When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

30 December 2007

Hugh Massingberd, R.I.P.

The man who essentially reinvented the obituary in English newspaper journalism has died a young, untimely death; Hugh Massingberd of the Daily Telegraph passed away on Christmas Day, aged 60.

His fellow obituarists around the world, not just at his home paper, have pulled out all the stops:
Everyone has a favorite story. The New York Times, for one, felt obliged to educate its American readers:

To dispatch his subjects, Mr. Massingberd used the thinnest of rapiers, but also the sharpest. Cataclysmic understatement and carefully coded euphemism were the stylistic hallmarks of his page. Here, for the benefit of American readers, is an abridged Massingberd-English dictionary:

¶“Convivial”: Habitually drunk.

¶“Did not suffer fools gladly”: Monstrously foul-tempered.

¶“Gave colorful accounts of his exploits”: A liar.

¶“A man of simple tastes”: A complete vulgarian.

¶“A powerful negotiator”: A bully.

¶“Relished the cadences of the English language”: An incorrigible windbag.

¶“Relished physical contact”: A sadist.

¶“An uncompromisingly direct ladies’ man”: A flasher.

He will be missed.

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