Saturday, 18 August 2007

Lord Deedes Dies

Shurely Shome Mishtake

It is with sadness that I read the passing of William “Bill” Deedes at 94. Lord Deedes who had been a life long journalist (76 years) was still offering copy up till the end, I remember reading an article of his hardly 2 weeks ago in the Daily Telegraph and it was comparing Darfur to the atrocities of Nazi Germany.

Whilst he was somewhat an establishment figure as a Conservative, once a Cabinet Minister and for 11 years editor of the Daily Telegraph, his writing and opinions were for me very approachable and easy to read, a quintessential English gentleman he was.

He belonged to that generation of journalists whose appreciation of age made him a reliable fount of wisdom and no one would have imagined that he was nigh on to a century.

He chaperoned Diana, Princess of Wales as a fellow campaigner against mines in Angola and Bosnia.

At an earlier time he was golfing partner to Sir Denis Thatcher saving the man from the stress of being first man with nothing to do as his wife Margaret Thatcher changed the world.

For this he was satirised by the Private Eye as the Dear Bill to whom Denis Thatcher wrote letters about his life in the background being the husband of the Prime Minister, one might say it was service to the nation.

He covered wars and covered the Indian earthquake at 86 when he had a stroke, he was appointed ambassador for UNICEF at 85; for me, he represents the very few who grow old with infectious youthful zest, anyone would feel comfortable in his company and a towering example of life-long working like Peter Drucker and Alastair Cooke who both died in their nineties.

Of his kind, we might never see again, one is tempted to say this story of his death is “Shurely Shome Mishtake” a trademark saying as a result of his slurred speech. This however is a time to celebrate a full life and I would miss his quality of crisp English.

William Francis Deedes, Baron Deedes, KBE, MC, DL, PC – The Grand Old Man of Fleet Street – who preferred to be addressed as plain Bill is survived by a son who was once the Managing Director of the Daily Telegraph and three daughters, he was pre-deceased by a son and his wife.

References

Obituary: Lord Deedes – BBC News

Lord Deedes -Times Online

Bill Deedes - Wikipedia

Tributes pour in for Bill Deedes

Bill Deedes: Mentioned in dispatches

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