December 20, 2013

Telegraph readers' obituaries of the year

A roster of the worthy dead by Harry de Quetteville, The Telegraph's Obituary Editor

Well, as expected, celebs and actors (Michael Winner, Richard Griffiths, Nigel Davenport and Lewis Collins) were strongly represented. But they did not do as well as royals (HRH Princess Lilian of Sweden and HRH Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau). And more popular still were heroes and soldiers like Flight Lieutenant Tony Snell (who achieved the small distinction of escaping a German firing squad) and Mavis Batey.

It was my immense pleasure, however, to discover that our 2013 most-read chart was not exclusively filled by such eminent and worthy figures. For on it also figured Pamela Jennings, “who has died aged 48, and was known in her central London stamping ground as 'Soho Pam'; a professional beggar, she nightly brought her considerable powers of persuasion to the clientele of such establishments as The French House and the Coach & Horses.”

And at the very top of the pile, most popular by click of you, was Peter Scott, who was “a highly accomplished cat burglar, and as Britain’s most prolific plunderer of the great and good took particular pains to select his victims from the ranks of aristocrats, film stars and even royalty”.

Ah well, dear reader. All is forgiven. For this is, frankly, hugely reassuring. My faith is restored. Telegraph obits have always been about celebrating irreverence as much as much as achievement, about toasting idiosyncrasy as much as aristocracy (though it’s true the two do frequently go together). And you seem to agree.

Of course, as Fred Sanger goes to show, such rankings have nothing whatsoever to do with personal merit. But who cares? If you continue to lap up the odd cat burglar I hope you won’t mind if we continue to run the odd double Nobel Prize winner. There really aren’t very many.
Posted by Jill Fallon at December 20, 2013 8:04 PM | Permalink