Tuesday 17 March 2015

Farewell @CaptainRanty

I was just heading out last night when the very sad news appeared on Twitter that fellow blogger and friend Captain Ranty has passed away. 

I'd known him for a couple of years when he started his blog in April 2009 and was in no doubt it would be a success due to the quality of his writing, as I described during his early days.
He writes superb stuff, and (shhh, secret) I knew this before he started blogging. In fact, I knew it before I started this blog, which is why the moment he began writing in earnest, he was instantly added to my blogroll. I didn't need to know what he would be writing about as I didn't care. His pedigree was unquestionable, his prose a dream, and boy has he delivered in spades.
As a result of this, the Cap'n's comments sections were always lively and he rattled up large visitor numbers and some 2,800 Twitter followers in very short order.

His overall content was starkly different from here but always opinionated (as a blog should be), blunt, brutally honest, and often very personal, especially recently. However, being a staunch libertarian and a smoker, there were regular posts which would chime with those of you who read my tabloid stuff. So, in memory of the Captain, below I've reproduced one of his from 2010 which I think you'll enjoy revisiting.
File this tale under "Random". It doesn't fit anywhere else. 
Those with excellent visualisation skills should go no further than this. Really. 
About six years ago I was returning to the UK from somewhere in the US. I forget exactly which airport I was at but I have narrowed it down to two: Charlotte in North Carolina, or Dulles in Washington D.C. It isn't important. 
Anyway, I had a few hours to kill as the flight had been delayed. I wandered around until I found a bar that allowed smoking. The one I found was situated like a high street pub, with pavement seats & tables, only indoors. You could sit at a table but watch the passengers go by on the main concourse. 
I was chugging away, and chuffing away, when I saw the three largest humans in the history of humans thundering slowly towards me. Daddy Bear was a good 35 stone, Baby Bear in the middle was perhaps 20 stone, and Mummy Bear was the biggest of all. God alone knows how much she weighed but she was massive. All that fat in motion was vaguely hypnotic. And I don't mind admitting that as I smoked and drank, I watched them lumbering my way. 
Daddy was wearing some sort of mou-mou, Baby was wearing a track suit, and Mummy had on some beige crimpolene pants with those sewn in creases, and a ginormous tee-shirt. For some reason that escapes me, all were advertising the manufacturer of the clothing they wore. I couldn't see Dads, but Baby's apparel was made by Adidas, and Mums was made by Omar the Tentmaker. 
On they came. In step. Flat-footed. In no hurry. 
As they draw near, they all swivel giant heads above many, many chins, to glower at me. I take a drag of my smoke, exhale, and chase it with a swig of my beer. 
As they draw level, Mummy Bear sneers at me, pure hatred in her piggy eyes, waves a hand in front of her piggy nose, and says, "Disssgusssting!". 
I was a little surprised. Shocked even. 
They passed me and it was my turn to swivel and stare. I wish I hadn't. I am now the permanent owner of a sight that I cannot cleanse my mind, or my memory banks of. 
As I turned, my eyes were drawn, immediately, to the seat of Mummy Bears beige pants. 
She had shit herself. At some point during the day she had shit herself. And was unaware. The stain was the size of a dinner plate, but it had also tracked down her left leg and stained the pants there as well. 
I have seen some sights in my time. Deaths, disfigurement and deformities that defy reason or any godly compassion. 
But I have rarely seen anything as foul as a ridiculously fat woman who had shit herself and didn't know it, or didn't care. But was narrow-minded enough to call a complete stranger disgusting. For smoking a cigarette. 
Some nights, what worries me even more is that Daddy or Baby knew but didn't tell her. But still opted to wobble alongside her. In a public place. 
I haven't told anyone else on the face of the earth that story. I was half-hoping it would just go away. It didn't. I hope that by sharing we can now all collectively delete the image from our minds. 
A problem shared is a problem halved, right? 
Thank you, friends. This unburdening has helped me. 
It helped me a lot.
RIP Colin, you're already missed.


Mr Angry said...

Poor CR. Will miss his posts. God rest his soul and may be be smoking away wherever he is now........

Lynne Allcock said...

How funny was my brother, made me laugh thanks x rip Colin

Dick_Puddlecote said...

He often had that effect on many of us too, Lynne. :)

My sincere condolences to you and the rest of the family.

emma2000 said...

I was very sorry to read about this, I know he was having a bad time and his last email on March 2nd did worry me. I thought he was visiting Scotland so didn't worry when I didn't get a reply. Still can't believe it, my condolences to the family, he said how much he loved his sisters.

westcoast2 said...

rip Colin.

Legiron said...

I remember that story well. The image he created in my head is still there.

RIP Colin, the ranting will go on.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

A similar story to follow up is also well worth a read.


Dick_Puddlecote said...

Indeed. Perhaps like he described of his experiences in Africa ...

"As much as I look forward to seeing my clan again, there are some things I will miss about both Nigeria and Ghana. Cheap beer, cheap fags, cheap food, and cheerful people. Being able to smoke in a bar. If you are a non-smoker you have no idea just how wonderful, and how liberating such a simple thing actually is. I felt normal. No-one was doing that wanky hand-waving and false-coughing so prevalent amongst the UK Righteous."

... and in the Czech Republic.

"The above is a snapshot taken last night in a bar in the freedom loving Czech Republic. No-one did that false coughing or the inane hand-waving, no-one looked at me sideways, no-one tutted, and there were no cameras to record my sinful ways. The hotel, just like the dozen bars I frequented this week, had good air management systems and when it was dry in the evenings, it was a pleasure (and MY choice) to sit outside the bar and smoke.

I try to explain to non-smokers (not anti-smokers, there is a huge difference between the two) that their freedoms were curtailed as well as ours. They lost the freedom to decide for themselves whether or not it was life-threatening to enter a bar that allowed smoking."

Lynne Allcock said...

Thank you X we love him so much xx

Lynne Allcock said...

Thanks x

nisakiman said...

Yes, I too remember that post of his. It was typical of his irreverent and crystal clear view of life around him. What a bloody shame. He was one of the good guys, and they are few and far between. I for one will miss him and his singularly perspicacious rants. I raise a glass to your memory, CR.

Dioclese said...

Shit! I didn't know. Colin was alright. We exchanged several emails off blogs and got along just fine. Read his stuff regularly as he did mine. Bit of a kindred spirit.

What the hell happened to him?!?

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Unknown, but the family have confirmed on social media. IMO admirable that Twitter followers have not delved further, it's a family matter. :)

Dioclese said...

Thanks for that. Sympathies obviously to the family. I shall write a suitable personal tribute to the man which I shall publish over at mine in the morning.

I am genuinely upset.

Katabasis said...

Ranty's going to be someone I will miss every day for the rest of my life. :*(

BrianB said...

I best remember Colin from his days as Chair of Freedom2Choose (no secret now, I presume). His musings were a regular, and welcome feature on the home page of the F2C website.

He wrote with passion, and authority, and never felt restrained by the need to avoid offending those who deserved to be offended. No rhetorical somersaults in the cause of political correctness for Colin. Oh no, any anti-smoking body that crossed his path could expect the verbal equivalent of a sledgehammer in the face! He gave a lot of hope, to the folks at F2C, and raised their spirits when there was much going on to make them feel very low. His metamorphosis into Captain Ranty was F2C's loss.

I communicated with him many times, via phone and email, but I never got to meet him. I am saddened that I will never now get the chance to have that oft-promised overnight session of beer and fags - and howling at the moon.

A genuinely lovely bloke, gone too soon, and will be sorely missed.

RIP friend.

emma2000 said...

Just raising a glass of red wine and enjoying a cigarette in memory of Colin. I loved his writing and we got on well off blog, he sent a good picture and I will save that to remember him.

Jax said...

Wow. What a shocker. I’m slightly surprised at quite how deeply saddened I am to hear this; after all, I never met the Captain or even – until now – knew his real name. But, as for many others, I suspect, he was a bright light in a dull, often (for smokers) hostile world. It’s perhaps a reflection of a society that, for smokers, has become increasingly unfriendly over the past couple of decades, that the loss of a smoker-member of the blogosphere, particularly one who writes so well and voices many of our own thoughts and feelings more articulately than we ourselves can, touches us as deeply as, in earlier years, the loss of one of our well-known pub-regular friends would have done. Sad news indeed. RIP Cap’n.

Flaxen Saxon said...

Sad to hear the news. I was a late comer to his blog but always enjoyed his mixture, good humour and humanity. At last he has found peace- he seemed to have precious little in this life.

Zaphod said...

CR had a major influence on my life. And many others', clearly. A real inspiration. I'll mourn very briefly, and then celebrate him.
Bravo, Captain.

Jay said...

I hadn't realised that Cap'n Ranty was Colin, for whom I'd immense respect as Chair of F2C (and often wondered why he'd just seemed to disappear from our online community). He was someone I would've expected to thoroughly like if I'd ever met him.

I'm very sorry to hear of his death.

Twisted Root said...

Condolences to family. He will be missed by all who enjoyed his glorious writing style; angry, ranty and genuinely funny, reflecting a mile wide generosity of spirit.

ScottWichall said...

Sincerest condolences Lynne, I always loved reading his blog posts. Sad times :-(

Mrs Raft said...

My condolences to the family.

Captain Ranty was particularly
kind in that when I pestered him for pictures of lizards and traveller's
tales from exotic places, he always trotted out with his camera to
satisfy my curiousity and to bring me a slice of a far-away world.

also found his determined challenging of constitutional law to be
refreshing and plausible. Part of the joy was seeing conventional
lawyers go in to a tizzy when their conceptual underpinnings were
challenged. It was practical political philosophy done with a flair and rare energy.

The world was a richer place for him being in it and I will miss his writing dreadfully.

BrianB said...

I had no inside knowledge either, Jay. It was when I first started reading the Captain Ranty blog, that I began to notice the familarity in writing style.

The final clincher was when CR put down a troll with a line that I had seen a few times before on F2C. He said "Why don't you fuck off? And when you get there, fuck off again!"

Hard, yet funny: Classic Colin Grainger!

RichardMitton said...

Although we didn't know each other in the Royal Corps Signals, I consider him one of the best men I never met in real life. Just wish I had. RIP Cap, will miss you and never forget you.

Lynne Allcock said...

Ha ha that was my brother all over x

Lynne Allcock said...

Thank you, I have now read them all some good some funny and some god dam awful !!!!

Lynne Allcock said...

He will appreciate that thank you x

Bill said...

a long time friend of the cyber variety...shared many a comment thread since he started his blog...never knew his name...names don't matter to true friends...see you in the other side..."now go and poke some guests"

Chalcedon said...

Oh no! One of my regular reads. RIP Captain Ranty. You will be missed.

Lysistrata Eleftheria said...

Lynne, very sorry indeed to hear of Colin's death, and
we are thinking of you and his family. I'm the Committee Secretary of Freedom2Choose, and we would like to send
either a floral tribute or a donation to an organisation of the family's choosing in honour of and with deep affection for Colin.

Could you email me privately at carol@freedom2choose.info to discuss what would be preferred and where we would send something? Once again, we are deeply saddened, but remember Colin with great joy.

DaveAtherton20 said...

Lynne I had no idea you were his brother. My private email address is daveatherton20@hotmail.com What a great man.

Lysistrata Eleftheria said...

Just to add, Lynne and I are now in contact.

tinks said...

Someone I knew from the Internet, capable of making me think, question and laugh. An internet warrior and shining light; part of a community of kindred souls aghast at the things being done to us by those abusing both power and privilege. A certain turmoil in his wake of late. So sad to hear this news. Not just 'someone' of course but Captain Ranty. RIP. Condolences to the family.