Wednesday, 21 December 2016


My obituary of Henry Heimlich, inventor of the eponymous manoeuvre to deal with choking, is up at the Guardian online, you can link to it here. It is pretty much as filed; the biggest cut was some information about his wife Jane. I found it fascinating that she wrote a book called Things Your Doctor Won't Tell You, and co-authored another about Homeopathy. Given Heimlich's sometime shaky status with the medical establishment, that seemed somehow telling. I'm not sure the ubiquitous nature of her father, Arthur Murray, and his self-promoting dance empire, would be clear in Britain; I debated trying to make a connection with his son-in-law and his self-promotion, and later learned (but from only one source) that Arthur Murray  Heimlich's medical school.  But the connection seemed interesting, particularly in light of all the celebrity endorsements his technique received in its early days (including New York mayor Ed Koch, see photo).

They also cut my mention that Heimlich's father moved to New Rochelle to work as a prison social-worker, which also seemed interesting to me: those two influences seemed to combine to define his own personality. And the antipathy shown by his son Peter, whose campaign against his father was virulent and lasted for decades, is something worth its own story, if not novel.

Monday, 19 December 2016


You may have noticed a lack of posts in the month of December. I wish I could say it's because I have been too busy, but really it is because I have again come to question the utility of this blog. Partly because I am encouraged by writing I have done elsewhere, in commercial markets, and partly because Blogger, which is a free tool and thus much appreciated, has for some reason decided to simplify its controls, and in the process of this simplification managed to mangle this blogs logo (I did not intend the title of the blog to be laid out as an e.e.cummings rough draft) and lose two of the sidebar 'gadgets': the Bullseyes list of 'greatest hits' and the list of links to other blogs and websites. Having failed to recapture them, I tried to re-enter those gadgets, and though they sit on the formatted template, blogger refuses steadfastly to publish the new layout.

This should not be as discouraging to me as it has been, and I may well start a Christmas push to help clear the backlog of pieces I have, in most cases, started but then abandoned. Anyone who can suggest a viable alternative to make this blog look at least as good as it did, or a way of expanding its reach would be more than welcomed. In the meantime, a New Year's resolution seems in the offing....