Tag Archives: cricket

ANN STIEGLITZ, née Bischoff: Our Childhood Friend

Norm, just before he left Bulawayo for Oxford

Norm, just before he left Bulawayo for Oxford

Ann Stieglitz and Perlie Harris née Lederer

I was so happy to meet Norm on Facebook a couple of years ago, and then to meet him and Adele in London at a cake shop, Patisserie Valerie, in Soho. When I walked in, I saw Adèle with her back to the door, and felt I had known her forever; then Norm came in, and it was as if I was seeing the seven-year old boy I had first met at Baines School, Bulawayo, in the 1950s–in my eyes, he had hardly changed—and the lovely photo I took, with his cheeky smile, shows, this, I think.

Norm smiles, London, 2011

Norm smiles, London, 2011

I had brought in my school photos, and we pored over them, one of the whole of Standard One, where we were all so sweet. I think he was delighted to see them, and Adèle and I resisted the cakes, spending the time chatting. It was all too short, for a few months later Norm told us how ill he was.

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BOB BORSLEY: Cricket with Norm

Bob Borsley

[link to Bob’s Writer’s Choice entry]

Probably not many of Norm’s fans and friends shared the full range of his enthusiasms. I didn’t share his fondness for film or jazz or country music, but I did share his interest in certain political matters and his passion for cricket (“one of the most sublime creations of the human spirit” in Norm’s words). The first time I contacted him (in 2005) I praised his blog for its political content but also complained mildly about the amount of publicity given to Australian cricketers. However, I conceded that some of them were in fact rather good. He in turn agreed that there were one or two decent English cricketers and that they perhaps deserved some more attention. A bit later he invited me to contribute a piece to his Memories of Cricket series, which I did in October 2006. I then contributed another, and another, and in the end I provided nearly as many as Norm. He always seemed pleased to have them (and they weren’t all about English successes and Australian failures). I was also able to provide a team of food-related cricketers as a follow up Norm’s teams of philosophers and literary figures.

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BEN STANLEY: Bowling, Norm

Ben Stanley

[originally posted on TwitLonger]

Normfest. A fine idea. Where entry is free, all the bands play country and western, and the fields are full of cricketers toiling and spinning.

I came to normblog late, having noticed that many of the people I most enjoyed following on Twitter had one thing in common: the constant references they made to a chap they referred to simply as ‘Norm’. “I wonder what Norm will make of this?” “Well, obviously, Norm puts it best….” “As usual, Norm is right on the money with this one”. This respect might have been mistaken for excessive deference, but then you clicked on the link and found a few paragraphs of concise and elegant prose that—agree or disagree—couldn’t have been more reasoned or reasonable. I realised that everyone I followed wanted to know what Norm thought, not because of intellectual laziness, but out of intellectual curiosity. Norm quite literally made sense. He set out a clear position on almost everything that crossed his intellectual horizon, and where he could not, he admitted to uncertainty. How rare that quality is in an era of instant and disposable opinions.

Norm was passionate and principled, frank and fair, wise and civil: the very model of a public intellectual. As others have said, he did not use his intellect or position to bully or to insult, but to reason, encourage and educate. Others have posted much about his wisdom and erudition; I would like to emphasise his great decency. Twitter often lends itself to unpleasantness, particularly on the part of those clever and witty enough to compress something savage and wounding into 140 characters. With his command of language and swiftness of mind, I’ve no doubt Norm could have done that had he so chosen, but the point is that he chose not to. There is a big hole in Twitter now, and it is up to us to fill it with reason, goodwill and civility. I will try to follow his example as best I can.

One of my last exchanges with Norm was over a silly hashtag game a few weeks ago, called something like #AddAWordRuinAMovie. (Amid the praise for his blogging, Norm’s prowess at hashtag games has not received quite the attention it deserves.) I retweeted his contribution “Bowling, Shane”, which aptly combined two enduring passions of his: Western films and the great Australian cricket teams of—to his mild vexation this summer–the past. Sidelined yet again by cricket, we got to talking about how a biopic of 90s Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy would actually be a significant contribution to the canon of great sporting films. Well, in the canon of great blogs, normblog occupies even more hallowed a place.

Bowling, Norm.


Tom Deveson

So many people have said it and will say it: Norm made me try to think better and more honestly. I’ve been wondering why I always felt he was rather older than me, although he was born only five years earlier. I realised just now, it’s because he was wise. Gifts like his are rare and precious.

His private kindnesses don’t need to be shared in public, but it’s right and true to say that he was a lovely man as well as a clever man and an upright man. I’m grateful that he invited me onto normblog to write about a book I love and a Test match I remember. His generosity overflowed into so many areas.

As I thought about Norm, two earlier writers came into my mind.

One is Dr Johnson talking to Boswell:

“My dear friend, clear your mind of cant…You may talk in this manner; it is a mode of talking in Society: but don’t think foolishly.”

The other is George Orwell writing about Dickens:

“He is laughing, with a touch of anger in his laughter, but no triumph, no malignity. It is the face of a man who is always fighting against something, but who fights in the open and is not frightened, the face of a man who is generously angry—in other words, of a nineteenth-century liberal, a free intelligence, a type hated with equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls.”

An eighteenth-century Tory, a nineteenth-century liberal, a twentieth-century socialist—we remember them because of their humanity, because of their integrity and because they wrote so well. Now Norm has joined them.


Samir Chopra

[first published on Samir’s blog]

[At The Cordon, you can read Samir’s reflections on two of Norm’s cricket books]

Norman Geras, prolific blogger and professor emeritus of politics at the University of Manchester has passed away at the age of 70. He had been suffering from prostate cancer. Norm was best known as a political theorist whose oeuvre included books on Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg and Richard Rorty. (He also served on the editorial boards of the New Left Review and the Socialist Register.)

I chanced upon Norm’s blog after he and I had a short online exchange in response to a minor quasi-theological debate triggered by Yoram Hazony. I had written a post responding to a piece by Hazony in the New York Times; so did Norm. Corey Robin sent me Norman’s post, and I emailed or tweeted him, pointing him to mine.

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