Tony Hollick; colourful, angry, articulate, tormented and reflective gentleman, 1942-2016
I would like to write an elegy for Tony.
For, out of all the surviving early members of the Libertarian Alliance, I probably knew him best and got closest to him as a friend for a time.
In the mid-1970s this wretched Planet was being steadily consumed by “social democracy” and (worse, locally) “Eurocommunism”. Anyone remember that one then? No, I thought not. In this time, Chris Tame – who needs no introduction on here – Tony Hollick, and others including me as a latecomer, formed the core of the current Libertarian Alliance. The Alternative Bookshop [40 Floral Street, Covent Garden, WC2] of which if you are on here now, you will know, was the hub.
Now, Tony had had a somewhat exciting life previously, as a capitalist-entrepreneur, being in a rather comforable “good way of doing” – as they say down in Liverpool. He had previously owned a Facel Vega motor car, when these were new and extremely expensive, and of which he had been very proud. When I met him, he was working at The National Association For Freedom (later the freedom Association) and he was living in the back room of the Alternative Bookshop with his very very large ginger cat, Beeper, who himself became a minor character of the British libertarian movement. Somewhere in my Library is a photograph of early LA members, posed behind Beeper in a foreground commanding position. Beeper was a Free Cat.
In 1980/81, Tony and I shared a rented house at 86 The Heights, Foxfrove Road, Beckanham, (Kent – well…South East London really…) with another rather strange young man whose name mow totally escapes me, but who, together with Tony, made my telephone bills to come to about £470 a month; my name was on the account, not theirs… The Internet and Skype/Wattsapp were post-invented for Tony in particular, but sadly not then!
Tony loved his close friends so very much, that he would often keep them up all night in intellectual discussions. These would be of course about proper issues,so you had to concentrate all the time. If they were not physically present with him [as I mostly then was], they would be phoned up by him if he decided their opinion or further instruction in matters was vital to him.
If Tony in his old age had known how to get hold of Hillary Clinton on the blower this year, he would have given her a very, very, very hard time.
Tony’s gifts were, in order;
(1) To be a loyal and steadfast friend to those he loved, and who he would try to help to the end of his strength, and it is important to love and helpone’s friends,
(2) To be able to mightily piss-off these very same friends referred to above, repeatedly, without any shred of residual rancour or bad-feeling on his part towards those he had upset,
(3) To be able to completely demolish any random leftoid/non-libertarian presented to him (God help them) in an argument.
I remember being dragooned into trying to help Tony build a “computer” which he’d commanded the three of us to help build. It was The Future, and on the carpet of 86 The Heights, all night for a number of nights. It had 32K of RAM and cost him almost £500…I don’t think there was a keyboard. There was for sure no screen. We had to press little printed-circuit buttons and switches in a particular order, and lights would come on, or not. I wasn’t allowed to shamble off to bed till at least 3 am each time.
I remember a little lunch I had with Tony in about 1982, in WC2, when he was working for the husband (I think?) of author Wendy Perriam. It was never exactly clear what Tony was actually doing for any of the people he “did stuff for”, but it always seemed exciting on the telling!
In that lunch, Tony ordered various usual things as I did, and then said to the waiter, “And…could I have quite a lot of butter.” [Emphasis down to Tony, not me!] The waiter shortly brought about four of the usual commercial foil-wrapped butterpats on a special plate to Tony.
Tony exploded all over the room. In the next three minutes, Tony got offered what looked like another 20 pats.
The libertarian movement will miss Tony, except that the tragedy is that almost nobody left alive in it today has known him. He is the finest example perceivable to me of the notion that to get libertarians to agree about anything is like trying to herd cats. At one time in the past, happily now well gone into forgotten night and fog, it was needful to moderate Tony’s comments on this blog. Tony will fully understand why UKIP today is cracking into pieces.
Tony had “very well and highly articulated views about all matters, and indeed many more than that”. Now that God has been pleased to receive Tony fully into His bosom, as is right, I do pray that Tony’s over-exercised but yet-giant mind can find rest at last.