Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Monday 10 December 2012

Sir Patrick Moore

The death yesterday of Sir Patrick Moore removes a familiar figure from the British televison and indeed national scene. The obituary from the Daily Telegraph can be read here.

My reason for noting it is taht I did meet him on on eoccasion. It was, I think, the autumn on 1974 and he had been invited to speak at the annual dinner of Pontefract Civic Trust. I think I can claim with my mother credit for the idea. having seen him present an edition of the Sky at Night about the Birr (or Parsonstown) telescope of the fourth Earl of Rosse in Ireland in the nineteenth century. He clearly knw the then Earl and his Countess, who happened to be the President of the Pontefract Civic Trust - and was herslf a doughty campaigner on conservation matters. Their Yorkshire home was a few miles from Pontefract.

When Patrick Moore came it fell to the Vice-Chairman to entertain him to lunch and I joine dthem asa prelude to showing our guest around the town. He was as large a personality, indeed more so, than he appeared on television - physically dominating the room and with a wide range of views on matters of the day. We took him round the town centre afterwards where he surprised a tobacconist and some shoppers by dashing in to buy supplies for his pipe.

At the dinner in the evening he spoke and we invited along the local Astronomy Society to meet him, and they were delighted to be photographed with him and to get his autograph.

I remeber it as a happy and enjoyable day with someone who lived up to the expectations of his image. The impression of a clever man, but also a humane and decent one, with an infectious enthusiasm was borne out in an actual meeting with him.

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