Brian, who was born on April 30 1945 was diagnosed with Tcell lymphoma in early 2020.
He was hospitalised frequently but was able to write lucidly to the end, including pulling together an autobiography— A Lark in Lockdown
He was buried in a wicker coffin in a woodland plot at the back of Hastings cemetery following a simple grave-side ceremony where friends and family were able to give thanks for his life.
Observer arts editor Phil Hewitt said: “Brian was the finest columnist I have ever worked with. He was hugely knowledgeable but wore his knowledge lightly and always wrote engagingly. He was also wonderfully reliable. I always knew it was 8am on a Friday because that was when his column always arrived! He knew that a word count was an unchangeable number; he knew that newspaper deadlines were immovable. He also knew exactly how to be interesting. Brian was a remarkable and hugely likeable man.
“Typically, he prepared his final piece for precisely this moment. He called it Postlude. We offer it today in sadness for his passing and in fondness for his memory.”
Brian’s final column
I was born just as the war was ending. The Atcham workhouse outside Shrewsbury had been converted into a Maternity Home and my dad rode his bike out to visit us each day – through the snow! If money was limited for many years, don’t let people convince you it was austerity. We had free education, soon to have free NHS, cheap plentiful public transport – no problem worrying if you were going to get back home – free museums, art galleries, cheap access to cinema and theatre. The church youth club met twice a week – assuming you went to church on Sunday – and there were at least two club shows each year. That’s beside the regular dances and fetes, bazaars and jumble sales. It seemed there was hardly time to breath with all the excitement. Ok we lived in London and jobs were easy to come by. Trained by the BBC as a typist, I was able to take on any office work, and if I got fed up with a job, I resigned and got another one the next day. I was the last generation to get a totally free education. My BA at Birkbeck College brought me a grant, my MA at Sussex University was entirely covered, and half way through my Doctorate the government of the day abandoned free education and it was all loans and grants. Luckily they agreed to pay my fees for the Doctorate as I had signed up knowing it was all covered.
And as hopefully the previous pages have shown, our lives have been full of activity and adventure.
I genuinely feel sorry for many young people today who feel locked down not just by Covid but by society as a whole. I wonder when we threw away that sense of opportunity and optimism? Hopefully my ramblings have gone a little way to cheering things up.