Tim Brighouse is dead.

by Harry on December 23, 2023

Well, you know that, thanks to Maria’s lovely post earlier this week. I’ll post a long, maybe self-indulgent, remembrance in a week or two (I’ve been overwhelmed by things this week, including the kind of staggering outpouring of affection ad memories on social media, in my inbox (Among the many messages came a lovely email from a headteacher my own age I last saw in 1970, and whom dad, of course, kept up with). Even the Daily Telegraph did a rather good obituary. Now I have to finish my grading by tomorrow, and get ready for Christmas, which dad loved, and I think we’ll all enjoy remembering him). But for now, if you’re interested, here are three things to read/listen to/watch.

The formal, detailed, Guardian obituary is here.

The Radio 4 obituary show, Last Word, is here. David Blunkett is excellent, the clips of my dad sound unnervingly young, and I liked that they took the parts from the interview with me that are about my dad’s appearance. He would have been genuinely horrified by all this fuss, but, bracketing that, he’d have been delighted by the first segment, about Maureen Sweeney, to whom he would have been intensely grateful (as we all should be).

Finally Rachel Johnson of PiXL, whose dad Sir John Rowling worked with Tim at the London Challenge, wrote a lovely tribute, which includes an extended video interview (half way down the page) that she just made available free, here.

The chap serving me at Pret in Heathrow the other day asked if I was going somewhere special for Christmas, and for the second time since Tim died I faltered, and said “I’m going home to Wisconsin, I’ve just been visiting because my dad died on Friday”, and berated myself inside for making him uncomfortable. But he smiled, and said, you know the usual things, and then said “Did he have a good life?” and I found myself grinning widely and said “Yes. He had a great life”, to which his response was “That’s really the best you can ask, isn’t it?”. It was lovely, like something out of the kind of movie that neither my dad nor I would ever willingly watch.



Russell Arben Fox 12.24.23 at 4:31 pm

“Did he have a good life?”
“Yes. He had a great life.”
“That’s really the best you can ask, isn’t it?”

Thank you for sharing that, Harry. God bless you and your whole family this Christmastime, and always.


Ray V. 12.24.23 at 9:15 pm

He had a good life in both senses it sounds—he did good things, and he was a good person and he also had a satisfying life. It’s so great when those two kinds of good life come together in one life, and I hope I am right that it did.

My favorite thing from the BBC obit show is that your father hated school! Although I am sorry he was tormented as a child in school, how wonderful that he turned this into a life of making school better for all other children. Wonderful and beautiful. And he also understood that you succeed if you do this through the teachers. Lord, what some people still have to learn from your father.

It says so much about him how you carry on his legacy. He suffered in school as a child, made children’s education better for them, so that it turned into something good, and lasting through the change in the schools and through you. Isn’t that transmission to others to improve things for the next generations what we’re all supposed to do, and what we hope to do (though it is easy to forget this)?

In all this grim news lately, and recent obituaries about sketchy people like Kissinger who shaped the world in the worst way, I am so happy to read about somebody who left a noticeable mark that is of lasting benefit to children and society.

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