Obituary: Derek Maggs
Monday 07 December 1992
DEREK MAGGS, known at Bush House as a first-class radio journalist, unflappable in a crisis, who made an important contribution to the life of the newsroom in an individual and team capacity over many years, was a 'double-lifer' - like so many in the World Service. On his days off he worked in his garden shed as an artisan printer.
Maggs was not, and never claimed to be, a printer in the league of Christopher Skelton or Bernard Roberts (whose beautiful work he admired greatly) - he had neither the technology nor the ambition. What he did do as well as anybody was to hand-set, print and bind small, unembellished yet elegant books and pamphlets for several small-press publishers, including the Enitharmon Press, Poetical Histories in Cambridge, the Big Little Poem Series in Grimsby, and myself, at the Menard Press. He printed, too, more than 100 'MenCards' for me over 20 years. These were postcard poems often marking a Menard author's new book, visit to England, round-number birthday or death. He was the perfect jobbing printer of wedding invitations, church bazaar programmes etc for many colleagues in Bush House, where he worked for more than 30 years, finishing as a senior duty editor.
Surely the cheapest printer in the UK (basically he worked at cost price because he enjoyed the labour as a hobby), he printed for me at times when subsidies were not forthcoming. It was not even that he printed things more cheaply than anybody else, so much as he made books and cards possible which would otherwise never have seen the light of day. He always did exactly what one requested, though he could be affectionately irascible if the customer was unclear with instructions or asked too much of his rudimentary technology.
We lived at opposite ends of London, and would meet half- way, at Bush House (on more than one occasion at 2am), for a drink or two and the handing over of the latest book or card. Although he enjoyed the company of close friends and colleagues in the BBC Club, he was an intensely shy and private individual who would never come to the publishing parties for which he had printed the invitations.
His death from a galloping cancer - less than two weeks before he died he wrote me from hospital that he'd be home in time to finish my latest job before Christmas, and on the phone he was even able to joke that since he was already bald at least one symptom did not affect him - removes a friend and colleague from the small-press scene who was, the words are correct for once, literally irreplaceable.
auctionThe first 23 lots have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
healthJames Bond's alcohol consumption puts him at 'high risk' of cirrhosis, tremors... and impotence
musicPolice chief rejects rappers' claims that his work is as dangerous as law enforcement or military service
comedy'Fresh Meat' star sees off stiff competition from Alan Carr, David Mitchell, Graham Norton, Lee Mack and Sarah Millican to win top prize
tvSpoiler alert: Find out the result of a heated final show
Beatles rush out 'bootleg' album to defy EU copyright law
Harvey Weinstein reveals his secret weapon on-set
Now that an oil trader's drinking has got him sacked, will we all have to make do with an afternoon latte?
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Idris Elba get nods for Best Actor, which no black Brit has ever won
Geoffrey Macnab reviews The Desolation of Smaug - the meat in Peter Jackson's Hobbit sandwich
peopleWhat advice would David Cameron give to his younger self?
Latest in News
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ sign language interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 Mystery of Epping Forest 'big cat' is solved
- 3 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 4 Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 5 Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
- < Previous
- Next >
£600 - £750 per day: Cornwallis Elt : SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER- HR- ORACLE- ASS...
£23 - £30 per hour: Morgan Hunt: A fantastic opportunity has arisen within a c...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Morgan Hunt: Job Title - HR Manager Role type - Pe...