so) has this to do with SFN? Well, nothing really. However, it is the time of year when some of us play games, such as we played Cluedo here yesterday, or do this kind of thing for the pure joy of it. It is, I believe, as close as we shall get to a Christmas game and I invite you all to participate.

I did have an earlier post with heroines.

Glad you found my nomination, Jane. I thought the heroes and heroines had got taken over with the sillies!

When we took our daughter to the Tower of London one of the Yeoman Warders asked her if she liked it. Yes she said, it is nearly as good as Beatrix Potter’s house!
Boo sucks to the National Trust for selling off farms.
Also she was an expert in my favourite sheep, Herdwicks, wonderful mutton.
She was also a botanical artist as well as writing all her wonderful stories.

I don't have it on any kind of recording people, here is where you will find Burton's 'First Voice': http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuPO2Kvqlms

One of our neighbours was a Ms Myfanwy Price, obviously not the fictional one from the play, but a total fan of Dylan Thomas who had everything there was available. She did not have a sweet shop though!

But yes, I had forgotten 'Under Milk Wood' in those rich Welsh tones. Fantastic! My daughters went to pre-school on the corner of the street - 5 Cwmdonkin Drive in Uplands where he was born - when we lived in Swansea and the plaque on the house used to make me think, as you say, of Burton's voice.

Ah Yes. Dylan Thomas. But of course when we hear, in our mind, Dylan Thomas, we're really hearing Richard Burton. "To begin at the beginning........"

I think I agree and in a contest I suspect that the Welsh might well win an oration contest.

Let's hear it for the heroines too! Beatrix Potter for giving us the Lake District as we know it today - as well as the wonderful books.

A fine old English expression Carol. Applicable and adaptable to all manner of things.


I'll forego the cheese, my diet regime (no bull****) more or less bans it at present, although a large piece of Stilton was consumed over recent days - but only accidentally, of course. I don't actually drink blanc, but I vaguely remember some nice liqueur type things from short forays, many years ago and a couple of tots of that instead will do.

Good re Freud, I have been a Foucault fan for a long time and do hate being disloyal, even posthumously. Like the word 'contrarian' David, might adopt it. Dissenter sounds a bit gulagish or neo-Diggers.

@ Cate I was a little concerned by your analysis. Just for a moment it provided me with an explanation of my position. Thank goodness you made it all up and I can now rest safe in the belief that I am just contrarian by nature. Your heros by the way Cate; they're not real people you know. Many Americans were unwittingly using cocaine every day long after Freud abstained. Coca Cola not the same since they removed the Colombian Marching Powder.

Susan, as a former Floridian, I agree with you. I have been to Cuba. It is not a free society. Education and health services are free, unemployment almost non existent and there does not seem to be any racial tension.These are the good parts BUT how exactly are you 'free' if you cannot leave the country?

I agree, and I have let it go when considering I really did overkill months ago. I suppose, like too many of us, it is so entrenched in my head that I exceed myself with it. So I revert too easily and too often still. Which is stupid in its own way. But then I am the first to admit that I am (or at least was) eidetic rather than clever and have my head stuffed with minute details that are often excessive and I guess very often disproved or outdated. Lacking the genuinely clever bit I walk in where I don't really want to go. For all of that, Castro is still one of my heroes, so there folk!

I love debate though and get stuck in, as I guess you have noticed. It was brill during a cr*p year too when I need stimulus whilst working - as limited as that was.

I doubt you anger anybody, if they do get angry then hmmmm. No comment.

Have a great 2013!

I like your spirit Cate! You also gave me my first laugh of the morning with Beavis and Butthead.

Thank you Brian. I've always thought it sad that nobody visits his grave.

Cate, I did not say I was up in Cambridge with Turing. I said, if you carefully scroll back to the time, something about our department being next to his former department. Of course I knew he was gone before he died. I was only five or six years old when he died. None of it the same thing. Several of my then lecturers who later became colleagues and friends would have known him, given that some of them were around 30 years older than me, plus college membership and all that.

I see that you nit-pick where words are omitted and not edited, therefore stay missing and change content unintentionally. You do that very frequently too, in fact many of us do. Writing about the early 2009 Cuba mission I, for instance, typed '200 odd' where it should have been '20 odd' of us in the mission group, whereby the former would have been more of an absurd invasion than a human rights observers mission.

As for the political slant, without question anything that is slightly to the left has been continually slammed by you giving the impression I read out of your press born 'intelligence' about Cuba.

As for the report you refer to that I said you could have been citing, do not rule out the fact that you are citing a report where the one I am citing is possibly referred to. Yes, had it been the one that would have involved my participation, my name would appear, not as an author, but as one of the rapporteurs who was part of the mission but not delegation, which in UN terms is regarded as a more political group and for which role I am not eligible since I would have to be nominated by the UK who I doubt would touch me with a very long pole. But then, since I imagine you searched for my name very carefully, then it is, you might concede, another of the many UN reports available. I don't actually know whether or not the one I took part in is publicly available (I assume so, if not it would be sad) but it would not be a 2012 report which would make it far too long after we visited to be justifiable. Consultants, such as the ones who collated and authored the report, rarely have more than a three month contract, their reports are up within a further three months, so it would be late 2009 or very early 2010 in extremis.

I love the pseudo-psychoanalysis bit. Do you believe in that stuff? If more people did then a lot of us would have been locked up and key thrown away many years ago. I am a self-confessed, down the line socialist. I am not like the would-be socialists like France's PS or UK's Labour, I do not especially care for so-called communism which goes beyond the likes of Marx or Proudhon's ideas whatever is frequently claimed. However, what is characteristic of people of my political position, and there are plenty of us, is that class, injustice, lack of democracy, racism plus a few other -isms and certainly in the last half century, sexism, homophobia and destruction of the environment are views held of things we wish to see end. They used to say we are dissidents, things like that. In Freud's terms we are all nut cases, well so be it. I am sure lots of people would happily lock us all up in strait jackets. But the denigration theory versus critical thought does not hold much water really, does it? I suspect you do, thanks for the good laugh then! Freud, you may assume is not one of my heroes, nasty anally retentive man he must have been.

So Cate, I started with a simple question, you threw in the challenge when you reacted to angrily to David Gay and myself, and I foolishly went for it. I tried to reiterate my original point that this is an entirely subjective and personal choice. Now you drag this out like this. Including your own factually incorrect inaccuracies. You too might look further and deeper and not get so uppity when people show you have missed the mark.

Why I have been able to spend so much time on these things? Because 2012 was a damned awful year for my health and well being, I have been unable to work properly (in my terms) and have given more time to many of these things, head clouded by painkillers and sodium valproates much of it, bouts of depression at others. I am sure you will now tell me those things do not do that, but then it would be self-defeating if people in your medical world did. I am down to less than half dose of any and relatively soon off entirely and should (I hope) get my mind back and be able to work in long stretches and soon even travel again. That has of course been lots of fun, as I am sure you will know. SFN has been a highly valuable part of that time for me, but if you wish to sour that be my guest. Actually, I no longer see much point in bothering, except that I just happened to have 20 minutes to squander. Tell you what Cate, treat me as a persona non grata which will suit me fine.

By the way, what was wrong with Korczak? You did not feel like having ago at him, after all he is my number one hero!

It is entirely subjective and personal, so whatever anybody says to dispute a personal choice can never be valid. Thus said Susan, your grandfather is as valid choice as anybody else's. So, whether you or I admire people, and I am sure there are many, or call them our heroes is simply a choice of how we classify those individuals, no matter how we may be maligned for our choices.

It is likely he is buried in Acton, near Sudbury given that is where his station was: http://www.med-dept.com/unit_histories/136_sta_hosp.php

Failing that it may be Long Melford, Clare or Sudbury where there are graves for US personnel in each place. It is an extremely beautiful area, no distance at all from where I lived in Cambridgeshire and less than 30 minutes drive from Stansted Airport. Graves are usually easy to find from records in the UK and you may be able to enquire, then visit.

In thinking this thread over my list gets longer. What exactly is the difference between admiring someone and seeing them as a hero. I grew up admiring my grandfather Col. Joseph D. Stout who died before I was born. He was a neuropsychiatrist and professor at GW university. He was chief of intelligence in the Army medical section in Washington and served overseas in both world wars. He finished his life as commanding officer in the 136th station hospital in Suffolk England shortly before D-day. He was not shipped home after his death and is buried somewhere in England. As a child I mostly admired the man who I had heard spoke five languages fluently and collected rocks from each town that he had visited. What was it all for?

Rita Levi-Montalcini, the Jewish-Italian biologist joins my heroes. I did not realise she was still alive, except that she has just died this week aged 103. Her research into cell medicine and the fact that during WW2, especially after the German invasion in 1943 when she worked underground, have brought about more advances in medicine that virtually any other medical scientist. She also set up a foundation bearing her name that particularly benefited women and children in Africa. She is somebody to genuinely admire for giving her life to her science for the good of humanity.