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Death of a blogger

30 March 2013

I recently learned of the death of a blogging friend, Shaun P. Downey, alias Jams O’Donnell (hat-tip to Cherry Pie).

His blog The Poor Mouth has been in one of my blogrolls for many years, and of it he said ‘The title of this blog comes from a Gaelic expression -“putting on the poor mouth”-which means to exaggerate the direness of one’s situation in order to gain time or favour from creditors.’

He described himself as:

Born Bonaparte O’Coonassa in Corkadoragha where the the torrential rains are more torrential, the squalor more squalid, the hopelessness more utterly hopeless than they are anywhere else. Actually I’m Shaun Downey and I live in Romford which is probably worse (Romford, that is, not my name!)

He was keen on photography, and used his cats and his nephew as models, and some of his work is to be seen in his blog. He also commented on news stories, some of which may easily have been missed, like this one, which I reproduce here as a memorial of sorts, in case his blog is taken down (which I hope it isn’t).

Tasteless painting fetches nearly £1m


The original  painting of the Chinese Girl, thought to be the most reproduced print in the world, was sold for nearly £1 million yesterday. The work by Russian-born artist Vladimir Tretchikoff raised £982,050 – nearly double its expected price – as part of a sale of South African art at Bonhams auction house.

Millions of reproductions of the picture, also known as the Green Lady because of the unusual blue-green skin tone of the subject, have been sold since it was painted in the 1950s.

A Bonhams spokesman said: “It’s very exciting. Suddenly the market has decided they like what they can see with Tretchikoff.”

The Bonhams spokesman added: “It’s almost triple the £380,000 we sold his painting Lenka for last year. It shows he’s beginning to close in on the other major figures on the South African art landscape, Irma Stern – whose picture Arab Priest we previously sold for £3 million – and Pierneef.”

The identity of the Chinese Girl buyer was not known, but the painting will remain within Europe, the spokesman said.

No accounting for taste I suppose

The fact that his blog is still available serves as a memorial, and that is one reason that I disagree with the  advice often given to bloggers to have a self-hosted blog. I’m reluctant to link to posts in self-hosted blogs, because the moment the blogger loses interest, or dies, or goes bankrupt, or stops paying the hosting fee for some other reason, the blog disappears and the link is broken. Of course free hosting sites can also disappear — Geocities and Bravenet are notorious examples, which broke thousands of links — but at least in the case of Geocities there were some generally successful rescue attempts.

The Poor Mouth was hosted by Blogger, and should remain visible as long as Blogger lasts, unless someone decides to take it down. So enjoy it while it lasts, and while it lasts, Shaun Downey’s poor mouth can still speak!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 30 March 2013 10:42 am

    Jams/Shaun was admired and enjoyed by a very diverse range of people.

    I miss my daily visits to his Poor Mouth greatly.

  2. 30 March 2013 10:55 am

    I was saddened to learn of his death as well Steve, didn’t pick it up until I saw it mentioned on James Higham’s website.

    Death is one of those things that you don’t consider on such a new medium as the ‘internet’ but like taxes it’s inevitable. Shaun’s death brings to three the number of people the internet has allowed me to relate to who have subsequently passed away.

  3. 31 March 2013 4:22 am

    I miss him. The tributes and messages being left by so many is an indication of the pleasure he gave us and his warm communications. A fine fellow indeed.

  4. 14 April 2013 10:32 pm

    Sad news!

    I occasionally visited his blog — especially for the cat pictures.

    I hope that The Poor Mouth stays up forever.

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