Monday, December 28, 2015


When Brian was about twelve, he was allowed to go to the animal shelter and pick out a pet dog. It was not a difficult choice: one look at each other and Brian and Josie were instant friends. Several months later, Brian's father felt that he was not getting a good enough education in California, and enrolled him in Kent's School in Connecticut. From that time, Josie became, in effect, our family pet. We all loved her, and still remember incidents from her life in the late 1970s. There was the time she endured the pain of a thorn in her foot, and she was so pathetic as she held up her leg, and her eyes conveyed a plea for help. At the time, Nick had recently received his driver's license, and he was able to take Josie to the vet, who took care of the problem. As time passed, Josie's life came to an end. Is it my imagination that we buried her somewhere on our property? We all loved that little dog.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Buster was a friendly Bedlington, belonging to my aunt May. Buster was a medium-sized dog, and I enjoyed playing with him in the early years of my life.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


We Rentons bought our lovely black cat when we moved to 1000 Spruce Street in 1969. I was more of a cat person than a dog person, and I was very fond of that cat, as was Nicholas. There were two dreadful cats at 1000 Spruce when we moved in, one of them being called "Mama Kitty". I disliked both these cats, and was glad when they disappeared from our lives a few years later, from causes I don't remember.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


My eldest sister, Evelyn, loved her Cairn terrier, "Tatters". However, Evelyn suffered from asthma, and after undergoing various tests, was told to avoid animal hair. I don't remember how Tatters passed from our scene, but he was the last pet when our family lived at Dovers.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


No one would ever accuse me of being a pet lover, although I have some happy memories to share of pets I have known and loved. In general, I prefer cats to dogs, because they do not usually inspire loyalty, and can fend for themselves during short absences of their owners. Also, I dislike yapping dogs, worry about being bitten, and deplore it when visitors to our home bring their dogs inside without asking permission first. Nevertheless, I have some happy memories of certain pets, and I am planning to write several blogs about them. Barbara and I have not had a pet for some thirty years. Originally, this was because we were frequent world travelers, and the obvious choices between putting a dog in kennels, or twisting a family member's arm to look after our pet in our absence did not appeal to us.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Encounter: Sir David Attenborough

David was born in 1926, the same year as Barbara and Queen Elizabeth. We met at a shore course at a naval base near Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands. He was the younger brother of Richard Attenborough, who had made his name as an actor in the film In Which We Serve. Richard died in 2014, but David is still alive as I write. I was a Midshipman at the time, probably in 1944, when we met. I liked David, and have followed his career with interest. He has achieved considerable fame as a naturalist, and was knighted in 1985. He also received the prestigious award of Companion of Honour CH.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Ed Howell

I had already begun to specialize in professional liability for consulting engineers (and later architects) when one of my clients told me about a new company that was being formed, known as Design Professionals Insurance Company (DPIC). I followed the suggestion to get to know Ed Howell who had successfully raised enough capital from his clients to start the company. At that time, Ed was wearing two hats, acting as a broker as well as managing the new company. Hearing of my interest, he let me loose on some small accounts, a long way out of town, and I was able to sell him coverage in DPIC. The companies board pointed out to Ed that there was a conflict of interest in what he was doing, so he reluctantly gave up acting as a broker and I soon inherited his accounts. DRA soon became the most successful producer for DPIC. The next step was the formation of a reinsurance company "DPAC Re". After some years, DPIC no longer had the strength to maintain its independence, and the program was taken over by a more conventional company. Many years ago, Ed's Wife, Jo Howell died, and Ed followed her in death soon thereafter.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Encounter: Warren Hellman

Until his untimely death a few years ago from leukemia, Warren was a wise, generous, and wealthy person. Without his financial support, we would not have Freight and Salvage as prime local venues. He was an enthusiastic, but (as he admitted) very talented banjo player. He formed a group he called The Wronglers. He was the major supporter of my talented step-daughter Laurie Lewis. One day, she introduced him to me at the "Freight". Warren was the initiator of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. One day Barbara and I were walking around the perimeter of one of the meadows in Golden Gate Park used for "Hardly Strictly...", to my surprise, we came across Warren and a friend walking in the opposite direction. I blurted out "Oh, Warren: I didn't expect to see you here". He promptly replied "I don't know why not: It is my party". Of course what I meant was that meeting him there was a surprise, but I've always thought of his response as the "perfect squelch".

Monday, October 19, 2015


I played the position of blindside, wing forward for the first XV. My job was to ensure that the fly half of the other team did not sneak past the scrum by going to the blindside. I was lucky that "Tank" Adams played on the second row of the scrum, also on the blindside. This meant that I was not expected to give much of a push during a scrum. I could break away quickly to ensure that the opposing fly half didn't get very far if he chose to run on my side of the scrum. I had one unusual skill. I was an effective dribbler when the ball came loose, usually able to advance it several yards toward the goal before an opposing player could fall on it. These talents enabled me to be awarded my colors relatively early in the season, in contrast to the rather pathetic performance I gave in soccer.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


At Port Regis, the equivalent of earning a letter, was being awarded "colors." First XI colors were awarded to the ten other members of our first team, a fact indicated by wearing stockings with a bright red band at the top. Second XI colors resulted in red and white bands at the tops of stockings. I was the center forward for the first XI, but for several weeks, I played wearing the second XI colors I had previously earned. Finally, after several weeks, I became the last member of the team to be awarded first XI colors. If you draw the conclusion that I was really not a very good soccer player, you would be right.

Monday, October 5, 2015


The rules of squash are easy to learn, and it is great fun to watch two well matched players as they complete. There was a court at the naval college in Dartmouth, which is where I learned to play the game. Of course, the regime at Dartmouth virtually forced us to remain fit- and one needs to be fit to be successful at squash. For many years, I did not play the game, but soon after joining Barbara at 1000 Spruce Street, I suggested we try to take up the game. It was not a success. Although I believe I was in reasonably good shape at the time, I no longer had the stamina that I enjoyed as a teenager. I believe that we had access to the squash courts at the UC, but I think we only once tried to play a game there. I just could not move around quickly enough, and so I abandoned this excellent game before my 40th birthday.

Friday, October 2, 2015


Although American truck drivers were stationed at Filton, near Bristol in 1943. And we probably had an opportunity to see them engaging in some sporting activities, I did not play any softball until the college moved up to Eaton Hall sometime toward the end of 1943. All British boys knew how to pay "Rounders" the somewhat elementary form of the same game. I was a weak batter, did not pitch, and could not throw in from the outfield. I played short stop adequately and performed well in the game without displaying any particular talent.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


No, not ice hockey- field hockey! We were trained at the naval college to be able to play a wide variety of sports, because when we were "showing the flag" around the world to expatriate Brits, we would often engage in an informal game. I can only actually remember one game of hockey, and I don't think I distinguished myself in anyway. However, I do remember that one would not need a playing field of grass: field hockey could be played on any reasonably level pitch. I don't remember that we ever brought our own hockey sticks with us, instead relying on borrowed equipment.


It has been many years since I last played croquet. A sport in which I performed quite well. Some croquet players indulge in a practice I deplore. When they succeed in striking their ball to touch an opponents, they pick up their ball, place it next to the one they have hit, and plant a foot on their own ball while striking it hard enough to send the other ball a long distance away. This eliminates the skillful tactic of sending the other ball far away, without picking up one's own ball. One advantage of croquet is that it can be successfully played on a small lawn, perhaps as small as a quarter of the space between the lines of the tennis court. We no longer have any of the equipment: mallets, balls, hoops, and the stick which is the final target in the classic form of the game. I miss it all.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Four Seasons?

It amuses me when someone writes that a certain day is the "official" first day of summer Who is the official who ordains this? I have never understood why (in the USA, at least) Midsummer Day is considered the first day of the summer season. In the northern hemisphere, for example, Spring arises earlier in Italy than in Norway To me, seasons are not governed by the calendar. "Spring will be a little late this year" shows the better usage. Tulips and daffodils, for instance, don't make their appearance on a given calendar day. I like that cheeky ribald rhyme, which goes like this: Hooray, Hooray, the First of May: Outdoor (bonking) begins today!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Encounter: Peter Kelly

I met Peter Kelly through Ed Howell and for many years, we were close friends. At the time, in the early 80s, he was finance chair of the DNC. He served as senior political advisor to Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and John Kerry. As a lawyer, he was an active lobbyist, particularly interested in international relations. His home was in Hartford, CT, but he also had a second home at the mouth of the Connecticut River. Barbara and I were invited there for a meal, and he had forgotten to tell his wife, which caused some embarrassment when we arrived.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Encounter: Keith Murray

When I went back to Oxford in 1949, Keith Murray was the director of Lincoln College. He had an unusual career, in that he had begun his association with the college (at the time one of Oxford's poorest) as Bursar. It is most unusual for someone whose university career begins in looking after the finances, and ends up being elected as the Head of the college. Keith was an agronomist who received a Commonwealth Fund Fellowship to spend three years at Cornell, where he obtained his PhD. In 1953, after retiring from the Rectorship of England, Keith was appointed chairman of the university grants committee. He had a distinguished career in various fields until his death in 1993 at the age of ninety.

Monday, August 17, 2015


It was common knowledge years ago that those suffering from celiac disease needed to have gluten-free food. It seems that calling for gluten-free food has become fashionable, even for those whom have never suffered from celiac disease. I know of several people who insist on gluten-free food and say that they "feel much better" by eliminating gluten from their diet. Is this just a fad? Personally, I do not have a problem with gluten, or with eating gluten-free alternatives. I can't readily taste the difference.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Encounter: Sir Maurice Shock

Sir Maurice Shock became the Rector of Lincoln College in 1987, and we became good friends in the annual visits that Barbara and I were making to the UK in those years. Maurice had been knighted when he was Vice-Chancellor at the University of Leicester. (In the British system, the Chancellor is usually a figurehead, and the Vice-Chancellor is the effective academic head of the university.) On one occasion, Barbara and I stayed with Maurice and his wife at the Rector's lodgings, quite a privilege. Maurice visited us in Berkeley one year

Monday, August 3, 2015

Encounter: Lord Primrose

I knew the young man who has since seceded to the title of Earl of Rosebery when we were both at Oxford. At one point I lent him some money at his request (probably £5) and he was very reluctant to repay that sum. I knew he was the heir to the Earl of Rosebery, so I eventually wrote to the father, explaining that I needed the money, which he promptly repaid. At the time I did not realize that his grandfather had married a Rothschild, so there was plenty of money in the family.

Monday, July 27, 2015


I was once the treasurer for a Boy Scout troop. That usage effectively describes a small but indefinite number of folk. Despite the difference in spelling, that description also applies to a "troupe" of actors, and possibly of musicians. The plural form has long been used to describe an indefinite number of warriors. For the most part, these are soldiers (or possibly marines). Unfortunately, that plural form has become used as a synonym for soldiers as in the ugly expression that (say) "23 troops were killed". This usage is too well entrenched to be eliminated, so that all that one can do is to deplore it.

Monday, July 20, 2015


I was never much of a cricket player, unlike my relative Peter Lindsey-Renton, who for many years played for Reigate Priory club in the city of my birth. When batting, I never scored many runs, although a report from my prep school mention that my stone-walling could break the heart of opposing bowlers. I was delighted that at Dartmouth I had the choice of sailing or rowing, rather than playing cricket. My lack of interest in playing did not extend to my interest in the game. As a resident of Surrey, I was a natural supporter of that County team. I still remember some of the names of famous Surrey cricketers, such as Laurie Fishlock. I especially appreciated the bowling talents of Alec Bedser, and his teammates Lock and Laker. I still go online to checkup on the doings of England in Test Matches. (As a small child, I never understood why people were interested in "Test" Matches: why were there never any real matches?) When fielding, I did do some wicket-keeping, but mostly spent time closer to the pitch, at Point Slip, or Gully. As a small boy, I spent many hours playing dot cricket. This involves using a pencil and bringing it down with eyes closed onto a piece of paper marked up to indicate runs or wickets.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Drawing the Circle Wider

This imagery comes from an article I read recently and, in rejoicing at the Supreme Court's ruling on marriage equality, it seems most appropriate. There was a time, many years ago, when I thought it funny to imitate the speech of what Arnold Schwarzenegger called "girly men". I remember an Episcopal priest, personally welcoming to gay men, whose explanation for their sexual orientation was that something was "missing" in their personality. I have long been a supporter of LGBT causes. I sometimes do online surveys, and am amazed when one question frequently asked is whether I, personally, know any gay or lesbian person Years ago we used to say "some of my best friends are Jewish", in an attempt to brag about how open-minded and tolerant we were. I can certainly say that,concept truly (but not boastfully) about my many of my friends whose sexual orientation is not mine. I should mention that my complete acceptance of equality has been encouraged by my membership in the Episcopal Church.

Monday, June 29, 2015


At a rough guess, using the word "organic" on a product allows the seller to raise the price by 15% I have just opened a carton of milk with brand name "Organic Valley", whatever that means. If the FDA has any rules about the usage of the word, I'm not aware of it. It sounds sexier than the phrase "No artificial ingredients." I am so turned off by what seems to be a fad that when I'm in a store, and there's an option, I tend to choose the product that is not carrying the "organic" label. I empathize with those who suffer from food allergies, but I am omnivorous, content to trust that the FDA will ban any unsafe edible item.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Encounter: More about the Norwegian Royal Family

I met Princess Astrid again when we were both students at Oxford, and I reminded her of our previous meeting on the HMS Norfolk on her return to Olso. The next occasion was when Barbara and I were in Washington DC for the opening of the national gallery. Crown Princess Sonja arrived without any hoopla, while I waited, expecting a formal announcement of her arrival. Barbara noticed that everyone else was going into the exhibit, and I eventually followed to find Barbara engaged in conversation with the Princess. The lesson for me was that Norwegian Royalty are not like the British, for whom protocol is so important. The most recent occasion was in Colorado, at a gathering which featured the present King's niece, a published author. I remember she was quite charming and informal: this time I recognized the Norwegian simplicity.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


We are, it has been said, two nations divided by a common language. Here are three examples of different meanings in the UK and the US: Notorious: In England this is always pejorative but in the US it it sometimes used for a famous person without any negative implication. Scheme: This word is almost always pejorative in the US, indicating some activity which, although not necessarily criminal, is considered "sneaky" or even sly. In a recent episode of the very successful series Downtown Abbey, Carson, the butler, is surprised that Mrs. Hughes in not invested in some "scheme." He means some formal arrangement for putting savings aside for a future pension. Beaten: In the UK, this referrers to caning or similar forms of corporal punishment. In the US, it covers a wide variety of bodily harm not usually involving blows on the buttocks. In the UK, this wider sense is conveyed by the term "beaten up".

Monday, June 8, 2015

High Tea

This continues to confuse Americans. I have recently seen it once more used to denote an elaborate afternoon tea. For such an occasion, the food provided usually includes cake and other items, in addition to bread and jam. High Tea in the UK is an evening meal for children, usually served at about 5 or 5:30. This includes a simple main course, such as sardines on toast, and is usually anything but fancy. The idea is to feed the young children and then send them to bed, so that the grown-ups can enjoy a leisurely dinner at (say) 7:30 or 8 pm.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Encounter: Tony Richardson (1929-1991)

I knew Tony Richardson when we were both up at Oxford. Even in those days, Tony's life was dedicated to the plays he was directing: How he managed to satisfy his tutor for his academic work, I can hardly imagine. I was doing quite a lot of acting, both for the Oxford University Dramatic Society and the Experimental Theater company. For me it was sidelines, however for Tony it was the start of a distinguished career. My acting roles were typically small, often featuring old men. I enjoyed acting for Tony, whose genius was already apparent.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Encounter: Presiding Bishops

I have known, at least briefly, a succession of the Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishops. I met John Hines when he came to visit All Souls' in Berkeley, where his son (Chris) was serving in his early period of ordained ministry. I heard his successor (John Allin) on several occasions, but never actually met him. Next came Ed Browning whom I did meet, but would not claim that it was a close acquaintanceship. I came to know Frank Griswold quite well, when we were serving on the same panel, and I'll always remember the twinkle in his eye and witty comment when I pontificated on some topic. I was also on friendly terms with his successor Katharine Jefferts Schori. I was delighted when she was first nominated to the office, and since her age and date of birth were matters of public record in Episcopal Church publications, I remember pointing out to her that whether or not she were elected, which we thought quite unlikely at the time, she would have a second opportunity nine years later. She explained in warm response, that she was, in fact, aware of this. In those days, only the bishops voted for the PB, and I didn't think she stood a chance, but the two leading candidates canceled each other out, so I remember the cries of joy when her election was announced. This was at the last General Convention for which I was a Deputy from the Diocese of California, ant the last time I spoke personally with her was at the joyful event when her election was announced. She decided not to seek a second term, and at the time of writing, we do not know what she will do when her successor is appointed later this year (2015).

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Encounter: The Norwegian Royal Family

In 1945, the ship in which I was serving (HMS Norfolk) had the privilege of transporting the Norwegian Royal Family from exile to return to their native land. I tell the full story of this encounter in my memoirs. A few years later, I met Princess Astrid again, when we were both students at Oxford.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Encounter: John Stott (1921-2011)

Before his death, John Stott was the best known Evangelical in the Church of England. For many years, he was the Rector of the "BBC Church" (All Souls, Langham Place, London). I met John in 1940, when I attended the first of many church-related camps, where he was working as today what we would call a Counselor. He was athletic and enthusiastic, while still an undergraduate at Cambridge. On the last evening before we dispersed to our homes, we held a celebratory supper. One of the items of entertainment was a series of rhyming couplets. I only remember one of the specific couplets, which were in the pattern of "A is for angels, who live in the heaven/ I once met a few, but only eleven". The one I remember perfectly goes like this: "N is for November, whose days number thirty/ Like Lindsey-Renton they're short, dark, and dirty".

Monday, May 4, 2015

Encounter: The Lord John Conyngham (1926-1963)

The second highest rank in the British aristocracy is a Marquess. (A woman of equivalent rank, or married to a Marquess in a "Marchioness"). All children of a Marquess or Marchioness are automatically entitled to call themselves "The Lord..." or "The Lady...". John was a naval cadet at Dartmouth, already held back one term, who ended up in my term, graduating in 1944. He was the second son of the Marquess, but his elder brother died, and John inherited his father's title.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Encounter: Herb Caen

Although I never met Her Caen face-to face, the signed photograph he sent me still sits at my desk. As may of you may well know, for many years he was the most successful columnist in newspapers around the Bay Area. Most of his work was for The Chronicle, although he also wrote for a time for the rival Examiner. 

On one occasion, I sent him an item emanating from the East Bay. He asked if there were a San Francisco angle. I replied that although I worked in Oakland, I played in San Francisco. He chortled at that response, although I knew there wasn't much truth to it.

Our last communication began when I reported that I had been withdrawing money from an ATM, and sneezed loudly. A woman waiting for her turn said that I must be "allergic to money." By the time Herb Caen printed the story, he added the perfect response, which I didn't actually make: "No, I just have withdrawal symptoms." 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Encounter: Barbara Boxer

I met the future Senator at a political meeting in San Francisco many years ago. I was impressed by her energy and knowledge.
Barbara has a sister, former professor at San Jose State, published author, whose work includes a treatise on painters in Victorian England. Dr. Paula Gillette and her husband, a retired psychiatrist, remain our good friends, but we never discuss her sister.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Encounter: Sir Simon Rattle

This is a bit of a "stretch" since my seeing Simon Rattle was when he was still a small child. My late first wife (Lola) was a friend of his parents, Denis & Pauline. Denis had been a bandleader at Oxford, and was one of those talented people who can sit at a piano and play almost any tune, and soon have everyone joining in the songs they knew.  Simon clearly inherited his father's musical talent; he was conducting major orchestras in his early twenties

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Encounter: George Hurst

George was a well-known conductor in England until his death a few years ago. He came from a family of Romanian Jews, who had changed their last name to the very English "Hurst". When he came to Port Regis, he impressed us immediately by his facile musical ability. If he heard a tune, he could usually identify it and preform it on the piano. Many years ago, shortly before I left for California in 1957, George stayed with my first wife and me when he came to conduct the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. I remember playing a scrap of music, and asking him if he could identify it. He did so immediately. He spent some time conducting the Bournemouth Light Symphony, and then the BBC Northern Orchestra. What I remember best about George is his modesty even though he had become quite famous in his twenties.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Encounter: Jeremy Thorpe

Jeremy was another friend from University days, who achieved the rare success of being elected as an MP, as a representative of the smallest of the three parties, for Liberals. He became notorious because of a sex scandal. He unsuccessfully sued a newspaper over allegations of sexual impropriety and was forced to resign his leadership position. We were never very close friends, but in the early seventies he came to San Francisco, where Barbara and I entertained him. He had great energy and charm, and I always felt that it was a tragedy that a man of his ability and ambition chosen at an early age to lead his parliamentary party to become the countries first Liberal Prime Minister in many years.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Encounter: Fraser McAllister

Fraser's father was the proprietor of the famous London store Harrods. I knew him at Oxford, where four of us put together what was then a brilliant one-time publication about the university. It was expensively printed on glossy paper, and on the cover were the words "Satire Takes the Lid off Oxford". We enlisted the help of some of our generations best known undergraduate writers, and we sold a lot of copies. Fraser was the editor-in-chief, and our acknowledged leader. I was the business manager: we didn't make a large profit, but we more than broke even, quite an accomplishment for an undergraduate magazine in the early fifties.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Encounter: Jimmy Carter

I preferred to fly into Gatwick years ago, when visiting England. This meant flying into Atlanta and changing planes, but it was worth it to avoid the hassle and frequent delays at Heathrow.
On one return journey, I had taken my seat well before takeoff on the left-hand side of the plane. I noticed the former president shaking hands with the first-class passengers seated on the right-hand of the plane. I moved over to the right side, correctly assuming that this famous glad-hander would continue. Sure enough he did as I had expected, and exchanged a few words of conventional greeting with everyone. Satisfied by the experience, I moved back to my assigned seat on the left side of the plane. Meantime, President Carter had shaken hands with everyone in economy, and there was still time for him to come back from business class into the first-class cabin, there was no way he could remember who he had already greeted, so I enjoyed a second handshake with Jimmy Carter that day.                          

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Encounter: "Dr. Seuss" (Theodore Geisel)

Before Lincoln had its own development officer, it made use of a consultant with the appropriate name of "Howard Raingold". He and I were in touch, and one day he told me that Ted Geisel lived nearby. Howard wanted me to join him to give lunch to the famous author, who had spent some time at Lincoln.
Somehow, Howard was able to obtain a table for us at the Pacific Union Club, a private institution on Nob Hill.
The lunch was pleasant enough, but Ted Geisel told us that he had not enjoyed his time at Lincoln, and that he had no intention of making a donation or bequest to the college. So much for "Dr. Seuss".

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Encounter: David Attenborough

It was probably in 1944 that I met David when we were both taking a shore course at the naval base near Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands. He was an junior RNVR officer, and of course his last name rang a bell with me. It turned out that he was, indeed, the younger brother of the noted film actor Richard Attenborough, who died in 2014. At the time, I just found it interesting to meet the younger brother of a famous actor. I had no inkling that David would soon be attaining his own fame as a broadcaster and naturalist.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Encounter: Ladybird Johnson

In June 1976, my eldest son (Jeremy) graduated from high school, and the two of us celebrated by taking a car trip, which brought us to Yellowstone. We were looking down at a wonderful view from a high point on the trail, when we noticed Ladybird at the same place. She was accompanied by just one male aide, probably a secret service person. This was just four years after the death of LBJ. We had a brief but very pleasant conversation, probably about the beauty of our surroundings, and I remember how friendly and gracious she was.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Encounter 3: David Whitfield

David was born in February 1926, just over a year before I arrived on the scene. I knew him when he was a member of my division when we were both serving in the Royal Navy. The Wikipedia articles says that he entertained his fellow members of the Royal Navy during World War II". He certainly entertained his shipmates when I first met him, but he may not have actually joined the Royal Navy until after the war. We certainly recognized his talent, but it was only recently that I had learned of some of his achievements. He was the first UK male vocalist to earn a Gold Disk for the number of his records that were sold. He was very famous when I saw him next. This was probably in the late fifties, when at my request he very willingly preformed for what was some good cause, which I no longer remember. David died in Sydney, Australia when on tour, in 1980, when he was just fifty-four.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


For the next few weeks, I plan to write short notes about some of the interesting people I have known and spoken to. There will be some famous people, some who influenced me, and a few with "titles". I should not try to put these into datal order, but just as I think of them. 1.When my first wife and I lived in San Francisco, we became members of a babysitting co-op, most of whose members had some connection to the U.C. hospital system. Dianne Fienstein's former husband had been a top doctor at UCSF, and they had a beautiful home on Forest Hill, in San Francisco. I was always happy to leave our own home and spend an evening at "DiFi's" home. She always welcomed me warmly; the daughter never woke up; the furniture was very comfortable; and I could enjoy music from a wide selection of cd's on the sound system there. Meeting the future senator took place sometime before she became Mayor of San Francisco. 2.When my first wife and I moved to Berkeley, we again joined a babysitting co-op. The house where Mario Savio (a principal figure in the free speech movement) lived was quite near our own home. I don't think I have ever seen a home in such a mess. I particularly remember that the refrigerator was sorely in need of defrosting. I was glad that I only had to spend one uncomfortable evening in that house, but it was interesting to meet Mario Savio in person.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Routine generally gets a "bad press". Many people hate the idea of any "routine" in their lives. I feel differently. My belief is that a basis of routine makes it easier to accomplish change. Some family members find it amusing that I have a standard breakfast item for each day of the week. I am not totally wedded to these choices, but I find it helpful that i don't need to wait for an agreement with my wife before starting to prepare my food. She is always welcome to her own choice of breakfast, and sometimes we share an item that is not one of my regular choices, for example, on Tuesday I came down after she was already busy in the kitchen, and I was delighted when I found that she had made huevos rancheros. I simply moved my day for bacon and mushrooms to Thursday, normally a day when I would have a fried egg. My preference for routine goes far beyond food preparation. For example, I usually know what clothes I am going to wear each morning, so I don't waste time wondering what shirt or cardigan I will wear that day. Barbara and I like to watch the PBS News Hour, starting an hour or so before we start preparing dinner. That's on weekdays: on Saturdays and Sundays we watch "Newshour weekend" (actually a half hour program) Yup: in our advanced ages we have become a boring old couple...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


To most of the world, those initials stand for "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria". Others will recall that it is also the name of a major Egyptian goddess. But to the residents of Oxford and too all the University community, the name refers primarily to the stretch of the Thames above Iffley Lock which flows through the university and past Christ Church. It is also the name given to the second Eight, the first Eight being the boat which competes against Cambridge annually. Particularly to Oxonians the use of the word "isis" for the radical Islamist group is an anathema! Fortunately, there is an alternative set of initials for the radical group: ISIL, meaning "The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant". However, I do not expect to convert the media into using that alternative, instead, I believe that before the end of the present century, the traditional meanings of the word will prevail

Monday, January 12, 2015


Like everybody I know, I have my favorite foods, but I'm not fussy about what I eat. Perhaps living through the rationing years of WWII in the U.K. is one factor, but being frugal by nature is probably also relevant. In any case, I can truly say that I eat what is put in front of me. This is certainly helpful to Barbara, who also believes in the saying "Waste not, want not". Another saying is "Happy wife, happy life." Despite my mother's comment to Barbara--"My dear, I don't know how you can stand him"--Barbara & I have been together for over 45 years. I never complain about "leftovers". Admittedly, I may gripe if the same soup appears as the main course for three consecutive dinners. There are, however, days when other folk supply our food. In particular, we have a wonderful neighbor who loves to cook. She was widowed a few years ago, so we are often the beneficiaries of her cuisine. If the dish she brings over contains red meat, I am the one to eat it all. Recently, a family member passed on to us most of a deep-dish pizza, featuring anchovies. Luckily, we had a houseguest who is helping us consume this, so i have only one more evening to finish it. However, I learned last night that the generous neighbor has already brought over a chicken dish, so it will be several days before I can expect to enjoy the fresh fish for which I am hoping...

Monday, January 5, 2015

Should They be Suspended?

In recent months, there have been a number of stories about athletes, mainly if not exclusively male, being charged of domestic violence, drunken driving, or theft, for example. Sometimes these players have remained on the active roster of their team, the rationale being that they are "presumed innocent until found guilty". I think this is missing the point. I believe that suspension or the imposition of a fine is appropriate in most circumstances. Usually there is no doubt about the commission of some infraction of the law or of civilized behavior. Usually, the incident has been blazoned in the press and often in other media. It should not be necessary to await the outcome of a criminal trial before the employer, usually a professional sports team- has determined guilt in a court of law. The time for the management of the team to take action is as soon as possible after the event.