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January 2019: Get Fit on the North York Moors

January is the traditional month for regretting the excesses of December and promising yourself – and others – that this year you are definitely going ...More
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Patrick Moore

The overused title ‘national treasure’ for once really applied in the case of Sir Patrick Moore, the amateur astronomer, moon-mapper and populariser of science who has just died. In him were encapsulated several of our most cherished characteristics: he was eccentric, playing the xylophone, a cricketer until his seventies and sporting a monocle; a gentleman amateur whose work annoyed a few academics but inspired untold thousands of youngsters (and was used by NASA); all who knew him acknowledged the man as generous and fun-loving; and he was enormously enthusiastic, his machine-gun delivery much mimicked. Add to that his war heroism – joining the wartime RAF by lying about his age and bypassing the physical that he’d have failed – and the phrase rounded figure fits perfectly (especially as in later life he was decidedly rotund). We can even pardon him his rather un-PC pronouncements of more recent days, and given the loss of his fiancée to a Nazi bomb we understand his unwillingness to forgive the German nation. His presence on The Sky at Night – missing just one edition from May 1957 until his December 2012 death – was a little bulwark of British civilisation that will be hard, maybe impossible, to replace.

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Brit Quote:
I don't need you to remind me of my age. I have a bladder to do that for me. - Stephen Fry
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On this day:
The assassination of James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray - 1570, The Royal Exchange opens in London. - 1571, Battle of Rorkes Drift - 1879, The Tottenham Outrage - 1909, First Labour Government - 1924
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