Oh, arse!

BBC: Author and playwright Gray dies

English playwright and diarist Simon Gray has died aged 71.

The author penned more than 30 plays for stage and TV, including Butley, Quartermaine's Terms, Melon and The Common Pursuit, as well as five novels.

Gray recently gained in notoriety for his series of witty memoirs, The Smoking Diaries and The Last Cigarette.

I can't speak about his plays, but Gray's three volumes of diaries (The Smoking Diaries, The Year of the Jouncer, and The Last Cigarette) are modern masterpieces in the genre: moving and, at the same time, laugh-out-loud funny. Gray developed a unique voice in his diaries. It's sad to think there will be no more.

Postscript: Oh, according to the Guardian's obituary, there will soon be a final volume about the last few months of Gray's life.

Dearth of deaths

I've just realised that it has been almost two months since I added anyone to my list of toasts for 2007. Have I had my head buried in the sand, or has nobody worth toasting died recently?

Phil Collins

A major celebrity recently.

I just checked out the deaths for June 2007 on Wikipedia, and the only one I'd heard of was Bernard Manning—which rather proves my point.

I'm not actually wishing anyone any ill-will, you understand, but it seems to me that a major celebrity death is long overdue.

Remember, you heard it here first.

Lothar-Günther Buchheim (1918–2007)

BBC: Author of war novel Das Boot dies

The German author of the World War II novel Das Boot, made into an Oscar-nominated film, has died of heart failure at the age of 89.

Lothar-Guenther [sic] Buchheim was also an art collector and set up the Museum der Phantasie (Museum of the Imagination) in Bernried, Bavaria, in 2001.

If you've never seen Das Boot, do yourself a favour and buy the director's cut (or, better still, the uncut mini series) on DVD right away and watch it in a single sitting in the original German with subtitles. It is, in my humble opinion, the best film ever made—coming second only to The Blues Brothers as my all-time desert island choice.

The novel is damn excellent too (thanks for that, Stense).

Seriously, I can't recommend Das Boot highly enough. Go and buy it!

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