Monday, February 22, 2016

Economist letter of the month

Possibly of the year, possibly of the decade.

My proudest publishing moment was getting a letter printed in the Economist. That beat getting a letter into the Spectator, even beat getting five pages in the Listener for my last book. Because OMG, the Economist. Best letters pages in the world, possibly. 
An Economist reader passes
I am writing to tell you of the death of Martin Bud, possibly The Economist’s longest-ever subscriber. He received his subscription on his 18th birthday in January 1938, and his last copy was delivered after more than 78 years of uninterrupted readership. His life was in many ways a mirror of the 20th century.
Born Jewish in Weimar Berlin to the family of a self-made economist and banker, his mother died of appendicitis when he was four, in the age before antibiotics. Returning from school one day he found himself between a great crowd and a motorcade, face to face with Hitler. His family escaped as refugees to England in 1935, where he qualified as an accountant with PriceWaterhouse. His father stopped him from joining the Republicans in the Spanish civil war and later the British army.
At the family firm, ENM, he developed sophisticated research tools for sales forecasting, which would later form the basis for some celebrated work by the music industry on modelling the long tail of digital consumption. In the 1960s he pioneered the use of microelectronics by British industry.
The years after ENM’s purchase were difficult, as this heir to the German industrial tradition chafed at what he felt was the plutocratic, lax and irrational management of the new owners. He later supplied equipment to many of the world’s state lotteries, and enjoyed working in an industry which thrived by applying rational reasoning to the irrational. His wife of 58 years, Hanna, was a research chemist with Margaret Thatcher at J. Lyons Research. In 2009 the producers of Harry Potter wanted to use his house as a location. He conducted negotiations for the complex contract entirely in verse.


Andrew Johnston said...

It seems they let him begin the second paragraph with a dangling modifier! I shall write them a letter.

Stephen Stratford said...

I hoped someone would spot that. Even the Economist nods.