In a pause from normal business, I was shocked and saddened by the news of Ken Coates death. Never quite a friend, but a close acquaintance from the days when he worked on Prof Daniels roses, way back in my teens. To the days when he was head of the Bertrand Russel Peace Foundation in the 70's and I was in concert with both his views and protests. I used to help out there in a few ways then and always viewed him as a slightly distant mentor.
Prolific and accomplished author, he remained an unashamed rebel probably to the end of his days. I will remember him at the height of his powers, although he was always hampered by his partial deafness, which may have been the result of his mining days. Principled as he was he refused, to join the army and spent some years at the coalface instead. He was diabetic, which I did not know at the time, only years later.
Like many I have known, I lost touch with him and the Foundation some years ago as I was reincarnated once more into a different world that survival dictated, but I always remembered him with admiration and respect. It breaks one more of the bonds to that time in the 70's when we had it all, almost, and it trickled through our fingers, like sand. We should have listened to Ken, we might not have had to put up with the Blair years if we had, well maybe.
Farewell then Ken, I will break a glass for you. May you live in the hearts of those you leave behind.
His Guardian Obituary is here, http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jun/29/ken-coates-obituary