Category Archives: Death, Disease & Drugs

Stuff about being healthy, being sick, being high, and being dead

Somewhat like the art and culture of al-Andalus


Whistleblower Clive Ponting dies

I didn’t realise that Clive Ponting passed away a couple of weeks ago.

Ponting was the high-flying civil servant who leaked information which undermined ministerial claims about the circumstances of the sinking of the Argentinian warship General Belgrano in the prelude to the main act of the Falklands War.

After being unmasked, he was offered a deal in which he confessed and resigned – but was then arrested under the Official Secrets Act and prosecuted, leading to a memorable trial in which the jury disregarded the judge’s directions and acquitted Ponting as a matter of conscience.

I didn’t realise that he had been a Bristol boy, attending the (then directly-maintained but subsequently private) Grammar School in the 1960s (not that the websites of the school or the Old Bristolians acknowledge this.

Like the other prominent 80s leaker whom we studied in my days, Sarah Tisdall (who has her own Bristol connection), he was undone by unique markings on the physical documents he supplied. There’s a warning there for any would-be lamplighters. (Would-be leakers would be wise to discreetly look at the lie of the land with regards their options before doing anything that might be irreversible and personally damaging, whether they intend to go the boring route or take the sensational road.)

I found his writing to be lucid and transparent. His account of his OSA woes, The Right To Know: The Inside Story Of The Belgrano Affair, and its follow up, Whitehall – Tragedy And Farce, were both eminently readable.

Apparently a member of the SDP on the quiet – this I did not know, and a quick look through Crewe & King does not reveal any tasty morsels.

Anyone wishing to find out more about Ponting and the context in which his infamy emerged could do worse than watch through the very first edition of the open-ended, late night discussion programme After Dark. Hosted by Tony Wilson (and featuring among others Northern Ireland psyops whistleblower Colin Wallace), it is nearly three hours of serious-minded talk around heady topics of the day. It is available to watch and download in its entirety on The Dossier.

Wikipediaphile: Margaret Simey

Whatever happened to those well-meaning upper middle class types who were wonted to sticking their oars in for us ‘umble, ‘orny-‘anded toilers who lacked the skills to articulate our own views?

I came across the name of Margaret Simey (1906-2004) whilst reading around about the uprisings of the 80s by way of comparison with those of 2011; it seems she was chair of the Liverpool Police Authority at the time of the 1981 Toxteth riot, and crossed swords with Chief Constable Kenneth Oxford over the scouse cops’ gung ho tactics:

Representing the inner-city Granby Ward, she was well aware of the local tensions which led to the Toxteth Riots; over the preceding decade, use of police powers to stop and search had increased, and the police had recently begun to close nightclubs frequented by black youths. Simey had foreseen that this would cause tension, and had predicted that the closure of one club in particular would lead to a riot. She was correct.

I can’t tell if she fully met the criteria laid out in at the start of this post (though she was a sociology graduate, Labour councillor, magistrate…) – for example, Kirkby Times doesn’t have her down as a tin-shaker – but she certainly sounded like an interesting old cove.

Never forget our dead: Fred Hampton, RIP

Fred Hampton

Born, 30th August 1948

Murdered, 4th December 1969

Assassinated by the State.

Hart broken: Dodgy right-winger David Hart dies on Twelfth Night

You know, that sometime-advisor to Thatcher, freelance strike-breaker, self-appointed guardian of the citadel, playwright, he who bankrolled failed drug dealer Paul Staines, etc, etc, etc…

Anyway, he popped his clogs yesterday. No mention from Guido yet.

‘Left-wing’ Greek journalist and blogger assassinated on doorstep

For anyone who tries to keep abreast of what was happening in Greece, the independent news blog Troktiko (juggled with Google Translate, for us ignorant monolinguists) is a useful resource.

But today a shadow has been cast over Troktiko. Early in the morning Sokratis Giolias, a journalist who wrote for the site, was gunned down by unknown assailants on the doorstep of the home he shared with his wife and young child.

Reports say that twenty or more bullets were fired. New Europe says an anonymous communication to it claimed that three men dressed in police uniforms carried out the killing. A stolen car apparently used in the attack was found burned out not far from the murder scene.

Meanwhile, the trial of the two cops who shot and killed fifteen-year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in December 2008, a killing which precipitated massive social unrest across Greece and led many (both Greeks and non-Greeks) to Troktiko in search of news, is drawing to a close.


Greece-based British blogger Teacher Dude has posted up a brief piece about Socratis Giolias’ murder, and will no doubt be a good place to find English-language material relating to this as more details emerge.


There’s even a report on the BBC News website now.


According to Teacher Dude police have linked the guns used to previous shootings by the Sect of Revolutionaries.

Meanwhile, Occupied London/On The Greek Riots has characterised Giolias as “a tabloid journalist”, and Troktiko as “a popular news blog with ties to the police and far-right groups”.


The Guardian is going with “prominent investigative reporter” and “popular online newsblog Troktiko”; sixteen bullets, in front of pregnant wife; and again reference to police linking it to “domestic terror gang…the Sect of Revolutionaries”.

In contrast to the comments on the On The Greek Riots post, eg:

Giolias was not an “investigative journalist”. In fact, he was not even a journalist (he was not part of the Athens journalists’ union, he did not have a press pass).

Confirmed: Golias was not a member of ESIEA, the Athens Union of Journalists.

…the Guardian story features this:

“His cowardly murder is the work of people who wanted to silence a very good investigative reporter,” said Panos Sobolos, head of the Athens journalists’ union.


The Independent is running with a Reuters-sourced clippings-and-press-release story that refers to “the Rebel Sect”, which makes them sound like a punk revival revue. It recycles the police statement and the Panos Sobolos quotation above.

And comic artist John Hicklenton has died, too…

I’ve just noticed that the comic book artist John Hicklenton is also being reported as having died:

According to several news sites including Forbidden Planet, artist John Hicklenton has passed away. As you may know, especially if you watched the award winning documentary about him Here’s Johnny, he had lived with MS for many years.John Hicklenton came to the notice of 2000 AD readers as the new artist on Nemesis the Warlock during the late eighties. His work was striking, challenging and subversive. As you will see if you look back over The Slog covering that period, I had difficulty adjusting to his style initially. However, his comic strip work improved at a rate that matched my adjustment so that by the end of the eighties he had become one my favourite artists of the expanding 2000 AD line. His Judge Dredd work for The Megazine during the early nineties was both fresh and expressive.

Via Paul Rainey at 2000AD Prog Slog.

I remember John Hicklenton’s work on Nemesis being very different to everything that had come before, and when Paul says it was “striking, challenging and subversive”, he hits the nail dead centre. This was dark, scary artwork that evoked a bleaker world than that of Kev O’ Neill or Bryan Talbot, though always with a hint of humour.

His stint on ‘Third World War’ in Crisis was the first time I got to see him working on a ‘realistic’ strip, rather than fantasy, and he rendered the racist cop in the storyline incredibly well (Angie Mills'(?) colouring boo-boos aside).

He took a similar sensibility with him to Toxic, where he had a run on ‘Fear Teachers’, which never got a chance to be finished, thanks to the comic’s early demise. But again, his bent towards the grotesque – and his propensity for unpleasant, bald, stubbly men – was full of interest, regardless of the script, his skilled style of rich line draughtmanship adapting well to the then up-and-coming trend for painted panels.

Rest in piecework, John!

» Here’s Johnny film website
» Here’s Johnny IMDb page


There’s now a report on John’s death on the BBC News website, confirming that he went to Dignitas, the assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland:

Mr Hinklenton’s agent, Adrian Weston, described him as a “clear-sighted and visionary” person.

…”He was one of the most clear-sighted and visionary people I have ever met.

“Having worked with him was one of the greatest privileges of my professional life.”

He said that Mr Hinklenton completed his last book, 100 Months, the day before he travelled to Zurich.

The MS Trust said: “John was best known for his work on comic 2000AD and for illustrating characters such as Judge Dredd, but he also led a high-profile campaign for better rights for people with MS.

…”The fact that John Hicklenton was prepared to use his fame to raise awareness of a condition so often overlooked by the media, and to wage his personal war on MS so publicly is something that is greatly appreciated by people in the MS community.”

On Chris Hutt – tributes to Bristol cycle champ

I’ve been away from the blog for a while – real life hassles, a bit of a cold, all sorts, really – but now I’m back, and playing catch-up.

As well as wading through all the screengrab nonsense that most of you aren’t in the slightest bit interested in, I’m going to try and get back up to speed with some of the things that have been happening lately in Bristol and on the blogosphere.

First up: Chris Hutt.

Chris Hutt ran the Green Bristol Blog and was a champion of cycling and all things environmental in Bristol. On Saturday he was found dead at his home. He has been paid fulsome tribute both on the interwebs and in the local media:

I never met him, but he was a regular commenter here (as he was everywhere else in the local blogosphere!) and seemed like a genuine sort of fellow, passionate in what he believed and keen to get stuck in. I’m sure the bunfights he started shall continue to rage, even in his absence.

Toodle-pip and watch those junctions!

[Edited to add more links.]

‘For Lambros’ – Bristol commemorates Greek anarchist killed by police

Remembering Lambros Foundas, killed by cops in Athens

Things seem to be heating up around St. Paul’s and Stokes Croft. Yesterday saw a large public gathering to protest against the police-supported eviction of the Jesters social centre, readying it for another Tesco Express; this morning I noticed this graffiti and paint bombing on the side of Decourcy House, the Avon & Somerset Probation Area office on Upper York Street. It memorialises Lambros Foundas, a Greek anarchist shot dead by Athens police last Wednesday. There is an obituary on Act For Freedom Now!

NHS accountancy: like rearranging deckchairs (harmoniously)

Overheard portion of conversation between various NHS ID-wearing people in the Tesco Express near the BRI:

…So we have to check through and calculate how much we’ve spent on feng shui consultants over the year…

Will try and see if there’s an FoI request out there that matches up to that!


Can’t see anything on the What Do They Know? FoI site. Can anybody out there shed some light on this?

Remember Alexandros Grigoropoulos: Killed by Greek police one year ago today

Today is the first anniversary of the killing of fifteen year old Greek boy Alexandros Grigoropoulos at the hands of the police. A series of protests are planned. It’s likely to get very hairy over in Hellas in December.

If you are on Twitter the hashtag #griots seems to be back in use. If you are not, here’s some useful online resources:

  • After The Greek Riots (activist eyewitness blog in English, French, German, Spanish, Turkish, Russian & Polish)
  • Amor Y Resistencia (activist blog based in the Americas, but reported on Greece a lot last December, and might do so again)
  • ClandestinEnglish (English language blog, based in Thessaloniki)
  • Garizo (Greek news aggregator blog, with some posts translated into English)
  • GiaNt (Greek language blog, good for links and pictures)
  • Greek Solidarity Map (mapping demonstrations & occupations across Greece and around the world; seems to have been inactive since last December but might be revived)
  • Katalipsis Xolis Theatrou (Greek language blog from those who occupied the Theatre School in Salonika)
  • LibCom (UK anti-authoritarian site with updates from Greece)
  • Social War In Greece (English language activist blog, translates some of the material coming out; inactive since July but might come back)
  • Teacher Dude’s Grill & BBQ (British teacher & frontline citizen journalist in Thessaloniki)
  • WOMBLES (UK-based anti-authoritarian newswire)

Updated: 6/12/09 @ 2329 GM

This is the dawning of the age of web querulous

Perhaps I’m being unreasonably tetchy, but this just seems mighty wrong.

At 9.40am I tweeted a link to a photo on Street Boners, captioned “Using party balloons for nitrous is like getting a unicorn to talk to teens about breast cancer”.

At 9:41am I received an email notification that CancerInfoHQ was now following me on Twitter.

Headline Of The Day: Star Wars Baddie On Big Brother Goody

Green Cross Code Man/Dying Reality TV

From the Evening Post, naturally.

The ‘story’ continues:

He revealed his illness earlier this week on Absolute Radio in an attempt to raise money for the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.

Speaking from his home in Croydon, Surrey, he said: ”I now know what it’s like to go through this treatment, and I have sympathy for anyone in the same position.

”Jade should be commended for her achievements, and should be thoroughly proud of raising the awareness of cervical cancer.

”She has done more than anyone else in memory to convince women to go for regular tests.”

Married father-of-three Prowse, who stands 6’7” tall, added: ”If I can do the same for prostate cancer in men, then I will be happy.”

Body-builder Prowse was chosen to play the villain in Star Wars in 1976, but because of his West Country accent the character’s lines were spoken by the deep-voiced American actor James Earl Jones.

He told Absolute Radio’s Christian O’Connell that he was making good progress and felt ”fantastic” despite his condition.

He said: ‘I’m undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, would you believe. I’m having my very last treatment this morning.

”I’ve had two months of radiotherapy at the Royal Marsden. It’s the most fantastic hospital. I feel fantastic, no problems whatsoever.”

Jade, 27, spent Sunday with her two sons Freddie, four, and Bobby Jack, five, her mum Jackiey (corr) Budden, 50, and her 21-year-old hubby Jack Tweed.

She has already made full arrangements for her funeral, which she hopes will be a ‘celebration’ of her life.

Jackiey said: ”It’s not day by day now. It’s more like hour by hour.”

Leaving the sub’s note on spelling in there is a nice touch, adds that gritty realism that the story demands.

The poetry of vultures

The poetry of vultures

I spotted this yesterday on my NetNewsWireLite blogreader. I was particularly impressed by the tags.

Just say no to GHB, kids!

Carl on Facebook

This made me proper LOL when I saw it on Facebook…

In case you didn’t know it, Carl Williams is currently serving life with a minimum tariff of 35 years for a series of murders connected to the ecstasy and amphetamine trade in Melbourne…