St Bride's: News

Richard Blystone Memorial

On Tuesday 15th May, 2018, at 11:30am a service of thanksgiving and celebration for the life of Richard Blystone was held at St Bride's Church, Fleet Street.

Welcome & Opening Prayer

The Revd Canon Dr Alison Joyce introduced the service:-

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Richard Blystone was not merely an outstanding news reporter and a consummate wordsmith, whose ability to communicate and bring to life news stories - whether great or small - was quite simply unsurpassed. He was also an exceptional human being.

Despite his exposure to the most horrific of events during his professional career, events that could so easily have rendered a lesser man hardened and cynical - what made Richard truly remarkable was that he retained his warmth and his humanity. He was a brilliant, tough, and astonishingly gifted man. So, alongside our deep sadness at the loss of this great man, we have much for which we can be profoundly thankful at this service, at which we honour his memory and celebrate his life.

We begin now with an opening prayer by the priest and poet, John Donne.

Bring us O Lord at our last awakening
Into the house and gate of heaven,
To enter into that gate and dwell in that house
Where shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light;
No noise nor silence, but one equal music;
No fears nor hopes, but one equal possession:
No ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity
In the habitations of your glory and dominion
World without end.

Amen.

ADDRESSES

Julia Blystone

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Thank you all for being here today.

To family, old friends and colleagues, many of whom have crossed oceans and continents to join us in this beautiful church today, we are so glad you’re here; and special appreciation to Mike Chinoy, who travelled all the way from Hong Kong.

To Ingrid, Todd, Penny and Gabby, who orchestrated this service, we are so grateful for your support and kindness; to the team at CNN who put together the most beautiful tribute; and to everyone who has shared their memories of Daddy, your stories have been the most extraordinary comfort to us over the past few weeks.

My father was a large man. He contained multitudes.

I have measured his circumference in a million hugs. He smelled like cigarettes and sandalwood soap, and he always felt like the safest place on earth.

You all know Daddy as the poet he was – a wordsmith, lyricist, grammarian, a TYPER IN ALL CAPS, but those hands that played an Olympus typewriter bash bash zing, could also make ANYTHING.

He was a magician who made children’s beds into cars, built the cockpit of a spaceship from moving boxes and shaving cream caps, transformed tobacco tins into dollhouse furniture, and one Christmas, our vacuum cleaner into an elephant.

Those square, capable hands could draw wicked cartoons, make terrifying Halloween masks, create tennis ball bazookas, whip up cornfritters for dinner, and once – with his co-conspirator Daniel – a chocolate chip cookie cake. Which was – essentially – cookie batter in a cake tin. He considered it the pinnacle of their culinary achievements and years later he would still speak of it longingly. It was their madeleine.

His hands were never still, he was compulsively creative, or perhaps – creatively compulsive. Daddy’s desk was covered in pots of coloured pencils, paper clips, odd ends of cardboard, rubber bands, small packets of screws – because one just never knew when those items would be JUST the thing for a project. We battled for years over the hoarded shaving cream caps.

At work, Daddy told the world devastating truths about war and famine, but at home he told stories of a very different kind.

At bedtime, my brothers and I were the stars of those tales; capers featuring the notorious Jim the Horse, Shoeshine Shorty and Fergus the Elf. When his beloved grandson Sam came into the picture, these characters were resurrected, and some new ones came to life – a band of dastardly crows who spat and cursed in Croatian. Originally, the crows spoke English, but parental objections arose when 4 year old Sam began to repeat “Hah! Goddammit – that’s mine!” So, ever the subversive, Daddy switched to an equally colourful but undetectable catchphrase.

Over his 50 career, my father travelled the world, interviewed leaders who have shaped recent history, rogues, royalty, despots, diplomats…. the Spice Girls.

But, famous for his round, rumpled look, Daddy was rigorously understated. He abhorred snobbery, affectation, foods that are served in a raspberry coulis. I think he was happiest drinking martinis with Mummy in the shed room of the house in Maine, eating fried clams by the fistful on the dock, or visiting the hardware store with Sam – Pooh and Piglet in an Aladdin’s cave of possibilities.

It is impossible to speak of my father’s life without speaking also of my mother, for this is their story.

It is a love story that spanned almost six decades, of an extraordinary marriage which carried them from Copenhagen to Atlanta, to New York, Saigon, Bangkok, London, Castine, and Gabarone.

Daddy proposed three times before my mother finally said yes. He always knew that there was no Dick Blystone without his Helle Paechter. Together, they built a life of beautiful adventure, travelled the world and raised three children and a smelly labrador who adored them. Throughout the decades, they found joy, comfort and inspiration in one another – it was a romance for the ages.

Their relationship proved to us that love could be infinite. Helle was the last word that Daddy spoke.

My father once said that he never told a lie until he was 12 years old. It was perhaps this unwavering commitment to the truth that was the foundation for the man he became – his fearlessness, his superhuman strength, his profound human decency, and his gift with words.

When his great heart finally stopped, he was undiminished, unbowed – he was wholly himself.

He passed as he had lived.

My father was a large man, he was a giant among men. He showed us the meaning of honour and excellence, and he made those who knew him want to be better.

He is, and always will be, my hero.

Ingrid Formanek & Todd Baxter

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I’M WONDERING… HOW WOULD DICK REACT TO THIS GROUP GATHERED TO HONOR HIM. NO DOUBT HE’D SAY DON’T MAKE ME SOUND DOUR AND BORING…BRING OUT BUBBA, BLY, ROY, ARFER AND BUCK..

BUT WE ALSO CALL DICK ‘OUR POET LAUREATE’, A MONICKER EACH ONE OF US CLAIMS TO HAVE COINED

TRUTH IS, NONE OF US CAN CLAIM IT, HE GAVE HIS PROSE TO EVERYONE

AND JUST AS WE THOUGHT EACH OF US WAS SPECIAL TO DICK…BECAUSE OVER THE YEARS, ONE BY ONE, HE GIFTED MANY OF US WITH A COPY OF STRUNK AND WHITE’S ELEMENTS OF STYLE…. TURNS OUT DICK TRIED TO RIGHT THE WRONGS OF ENGLISH USAGE WITH A PERSONALIZED MESSAGE TO FIT EACH RECIPIENT.

JANE EVANS’ SAYS: THE ANSWER TO EVERYTHING.

A TAPE EDITOR ASPIRING TO BE A NEWSPAPER WRITER, MIKE RAYE’S INSCRIPTION SAYS: TWO WEEKS AGO I COULDN’T EVEN SPELL REPORTER, AND NOW I ARE ONE.

MY COPY READS: HOW TO MUTTER CORRECTLY…..SO HERE I AM… MUTTERING…IN PUBLIC…ABOUT DICK

BUT BLY DIDN’T STAND ON CEREMONY

HE WAS A BIG CHARACTER

WITH A BIG PRESENCE

AND BIG THOUGHTS…EVEN FOR THE SMALLEST THINGS

HE ALSO HAD A BIG HEART

WHEN WE WON AN AWARD FOR THE IRON CURTAIN ODYSSEY, HE, AND TODD, DONATED THE MONEY TO THE EDUCATION OF A HANDICAPPED RWANDAN BOY MY HUSBAND BRIAN AND I SUPPORT.

A KIND AND GENEROUS GESTURE THAT I REPEATEDLY WITNESSED FROM MOZAMBIQUE, TO ROMANIA, TO IRAQ AND BEYOND.

DICK WAS ALSO A HUMBLE MAN, NOT A CHEST THUMPER.

HE TOLD STORIES, BUT NOT STORIES ABOUT HIMSELF.

DURING A LULL BETWEEN SCUD ATTACKS IN THE FIRST GULF WAR, HE WAS BEING INTERVIEWED ON THE PHONE BY A WRITER FOR POPULAR AMERICAN MAGAZINE. I COULD HEAR HIS DICK’S ANSWERS…MAKING HIMSELF SOUND LIKE ANY ELMIRA NEW YORK BOY NEXT DOOR.

AFTER A FEW MINUTES, I IMAGINED THE INTERVIEWER DRAWING BORED DOODLES IN HIS NOTEPAD. SO I IMPOLITELY GRABBED THE PHONE AND HASTILY SAID DOWN THE LINE:

LET ME TELL YOU A FEW OF THE THINGS THIS MAN HAS DONE, BECAUSE HE WON’T. LIKE THE TIME HE RISKED HIS OWN LIFE TO SAVE THAT OF A CAMBODIAN JOURNALIST AND HIS FAMILY AFTER PHNOM PENH FELL TO THE KHMER ROUGE.

SELF DEPRECATING, DICK ALWAYS CALLED HIMSELF A REPORTER, NOT A CORRESPONDENT, OR JOURNALIST. HE WAS THERE ‘JUST TO REPORT’.

BUT HE DID SO MUCH MORE THAN REPORT.

HE TAUGHT A GENERATION OF US ABOUT THE HUMAN CONDITION…. ABOUT SEEING THINGS THAT ARE IN PLAIN SIGHT BUT OFTEN OVERLOOKED…. ABOUT FINDING THE TRUTH AND TELLING IT…. ABOUT DEFENDING THOSE WHO NEED HELP AND CAN'T DO IT FOR THEMSELVES.

HOW TO BE KIND IN AN OFTEN UNKIND WORLD.

AND HOW TO LAUGH AT YOURSELF.

DICK WAS A BIT OF A MORAL COMPASS FOR SO MANY OF HIS YOUNGER COLLEAGUES.

HE HAD THE ABILITY TO BRING EVERYBODY’S GAME UP. PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY

YEARS OF BEING ON THE ROAD WITH BLY WAS A BIT HABIT FORMING. IN ADDITION TO DOING SOME GOOD JOURNALISM, IT WAS OFTEN ALSO A HOOT. YOU MISSED IT IF YOU HADN’T HAD A BUBBA ROAD TRIP IN A WHILE.

SO WHEN BRIAN AND I MOVED TO BOTSWANA, WE GOT AN EARLY EDITION GPS AS A PRESENT AT A GOING AWAY PARTY AT DICK AND HELLE’S HOUSE, OUR FIRST WAYPOINT.

FOR FIVE YEARS OF DRIVING AND GETTING LOST IN THE OKAVANGO DELTA, DICK AND THE BLYSTONE HOUSE ON PARSON'S GREEN WAS OUR CONSTANT REFERENCE POINT, EVEN IF SOME TEN THOUSAND KILOMETERS AWAY.

EVERY TIME WE’D CHECK THE GPS, WE’D END UP TELLING SOME DICK STORY. OR RECITE A LINE FROM A SCRIPT.

HOW COULD YOU NOT…WHO ELSE COULD EFFORTLESSLY AND EASILY EQUATE THE FREEDOM OF THOUGHT, THE FREEDOM OF WORSHIP, WITH THE FREEDOM OF GOING DOWN TO THE RIVER TO FISH IN THE DAYS OF COMMUNISM.

OR FIND JUST THE RIGHT SHELLEY VERSE TO RECITE IN ONE OF SADDAM HUSSEIN’S BOMBED OUT PALACES.

DICK EVENTUALLY CAME TO STAY WITH US FOR A FEW WEEKS IN THE DELTA TO SCRIPT AN ELEPHANT DOCUMENTARY WE WERE WORKING ON.

HE LIKED IT SO MUCH, HE CAME BACK TO BOTSWANA WITH HELLE AND SPENT A FEW MONTHS LIVING IN THE CAPITAL GABORONE WHERE DICK GOT A TEACHING GIG AT THE UNIVERSITY OF BOTSWANA ONE SEMESTER.

HE WAS TASKED WITH TEACHING TV DOCUMENTARY PRODUCTION AND NEWS ROOM MANAGEMENT.

I’M NOT SURE DICK KNEW HOW TO MANAGE A NEWS ROOM, BUT ALL OF US, INCLUDING HIS BOSSES, KNEW HE CERTAINLY HAD A FEW IDEAS OF HIS OWN.

AT THE TIME, IN AN EMAIL TO A COLLEAGUE, DICK WROTE ‘I’M TEACHING NEWS MANAGEMENT – WHICH I KNOW ONLY AS A VICTIM’

AS FOR DOCUMENTARY PRODUCTION, DICK LINED UP NANOOK OF THE NORTH. A SILENT FILM SHOT IN THE CANADIAN ARCTIC IN 1922. DICK SHOWED IT TO PEOPLE WHO LIVE ON THE EDGES OF THE KALAHARI DESERT ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PLANET. AND WHO ONLY GOT TELEVISION IN THE COUNTRY THREE YEARS PRIOR. IT DIDN’T MAKE THE IMPRESSION HE WANTED IT TO.

BUT BECAUSE DICK SAW WHAT MANY OF US COULDN’T, HE HAD HOPED OTHERS COULD TOO.

HIS MIND KNEW NO BOUNDARIES. IT SOARED AND IT FOUND THE WORDS.

DICK, JUST COULDN’T BE FENCED IN.

AND THAT, MIGHT AS WELL BE HIS ANTHEM – DON’T FENCE ME IN

Ingrid Formanek

HE ‘CAST HIMSELF AS AN INNOCENT, WITH A DECIDEDLY JAUNDICED, FEISTY GAZE ON THE REST OF THE WORLD.’

THIS DESCRIPTION IS ABOUT SAMUEL CLEMENS– KNOWN FOR HIS HUMOR AND ABILITY TO CLEARLY REVEAL THE GRITTY REALITY OF 19TH CENTURY LIFE IN AMERICA.

CLEMENS AND RICHARD BLYSTONE WERE BOTH NAVIGATORS FOR HIRE-

CLEMENS SPENT 4 YEARS PILOTING A MISSISSIPPI RIVERBOAT, BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR BEGAN, AND HE CHANGED COURSE AND BECAME A WRITER.

BLYSTONE SPENT 4 YEARS WITH THE NAVY FLYING OVER THE NORTH ATLANTIC, DURING THE COLD WAR, TRACKING SOVIET SUBS, BEFORE HE MAPPED OUT A CAREER AS A REPORTER.

AMONG THE PUBLIC, SAMUEL CLEMENS WAS KNOWN BY THE RIVERBOAT TERM: MARK TWAIN

AMONG HIS COLLEAGUES, RICHARD BLYSTONE WAS KNOWN BY THE ROAD-NAMES: BUCK, ARFER, FLOYD, AVERY, DMITRI AND PERHAPS MOST FAMOUSLY…. BUBBA.

HE WAS A BIG PART OF THE EARLY RAGTAG CNN DAYS, STARTING THE FLEDGLING 24 HOUR NEWS CHANNEL, WHEN PERHAPS, ON THE ROAD, THE ONLY WAY TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR SANITY WAS TO USE NICKNAMES.

MARK TWAIN FINISHED TRAVELING, SETTLED DOWN AND WROTE HIS GREATEST WORKS INCLUDING HUCKLEBERRY FINN IN ELMIRA, NEW YORK.

IT SEEMS THAT THERE MAY BE SOME MAGIC IN THAT BELOVED TOWN- 26 YEARS AFTER TWAIN WAS BURIED THERE, BUBBA BLYSTONE WAS BORN.

ANOTHER GREAT WRITER WHO WOULD CAPTURE THE WORLD WITH COMPELLING CLARITY, FIRST FOR AP AND THEN FOR CNN.

I HOLD THE HONOR OF BEING THE KEEPER OF BLYSTONE’S MASTER TAPES. WHEN CNN MOVED FROM TAPE TO DIGITS- THE LONDON ONES, ARCHIVED IN ATLANTA, WERE DESTINED FOR THE DUSTBIN.

AS WE STOOD LOOKING AT THIS MOUNTAIN OF CASSETTES, JIM BOULDEN SAID, “THEY SHOULD NOT THROW AWAY BLYSTONE'S TAPES- THOSE ARE MASTERS IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE”. SO I MOVED THEM… TO A SAFE PLACE…

AND STORED THEM AWAY LIKE LETTERS FROM A CLOSE FRIEND THAT WARMS YOUR HEART.

TO ME, IT IS LIKE CURATING A CLASSIC BAND’S ARCHIVE- IT IS NOT ONLY THE HITS THAT SATISFY THE SOUL, BUT ALSO THE DEEP CUTS.

LIKE GREAT MUSIC, THE STORIES BEAR REPEAT VIEWING, REVEALING INTRICATE LAYERS OF THOUGHTS AND CONNECTIONS PREVIOUSLY UNHEARD OR FORGOTTEN.

IN THE FLURRY TO GET NEWS OUT A-S-A-P. OFTEN THE EDITORS AND THE SHOOTERS DID NOT EVEN KNOW WHAT A GEM THEY HAD WORKED ON UNTIL THEY WATCHED IT ON AIR.

RAW PICTURES AND WORDS EDITED TOGETHER,

AS BEST THEY COULD,

AS FAST AS THEY COULD,

TO MAKE THE FEED,

NOT KNOWING THOSE QUICK CUTS REVEALED THE BRILLIANT FACETS OF SHIMMERING BLYSTONE DIAMONDS.

EVERYONE WHO WORKED WITH DICK CONSIDERED THEMSELVES LUCKY, BUT DICK WAS PARTICULARLY BELOVED BY THE CAMERA TEAMS HE WORKED WITH, BECAUSE HE CARED ABOUT THE PICTURES AND YOUR OPINIONS OF WHAT WAS BEST AND WHAT HE SHOULD USE IN HIS STORY.

I WAS LUCKY- I DID THE BUBBA TOURS QUITE A BIT.

HE HAD A CHILD-LIKE WONDER ABOUT THE WORLD THAT WAS INFECTIOUS.

MY FAVORITE TRIP WAS REVISITING THE LENGTH OF THE IRON CURTAIN FROM THE BALTIC SEA TO THE ADRIATIC IN 1999, WITH INGRID DRIVING/TRANSLATING/PRODUCING, AND DICK CREATING.

AFTER THE SHOOT, LIKE RUSSIAN TANKS WE PUSHED WEST AND INVADED PARSONS GREEN, AND ENCAMPED IN THE BLYSTONE HOME.

THERE WE BUILT CNN’S OWN IRON CURTAIN OF AN EDIT SUITE, IN THE BLYSTONE FRONT PARLOUR, WRITING AND EDITING TOGETHER FOR MORE THAN A MONTH.

HELLE NEVER DID DECLARE: “DICK BLYSTONE TEAR DOWN THIS WALL… OF EQUIPMENT.”

AT LEAST NOT OUTLOUD… AT LEAST THAT I HEARD.

FOR ME THE COMRADERIE, THE JOKES, AND THE STORIES DICK AND INGRID TOLD WHILE HUDDLED AROUND THE WARMTH OF AN SX EDIT SUITE WERE ALMOST AS PRICELESS AS THE STORIES WE PUT TOGETHER.

THOSE ARE THE GOLDEN MOMENTS EMBOSSED IN MY MEMORY.

DICK HAD A WORD: DREAM-O-VISION

WHICH BECAME A LIST FOR THE PHOTOJOURNALIST TO ATTEMPT TO SHOOT AND WHEN HE ASKED YOU TO GET A CERTAIN SHOT YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW WHAT HE HAD IN MIND- BUT HE DID.

SHOOT THE MISERABLE PEOPLE RIDING IN BUSES, HE SAID, IN KALININGRAD, BECAUSE HE ALREADY HAD THOUGHT TO EQUATE THOSE PRESSURE-COOKED PROLETARIAT BEHIND THE WAVY GLASS, TO THE BUGS FROZEN IN TIME IN THE PRECIOUS AMBER THAT WASHES UP ON THE SHORES THERE.

BLYSTONE PLOTTED HIS ROUTE ON THE SAME MAP THAT WE ALL HAVE BUT HAD THE ABILITY TO REACH A DIFFERENT DESTINATION.

BLAZING A TRAIL WITH HUMOR AND HUMANITY, TRACKING IN HIS GRUFF LOVABLE VOICE, HE OFTEN WAS AT HIS MOST POETIC WHILE TRAVERSING THE MOST MISERABLE STORIES.

HE TOOK THE SAME WORDS WE USE AND FORGED THEM INTO SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY.

SHAPING THE KIND OF NEWS PIECES THAT MADE PEOPLE STOP…

WATCH…

LISTEN…

AND THINK.

RICHARD BLYSTONE- THE NAVIGATOR FOR HIRE FROM ELMIRA “CAST HIMSELF AS AN INNOCENT, WITH A DECIDEDLY JAUNDICED, FEISTY GAZE ON THE REST OF THE WORLD”

YEA, I WAS LUCKY- WE ALL WERE.

HE WAS A CHERISHED COLLEAGUE, A GREAT FRIEND AND A CNN LEGEND IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD AND IN EVERY SENSE OF HIS WORDS.

Todd Baxter


READINGS

Rich Brooks read 1 Corinthians 13

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13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Daniel Blystone read Nature's first green is gold by Robert Frost

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Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Helle Blystone read So we'll go no more a roving by Lord Byron

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So, we'll go no more a roving
   So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
   And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
   And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
   And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,
   And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a roving
   By the light of the moon.

John Blystone read Extract from Ode: Intimations of Immortality by William Wordsworth

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What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;

MUSIC

The choir & organist of St Bride's performed the following anthems and songs:-

Nimrod from Enigma Variations - Elgar

Laudate dominum - Mozart

Amazing Grace - Trad. arr. Langston

Clair de lune - Debussy

Zadok the Priest - Handel

They can't take that away from me - Gershwin arr. Jones

Hymns:

Morning Has Broken

Lord Of All Hopefullness

Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory

OBITUARIES & COMMENT

CNN

Star Tribune

Blystone Memorial Digest from Todd Baxter on Vimeo.

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