Ronan O'Rahilly died yesterday and Malcolm Smith (who calls himself Peter Moore), created a strange tribute to him on a domain web site that he calls 'Radio Caroline' (http://www.radiocaroline.co.uk/#home.html), but which is totally unrelated to Radio Caroline 1964-1967. Someone posted it under the name of 'Mourner' on my Comments Forum.
I had to verify that this was not a sick-joke wind-up and therefore I went to the source site, just in case. But it is genuine and so here are excerpts from Malcolm Smith's script, with highlighting added by me:
"Ronan O'Rahilly 21st May 1940 – 20th April 2020.
I first met Ronan at a protest March in 1970, being delighted to shake his hand. Sixteen years passed before we met again when having taken on some tasks for the station we were both in a basement office in Covent Garden where he viewed me with caution and suspicion and maybe always did. Ronan identified me as an incorrigible chatterbox while he kept conversation to a minimum, stating 'there is no obligation to divulge information just for the sake of doing so'. ....
Chris Moore suggested that for Ronan, life was a game where the subject matter was immaterial only that he would see a situation where money or a possession might be available, when he would employ his persuasive skills so that the money or possession became his. Then the game was won and it was time for the next game.
Ronan was also the master of the put down, made more cruel by his deadpan delivery. At a .... social event, neither of us really wanting to be there, he espied one time Caroline DJ Keith Skues who in 1967 had quickly taken the chance to join the BBC. He was selling copies of his book Pop Went The Pirates. With an anger undimmed by the passage of 25 years, Ronan explained how Keith had deserted as soon as things became difficult. His actual words were far more harsh than that and I hoped that Skues would not approach us but he did. .... 'Ronan baby, when did we last meet, it must be twenty years ago'. 'Probably', said Ronan. 'Ronan baby, we should not leave it so long next time'. "Why not?', said O' Rahilly.
From Surrey he had me give him a ride home in a splendid Range Rover that I had borrowed. He was convinced that it was mine and that maybe I had bought it from my Caroline earnings which of course were nil. All the way to Chelsea and in many different ways he tried to get me to admit that the car was mine finally or seemingly letting the subject drop before saying "So, how much did you pay for it?". There was no malice in the question, just that his mind would not compute that a person would work for so long without expecting any reward.
On various journeys, our subjects covered were strange and delightful. When a person might drop into to conversation that they had bought a new lawn mower, Ronan would talk about the time he bought an experimental nuclear spaceship, or his promotion of an engine that ran on water, which of course it did not.
.... Conversely on the Saturday of the 1989 raid on the Ross he called me when I was veering between despair and furious anger. "Look at it this way" he said calmly and slowly, "It could have been just another boring Saturday afternoon for you". But later he became so guarded as to only hold conversations in moving vehicles or on deserted railway platforms. We dragged his doomed legal case concerning the raid to one law firm after another, often having to lodge cash deposits into court to keep the case active. Ronan really thought that he was playing poker with HM Government and that if he kept raising the stakes they would blink first. They did not and the money was lost.
For a man who lived on his wits, dementia was the cruellest blow. (sic) .... A clever man, sometimes verging on genius. Eccentric of course, sometimes unscrupulous, but suddenly kind and warm hearted. A rogue maybe, but a charismatic and loveable rogue. ...."
I have deleted loony references to his many claims to his own self-importance which were derived from either the achievements of other people, or plucked out of thin air as mere daydreams.
To my mind this is a very strange 'tribute' to Ronan O'Rahilly by Malcolm Smith, because if I was the living subject of these words I might be tempted to conclude that the writer was mocking me as a total fool and con-man. On the other hand, that is exactly what Ronan O'Rahilly was!
One thing is certain: Ronan O'Rahilly did not create Radio Caroline and he had absolutely no impact on the development of British broadcasting. Ronan O'Rahilly was a fraud who fooled a lot of people and some of them have created a quasi-religious cult around him.
If remembrances should have been made to offshore broadcasting pioneers who did influence British broadcasting, they should have recalled Allan James Crawford; Don Pierson and Ted Allbuery.
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