"Will be sorely missed...." How often do we hear that polite cliché about public figures when actually we are rather glad to see the back of them?
Not Patrick Moore. He really will be missed. What a marvellous Englishman and what a marvellous character. For years of my childhood he broadcast The Sky At Night and was renowned for talking faster than anybody else on television. The reason was simply that the BBC gave him such a short slot and he was determined to fit the maximum amount of information into it. This was easy to burlesque and he was great parody material - please nobody mention Uranus - but still he genuinely fascinated millions with his astronomical lore. The planets, the stars, the constellations, the comets, the galaxies, the Moon which nobody then had yet set foot on, and even the moons of other planets... he packed incredible amounts of knowledge into his programme and incredible amounts of enthusiasm for his subject too.
Patrick was a great patriot and lied about his age and his health to get into the RAF in Word War II. As a navigator in a bomber crew, he took huge risks and was lucky to get through alive. His fiancée didn't. She was killed in an air raid and he never forgot her.
A few years ago I heard Sir Patrick speak live at a UKIP meeting. He was a loyal, active member of the party from its earliest days, and had no time for any politician who wanted to throw away what so many brave people of his generation had fought and died for - our national sovereignty. He was never taken in by the soft soap and the sugary promises of the political class. What a redoubtable man and if only there were more like him in the younger generation...