The Right Coast

December 15, 2005
Where Is Thy Sting?
By Maimon Schwarzschild

Looking for something entertaining, yet informative, to take your mind off such things as threats of genocide from Iran or work that you'd just as soon get away from? (For us academics, it's exam grading season...) Obituaries in the London newspapers are a reliable pick-me-up. The Daily Telegraph offers a British diplomat whose hobby, or obsession, was designing symbolic garden mazes. (This will strike a chord with anyone who visited the Hampton Court Maze as a kid in England...)

Then there is this obit of Eugene McCarthy:
[When Robert F. Kennedy belatedly declared his candidacy against Lyndon Johnson, after McCarthy had done unexpectedly well in the New Hampshire primary,] the opposition to the Vietnam war was now split between Kennedy and McCarthy camps. McCarthy held in lofty disdain an opponent who posed as an idealist while being so obviously motivated by cautious political calculation.

"It's narrowed down to Bobby or me," McCarthy declared. "So far he's run with the ghost of his brother. Now we're going to make him run against it. It's purely Greek: he either has to kill him or be killed by him. We'll make him run against Jack. And I'm Jack."
But my favourite among this week's obit crop is the journo, editor, and cricket enthusiast Michael Davie who managed to take Groucho Marx to a cricket match in London:
After several turgid hours of county cricket, Davie asked the comedian if he was enjoying the experience. "It's great!" said Groucho. "When does it start?"