Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘St Bride’s’

David Walter’s Thanksgiving Service

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 27th June, 2012

The breadth and depth of friendship and affection for the late broadcaster and Liberal Democrat activist David Walter was on view this afternoon when St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, was packed by family, friends and former colleagues, remembering one of the kindest and most intelligent of men (a rare combination). So many people came that the berobed ushers spent much of the first 20 minutes on tiptoes bringing in extra chairs. The service itself was a charming balance of religious and secular, reverent and irreverent, in keeping with David’s character. Traditional hymns such as ‘Come Down, O Love Divine’ and ‘Praise, My Soul, The King of Heaven’ shared the bill with Ralph Vaughan Williams’s ‘The Turtle Dove’ and the tongue-twisting Gilbert and Sullivan ‘I Am The Very Model of a Modern Major General’. The justly renowned St Bride’s choir did us all proud; Bainton’s ‘And I saw a New Heaven’ was indeed heavenly. Patrick Worsnip gamely read, in ancient Greek, ‘The Playmaker’ from Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, in recognition of David’s classical erudition, while David’s daughter Natalie joined fellow Royal Shakespeare Company actors Kathryn Drysdale and Mark Hadfield in a spirited extract from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There were three addresses, the first fittingly by David’s son Pete, who spoke of the night he had spent with his father in hospital near the end, during which he had learnt many things about David he never knew. Sir Trevor Macdonald concentrated on David’s professional integrity, his modesty and the extraordinary fact within the broadcasting profession that David never had an unkind word to say about anyone. Finally, (Baroness) Susan Kramer spoke of the way that David had touched various Liberal Democrat politicians’ lives. When she choked slightly towards the end, we all choked with her. But Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ — the anthem of the European cause that was so dear to David’s heart — lifted our spirits and prepared us for the merry wake round the corner at the Press House Wine Bar.

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In Memoriam Anna Politkovskaya

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 7th October, 2009

Anna PolitkovskayaShe was deeply committed to Truth. Following in the fine tradition of Quakers and other Christian radicals, she believed in Speaking Truth to Power.  Anna Politkovskaya was indeed a Christian, as Lord (Frank) Judd emphasised in his tribute today at the thanksgiving service at St. Bride’s, Fleet Street, for the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, but above all else she was a campaigning reporter. What more fitting place  in London to celebrate her life, on the third anniversary of her assassination by persons unknown, than the journalists’ church? There was sublime music for violin and piano byRachmaninoff and Prokofiev, as well as Anglican  hymns and renderings of both English and Russian choral music by St Bride’s exquisite singers (surely one of the best choirs in London). Elena Cook, who often acted as Politkovskaya’s interpreter, and Christopher MacLehose, her original English-language publisher, both gave addresses. I never met Anna, but like many people working in Bush House for the BBC World Service in the 1990s, I felt I knew her intimately, as she filed her press reports about extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuse in Chechnya. During the last few months of her life, I sometimes felt physically sick, as she stuck her neck out, probing into places the Kremlin and others wanted left dark, and I thought, ‘They will kill her!’ As indeed, they did.

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