Who are your favourite people

One of mine is the late Bamber Gascoigne, the first and best host of University Challenge. Perhaps his reputation is enhanced in my mind because of my increasing frustration with Paxman’s supercillious attitude (yes I know he has Parkinson’s but he should have been replaced sooner) and the uninspiring prospect of the next one, Amal Rajan, the man who speaks so rapidly that all his words seem to morph into giant Germanic sentences.

Anyway, I stole this from my latest copy of The Oldie and thought I would share. By the way, I don’t remember one fast road in Afghanistan, but two, each built by the Russians and the Americans, but still…

Do you lie on the beach?

No, I get terribly sunburnt. I was ginger-haired as a young thing. When I was in the army, a group of us young officers spent a naughty weekend in Hamburg and saw the naked ladies and – at three in the morning, we were thrown out of all the clubs and decided we couldn’t afford to spend only four hours in a hotel. So we slept on the beach. We were all very drunk; so we just lay down on the beach. We didn’t wake up till 12 – God, we were burnt and we had to go on parade the next morning. I’ve never lain on a beach since.

Biggest terror?

In Afghanistan once, there was a very fast road, half-built by the Americans and the Russians.

We saw a family sitting near the edge of the road. Christina slowed down while the family got safely down a bank but, as she accelerated, the youngest child decided to run back over the road. She jammed on the breaks but he was bumped by the front of the car.

We stopped the car and a very sweet father was there. We looked at the child who seemed perfectly alright. He said, ‘Everything seems OK; don’t worry.’

I said, ‘We must give you some money,’ and offered him the equivalent of about ten quid.

They waved us goodbye and, as we were driving off, a different, furious-looking man, holding an enormous piece of stone, stood in front of the car, shouting ‘Money, money.’ He came round to the open window and, to my absolute astonishment, Christina offered him the same note we’d offered to the good man.

As he reached out to take it, our car roared away – she’d been in gear while holding a note in one hand. As we went, I looked in the mirror and saw this enormous stone gaining on us…

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I danced with Bamber Gasgoigne on a boat sailing down the Yangtze in China when I was about 20. Lovely man, especially as I didn’t know any ballroom dances so trod on his feet. The chinese people we were with were mad keen on ballroom, and couldn’t believe an english woman had no idea so he covered up for me.

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I wouldn’t have danced with him, but I would have loved to talk with him, he came across as such a nice, unassuming individual. :smiley:

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Totally agree with Amal Rajan, he needs elocution lessons.

Martin Lewis and James O’Brian.

Never danced with any of them but but I think they are voices of reason in a mad world



Am already ducking in anticipation of incoming flak!

Di you know him well?

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I’ve got eighteen books on him including Richardson’s magisterial four volume biography and also have Françoise Gilot and Jaime Sabartes’ books. I think that’s probably enough to have a reasonable understanding of a historical figure.

Not accusing you of doing so, but pre-emptorally, I never judge historical figures by contemporary mores, not least because I worry about how we might be judged in the future, whether it be our contribution to global warming or disgusting contemporary practices like factory farming.


Françoise Gilot is amazing, over 100 and still going strong and looking fab.

True, but I don’t think she’s in the same artistic league as the Aveyron’s recently deceased centurion artist, Pierre Soulages. Vastly underrated by the art world beyond France. The more I see of his work and learn about its sources, the more I rate him.

Great memory. All changed now since the Three Gorges Dam.

I wouldn’t put her in the same league as Soulages and can’t think why anyone would, frankly. I only thought of her because you were talking about Picasso and coincidentally their daughter Paloma was on Inter this morning.

Something you may have already seen in the NYT review of book by Annie Cohen-Solal - ‘Picasso the Foreigner’

Picasso in front of his Montmartre squat, known as the Bateau-Lavoir (the laundry boat), 1904.Credit…Musée National Picasso-Paris

I just thought how magnetic he looked when young. Despite being really short.


quote=“vero, post:12, topic:43073”]
I wouldn’t put her in the same league as Soulages

Of course not, it was merely a coincidence of age and nationality - but do French artists live longer? :wink:

It’s an interesting contrast to a lot of the recent material on him whether it be Arte’s current put down or today’s Guardian article on him where too much emphasis is given to the influence of African art on Demoiselles d’Avignon.

The NYT review made him sound more human but possibly not much more likeable.

What doesn’t really come through in the NYT book review, is that for much of his life Picasso was in fear of being deported to Franco’s Spain

I didn’t know him well but I met him twice. Very strange chap…

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Tell, tell!

Understandable. Pragmatically helped him survive Occupation. However, seems he suffered quite a bit of anti-Spanish prejudice in France before he became an artistic treasure.