Dying is not at the top of my list of current priorities. It’s lurking out there, all right, and death could come in a wide variety of ways, many of which are extremely unpleasant. I hope when my time comes, it’s not unlike the passing of Cliff Michelmore. Another fabulous broadcaster, one of the best of my lifetime, has died aged 96. I am certainly not a fabulous broadcaster, by the way!
I just heard an interview with his son Guy, also a broadcaster. Guy spoke beautifully, painting his father as the man I always imagined he would be. A lovely, kind family man who just so happened to be one of the great broadcasters of all time.
His was the BBC voice when the damaged Apollo 13 returned to earth in 1970, his was the BBC face at Aberfan in 1966 when a slag heap collapsed onto a junior school killing 116 children and 28 adults. And from 1969 to 1985 he presented the BBC ‘Holiday’ programme during the period when holidays abroad became a reality for ordinary working people.
I had not thought about Michelmore for many years, so to hear today he had died was yet another moment of sadness, a voice of my youth departed, but his son made me smile. Only yesterday, Michelmore had been discussing current events with his family. He was still “as sharp as a tack”.
Sometimes, the world around me feels very sad. So many people die far too young, some die in pain and others die in the most distressing circumstances. I never want to die, but unfortunately I can’t avoid the inevitable. I certainly won’t get to choose the time or type of my passing, but if I could, it would be something like Michelmore’s, deep into old age, surrounded by family, with my faculties largely intact and respected by my peers (the last bit could be tricky).
I’m fed up with hearing the words “the world has lost another” because it means someone much loved and often talented has departed.
Thanks for the memories, Cliff. You were one of the best and I am glad you made it safely to old age. But that we all could.