Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Frances and the last trump


LAST November in Louisville, Kentucky, 87-year-old Frances Williams ‘passed away peacefully at home’. For someone of that grand old age, death by natural causes is nothing out of the ordinary; more unusual is the claim that heart and lung failure was precipitated by the deceased’s loathing of Donald Trump.

US doctors who certify end-of-life do not yet write ‘Death by Donald’ or ‘Terminated by Trump’, though probably it is only a matter of time before they begin doing so. Nonetheless, according to the family of the late Mrs Williams: ‘Her passing was hastened by her continued frustration with the Trump Administration.’

Despite lacking medical expertise, daughter Cathy Duff had included that sentence in the obituary she submitted to the local newspaper of Mrs Williams: during her final months, the ‘passionate Democrat’  apparently had complained that Trump occupying the White House was ‘contributing to her decline’.

The Louisville Courier-Journal rejected the ‘negative content within the obituary text’ and the memoriam originally appeared in edited form. However, following the funeral the deceased’s son, Art Williams, complained on social media that he remained ‘dumbfounded, surprised, but most of all disappointed and aghast that a once historically courageous American newspaper . . . would so trivially move to abate the free speech that it seems, when convenient, to hypocritically champion’.

A modest number of supportive comments was, naturally, sufficient for the Courier-Journal’s editor, Richard Green, to repent on behalf of his newspaper: ‘Mrs. Williams’ obituary should have published as it was presented to our obits team and as requested by the family . . . In this political climate we now find ourselves, partisanship should have no role in deciding what gets included in an obituary that captures a loved one’s life . . . We send the family our deepest condolences and apologies.’

The paper has now published, for three days, the unexpurgated obituary. Identified in it as someone who ‘did not suffer fools gladly’, Mrs Williams had decreed that her memorial service had a dress code of ‘no blue jeans, shorts, flip-flops or tennis shoes’ – the implication being that without her having given such an order, slovenly mourners were liable to turn up so attired. It is not reported whether the fervent anti-Trumper also specifically proscribed pussy hats.

Coinciding with that story of the deceased 87-year-old Trumpaphobe, here in the UK Polly Toynbee used her Guardian column to mark ‘the day, in theory, when the country turns remain . . . enough old Leavers will have died and enough young Remainers will have come on to the electoral register to turn the dial on what the country thinks about Brexit’.


Patronising Polly (72) will no doubt claim simply to have been the conduit for the demographic calculations made by Leftist journalist-turned-pollster Peter Kellner (also 72), the poor man’s John Curtice. But anyone familiar with toffee-nosed Toynbee (still 72) can readily imagine the ghoulish glee with which she wrote: ‘The true “will of the people” looks considerably more questionable if it turns out to be the will of dead people – not the will of those who have the most life ahead of them to face the consequences.’

Kellner – husband of Baroness Ashton, the Labour peer and former trougher at the European Commission – is a metropolitan Leftie whom one suspects of having little everyday contact with Leavers other than to assess the rate of their demise. He calculates that since the referendum the Grim Reaper has reduced our number by around 1,350 per day. If Kellner is correct, since June 2016 that is well over one million Leave voters whose obituaries could, like that of Frances Williams, have included: ‘His/Her passing was hastened by continued frustration . . .’

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Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver is an accountant who lives in East Lothian.

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