Monthly Archives: March 2014


William Foxsmith Obituary

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

An Obituary for My Father

Dad (known by almost everyone as Bill) was born in Hinckley, Leicestershire in February 1941 and christened William Ernest FOX after his father, Ernest Fox,
When Dad was two years old his father drowned, and Dad was brought up my his Mum Hilda, (known as “H”) in rural poverty, staying in an alms house, for which privilege his mother had to scrub the stone floors of the church on her hands and knees. Dad was no fan of the church or organised religion. The family had moved to Dorset, and Dad with his younger brother Dick went to school in Lyme Regis. He was a fast runner, and won the mile race, competing for the County and setting a school record.
He acquired a stepfather, Jack SMITH, and then another brother (Nick). Dad later combined the names FOX and SMITH and the FOXSMITH family name was created.
Aged 16, Dad left home and went to Navigation school in Plymouth.
He went to sea with the Merchant Navy (one of his ships featured here) for six years during which time he visited China, Japan and Cuba amongst other Countries. In Cuba, he was arrested and spent a night in prison. It’s a bit unclear what offence he had allegedly committed, or how he came to be released, but it was a typical escapade for Dad who loved adventure.
As a young man on leave, he loved cars (like this MG) (and once proudly owned a very unreliable Jag).
His Mum died when he was at sea. He was not able to return for the funeral.
Over 30 years later he found a “memory box” with some keepsakes and mementoes from his sea-faring days. Not realising what it was, he began reading aloud the letter from his brother which broke the news of their mother’s death,and it moved him to tears. It was the only time I ever saw him cry.

Dad met Mum (Sylvia) in July 1964 and they were married in Wembury Church on 05/10/1966.
(and then Honeymoon in Paris!)
His first “land” job was selling encyclopaedias, and then he worked with Mintex (a Company selling brake and clutch linings) as a salesman,retiring as manager of Plymouth depot.
He had been framing pictures- self taught – as a hobby, and now became self-employed doing that professionally.
He had also formed an interest in silhouettes, which he had began collecting, and became something of an expert. (He later became involved in the Silhouette Club)
Eventually he opened his shop on Southside Street, The Barbican, selling antique maps and prints
The shop “Foxsmith Galleries” was open for 20 years, and eventually closed in 2006.
He was renowned for his business ethics, never broke his word or a contract, and had great integrity. His word was his bond, and most deals were done on a handshake. He disliked debt, and liked to be beholden to nobody. He was a hard worker, and in order to provide for his family, put business before pleasure.
Dad loved antiques and fine art, good company and good wine.
He enjoyed classical music, which could always be heard in the basement at home where he was framing pictures, or in the shop.
He had a great sense of humour, and a good sense of adventure. He loved sailing and wind-surfing, but was equally happy to try his hand at anything adventurous from para-gliding to stock car racing to bungee-jumping.
Dad didn’t tolerate fools gladly, and disliked snobbery and pretentiousness.
He hated hypocrisy. He had no airs and graces and could mix easily in any company.
He had a wide circle of friends. Most of all he loved his family.
There were three children- myself Mark and Naomi.
Mum and Dad first lived in a small bungalow in Staddiscombe (near Plymstock) and then moved to Alfred Street on Plymouth Hoe.
We holidayed as children in Butlins, and many years later in France,catching the ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff and driving to a campsite.
We would often travel away for a weekend, to stay with friends or family, and would stay up late- the adults talking and playing games downstairs, us children doing the same upstairs, at least until we got caught.

Sadness at Dads death is tempered by the happiness that he is released from the hell of his last few years. Sadly, in truth we lost Dad a few years ago to the cruel disease of Alzheimer’s, the early onset of which robbed him of a peaceful retirement.
Rarely have the words “Rest In Peace” been more apposite.

Dad was a towering figure for me, and the most important influence on my life.
He was there for all my significant birthdays and milestones, including graduation, was a witness at my wedding, and once came to see me advocating in Court. I inherited or learned from him some qualities that have stood me in good stead as a defence lawyer-a sense of fairness, and an innate sympathy for the underdog.
I admired him very much, and I am sorry most of all that my own sons are deprived of spending time with him, and he with them.

Dad had a great love of board games.
He taught me chess. We played for years and years before I won a game. Dad wasn’t one to let you win. But at least when I eventually did, I knew it was on merit.
Winning at chess was a major surprise to me.
Like most boys, I believed my father invincible, and not just in chess, but everything.

Later we had family games of Monopoly and Risk, which were extremely competitive.
I played as a child , but was aware that games would continue between adults after I was dispatched to bed
Then the drinks would come out, and the games were a backdrop to anecdotes, stories and jokes, with the roar of raucous laughter.
One of Dad’s old friends and chess opponents Jim Williamson is no longer with us, but his son Chris sent me this message on hearing of Dads passing:-
“Glass raised to a beautiful man. Guess the whiskey chess can resume now”

Dad’s brother Nick also has monopoly as one of his key memories of Dad, along with in early years watching their mother putting pins in a world map on the kitchen wall every time they received a card from a country Dad visited when at sea.

I remember the smell of beer, whiskey and pipe smoke
I remember the sound of the laughter and arguments
I remember the taste of the salt spray from sailing with Dad out on Plymouth Sound.
I really miss him.

Please send any anecdotes or photos of Dad. More photos here

A Poem for my Father

You were the one who taught me chess.
First you held out two tightly clenched hands,
Each with a pawn, one white, one black
And in my memory I always got black.

We played in silent concentration,
Your only words “check!” (and, later, “check-mate”)
Fragrant pipe-smoke trailed around the pieces
As I learned the bitter taste of defeat.

Later: Monopoly, you were always the ship
Sailing the board hoping to land on the orange set.
And Uncle Nick was always the racing car
Shouting “Rent please!”, and rubbing his hands

I look back on your life and early days at sea,
Sailing the World looking for adventure
You played a get out of jail card in Cuba
And then bought your first house in Plymouth.

Later we all played a board game called Risk
The so-called “Game of Global Domination”
Its too late now to tell you
For me you conquered the World.

When I left home I too travelled the world
With a back-pack and portable chess set.
Only now do I realise what you taught me
Not just the rules. I learned Values.

Monopoly like life is a game of skill and chance
You drew a bad card from the Community Chest
It’s better to lose than endure a stale-mate
And now you will not pass Go any more.

Now I am the one to teach my sons chess
I hold out my tightly clenched hands
Each with a pawn, one white, one black
The King is dead: Long Live the King

Later: Monopoly, and lessons in life
Try not to Go Back 3 Spaces
So boys, choose a token, roll the dice but remember
My father is always the ship.

Greg Foxsmith
In Memory of William Foxsmith RIP (04.02.41- 10.03.14)

Cheers Dad!


Thank you to everyone for the many condolence cards, supportive messages, anecdotes and photos sent to the family. Please keep sending them! Email
“A vibrant and infectious zest for life (Nigel F.)
entertaining, knowledgable and fun to be around” (Matt Tiller)
He ran his business so well,always kind and courteous”(Jenni)
“No-one will forget Bill” (Vanessa J)
“Our hearts are sore at the passing of our dear friend Bill. We will always value our friendship” (Gerry and Malcolm)
I held the most tremendous admiration for Bill,his humour, stories, knowledge and skills….” (Simon B.)
we are surrounded by memories of Bill as there isn’t a room in the house that hasn’t either a picture from the Gallery or framed by Bill” (Jane and John Green)

“Certainly Bill was very good to me regarding old Plymouth prints. He always regretted not keeping a copy of everything that passed through his hands, and he was always happy to let me make copies of anything he thought I might not have seen before.” (Chris Robinson, of Chris Robinson, Plymouth )

“This card (pictured below) shows one of the many precious prints which adorn my walls and which Bill found for me”


a wonderful entertaining host!” (Viv and Brian)
A lovely human being, a delightful neighbour and friend with a great sense of fun and generosity of spirit” (Elaine and Adrian)
Bill was a fantastic man.” (Sarah and Tony)
“Bill was a delight to work for”
“The spirit which he evoked-one of friendship, challenge and investigation” (John Pickles)

…the road from the beach (pictured below) where Bill and I walked up from the boat on so many happy occasions” (Tad)


Ros offered these lines from Shakespeare (Anthony to Cleopatra):-
the miserable change now at my end
Lament nor sorrow at,
But please your thoughts
In feeding them with these my former fortunes

An anecdote from Malcolm and Gerry:- “Bill loved sailing in Plymouth Sound after work. One evening the tide and wind took him into Mountbatten Pier, and as he had stayed out until the last minute, it had become dark and he had no choice but to land. At that time it was private, R.A.F. property, with landing prohibited. He somehow found the Officer’s Mess and entered in his wet suit [just like James Bond] and persuaded them he was not a spy. He finished at the bar with a pint telling them of his adventures!”

“We are both very sad to hear of the death of your Dad, a great friend of mine and someone I admired very much.” (Richard Walker)


“Save Our Slide!” Guest Blog by Adam and Daniel FoxSmith

This first part of blog from 2014 is by Adam Foxsmith then aged 10 

We all know that children’s play space is important in a crowded place like Islington. So when my brother Daniel,( aged 6, yr2) and I heard that the Council were planning on taking down the Archway slide, we felt we had to do something about it.
There was a consultation, but we discovered that both options involved taking down the slide!
So, Daniel and I put together a question for the Council meeting., as reported in the Islington Tribune here .
At the meeting, Daniel asked the question “Will you save the slide?”, and I asked a supplementary question. The Council said they would think about it!
We also presented a petition to save the slide.
We have decided to continue the petition, to see how many more signatures are gathered. The Council is still considering what to do, as reported here

Please sign the petition!   Our Dad helped on twitter, using #SaveTheSlide.


This part of the blog is by Daniel Foxsmith (now aged 10) in 2017

I am very happy that the Council has improved the park. It is great to have the slide back and I am glad that we saved it. I have tested the slide and can confirm that it as good as before or maybe better! 👍

Slide re-opening covered by Islington Tribune here


The park-including revamped slide was re-opened on September 30th 2017

7BB041AF-6A74-4982-9FB1-EB41E3432E34 33AF3AC2-EDAB-487B-BF8A-E344E6BCA6DA19660121-D17D-4741-B250-EB3FDAA5D3F9 82E8172E-00F6-4EFA-B61A-4806338923E3


Grayling Day Demo -Speakers for Justice

The following speakers spoke up for Justice at The Grayling Day demo in Westminster  07/03/14

1 Paul Harris
A former president of LCCSA, Paul opened the proceedings with a rousing address. He said the cuts would result in a two-tier system – one for those with money and one for those without.
2 Alistair Webster QC
A Lib Dem peer he reminded us of their Party Policy of supporting Legal aid, but commented adversely on their failure in government to speak out against Grayling’s cuts, concluding “The politicians may have failed Justice. We will not.”

3 Laura Janes
Laura, representing The Howard League for Penal Reform dealt with how Chris Grayling has removed most prison law work from criminal legal aid. Her whole speech is available here.
4 Sir Ivan Lawrence QC
Sir Ivan (criminal barrister for over 50 years, and was a Tory MP for over 20 years) said he was ashamed of this Government. “We will bring the Criminal justice system to a halt to save it- that’s why we are here”
5 Ian Lawrence (NAPO)
Representing the Probation Service, another service under attack by Grayling,

6 Paddy Hill


Paddy reminded us what is at stake. “There will be many more miscarriages of Justice like the Birmingham 6if legal aid is cut to this level.” An article about Paddy’s speech, with a clip in which he brands the MOJ the “Ministry of Injustice” is here.


7 Sir Anthony Hooper
Retired Court of Appeal Judge, Sir Anthony reminded us  eloquently:-“For some 60 years everyone has had the right to equal access to Justice. This Government is destroying that right”
8 Francis Neckles
A man who was rightly acquitted at trial, preserving his good character, thanks to good representation by his Legal Aid lawyer. “Chris Grayling says he can’t afford to fund legal aid- Francis Neckles says we can’t afford NOT to”
9 Shami Chakrabarti

Representing Liberty, Chakrabarti (back when she was universally admired and before her appointment as Baroness) made a powerful speech linking Legal Aid with freedom.
(See  the Liberty consultation response here)



10 Dave Rowntree
Dave is drummer with Blur and also a solicitor with Kingsley Napley.
He spoke about the Magna Carta, which was signed 800 years ago next year, and reminded us of clause 40 – “To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.”
11 Nigel Lithman QC
Representing the CBA, he had been invited to speak to demonstrate the unity between bar and solicitors in fighting the cuts. Three weeks later, Lithman struck a “deal ” with the MoJ, having met them secretly, for which act he was widely condemned by campaigners He Has subsequently been appointed a Circuit  Judge.
12 Janis Sharp
Janis is Mum to Gary McKinnon, and led a courageous (and ultimately successful) fight against his extradition. She knows the value of legal aid, and again can be seen in the YouTube film (incorrectly subtitled as Janis McKinnon- apologies Janis)
13 Bill Waddington
Bill was chair of CLSA. Selfless, dedicated and competent, he is the opposite of the bungling, greedy and legal illiterate Chris Grayling.

14 Noela Claye
Speaking with the support of the charity Women against Rape WAR, Noela brought a victims perspective, and showed that ultimately this demo was not about fees or careers, it was about victims, clients, and justice.
Noela spoke on camera in this short film of the start of the demo. (Thanks to Matt Tiller for film)

Hanna Evans
Hanna was a new tenant and rising star at 23 Essex St. Chambers. Read more (and hear her speech) at #Just4Justice demo here.
15 Sadiq Khan MP
A former lawyer in a legal aid practice,  Labour MP and shadow Lord Chancellor (as he then was) said he opposed Grayling’s cuts. When asked  to give an unequivocal commitment to reverse them if  in office he declined. In the run-up to the election campaign, he  combined his portfolio responsibility with a role of attacking the Green Party (who had made a commitment  to restore legal aid funding) After the election, he successfully campaigned for London Mayor.
16 Matt Foot
Matt, one of the founder members of the Justice alliance summed up the rally, before leading the demonstraters on a March to the Ministry of (In)Justice.


Short summary with speaker clips here on Youtube

Pictures of demo by demotix here

Excellent commentary and photos of “Grayling Day” here (courtesy of Legal Aid Watch)

Photos of demo, all speakers, thanks to Luca Nieve, here

Late Night Levy Madness

The streets of Islington are, according to Islington Labour, rife with violent drunks after the midnight hour, and thus they have rushed to be the first London Borough to raise a tax on licenced premises- well summarised in the Tribune here as the Islington “late night levy”
The move will have little effect on high-profit clubs with promotional drinks offers, disgorging their drunken clientele in the early hours, but will hasten the closure of small community pubs according to CAMRA
In classic Islington style, the money raised will be spent on more saturation CCTV coverage, and recruiting a private security force, who will patrol the streets with no powers of arrest, a rag-tag motley-crew of para-military red-coats.
This hare-brained scheme was introduced by Islington Labour’s Councillor Paul Convery.

There was always something of the Puritan about Cllr Convery.

Unfortunately, Captain Convery’s New model Army is more of a “Dad’s Army”, with Paul as a cross between Private Frazer and the pompous Captain Mainwaring character, supported by his loyal sidekick Cllr Poole, and some loyal backbenchers resembling Cpl. Jones, running around wringing their hands and shouting “Don’t Panic! Don’t Panic!”


The proposal to introduce a privatised security squad was buried in the policy paper (at para 5.3 ) and was not a “recommendation” , perhaps because the idea had nothing to recommend it, but more likely as under the Constitution it is possible only to amend recommendations, so therefore impossible to table an amendment to the goon squad proposal. 

Predictably, Councillors supporting the levy ignored the failure of current licensing policy and policing, and naively assumed that the levy would somehow magic away the problems associated with late night drinking. Thus, they argued anyone against the lobby was somehow in favour of vomit, urine and yobbery. Each speaker was keen to outdo each other with apolacyptic visions of Hogarthian imagery, Cllr Poole offering to conduct guided tours of the hellish scenes in his ward. It’s only a matter of time before someone takes up that idea, and we see “drunk and disorderly” tours advertised in TimeOut or Rough Guide. It was this hellish imagery that gave rise to the headline “Islington rivers of vomit and urine” in the Islington Gazette.

In 1979 Elvis Costello recorded Oliver’s Army.
Now we have Convery’s Army:-
Convery’s Army are on their way
Convery’s Army are here to stay
And we would rather see anything else than Islington run this way…

Full music playlist for “Cap’n Convery’s Late Night Levy Army” here

Letter in Islington Tribune here