Peter Ustinov and Alistair Cooke

To be honest, lumping together these two people doesn’t do much service to either of them, but this weblog isn’t an obituary column. I just mention the deaths of people I respected for one reason or another.
Alistair Cooke, who’s death was announced this morning, always struck me of something of a curmudgeon. But he was undoubtedly a radio legend, who only retired from his weekly letters a month or so ago. The long standing nature of his weekly reports is as much reason as any that we admire him. He did his own thing, and didn’t find it necessary to follow the crowd. Radio 4 had an hour special this evening, which I missed, but I’ll listen out to the repeat in the Archive Hour slot this Saturday.
Peter Ustinov was, to my mind, the very definition of a raconteur. An actor and writer, he was in his element on a chat show. And he had a voice to die for. He almost certainly wasn’t as good as David Suchet on television as Poirot, but the films he made still stand up enormously well. But the one thing I’ll always remember, was a book of the week he read on Radio 4 some years ago, Rifleman and Hussar by Sir Percival Marling. I heard it one holiday, and it’s one of those books you have a look for on the internet every so often. In fact I’ve just had a hunt around for it now, and the only place that has a live link, it seems, is the University of Stellensboch library in South Africa. It’s one of those titles that pops up in military bookshops every so often, but you need to keep your wits about you to get a copy.