James Thornton: A Splendid Life
To know James was a privilege. In some ways he was from another age. A chivalrous age. An age where people kept their word. People turned up on time. People behaved decently towards each other. The world now is different and James’s open, sometimes innocent approach to life has not always reciprocated by those he dealt with.
We are now left with just our memories of him. But these will be etched in our minds forever. Because he was an unforgettable man. I’m proud that I could call him my friend.
James, you will be sorely missed, but you will never be forgotten.
Addendum by Anthony Green
Shrewsbury School produced a bevy of interesting young men who lived in the same house as James and graduated the same year:
1. The Deputy Prime Minister I mentioned was Michael Heseltine. He masterminded a coup to oust Margaret Thatcher from office. It nearly succeeded. His reward was to be appointed duty PM in the next conservative government run by John Major. He started Haymarket Media — a hugely successful trade publishing house.
2. The TV celebrity was Michael Palin of Monty Python fame, and maker of TV travel documentaries. He was James's "fag," a British public school custom where younger boys perform menial tasks for older boys. They were not usually well treated. The custom died out about 20 years ago.
3. The political activist was Paul Foot.
4. Three other friends in the same year were Richard Ingrams, Willie Rushton and Christopher Booker who went on to launch the influential satirical magazine Private Eye.
A little know fact that James rarely mentioned was that during WWII his father—Lt. Cmdr. Mark Thornton, R.N., HMS Petard—was the commander of the British navy destroyer that captured the German U-boat carrying an Enigma code machine. After this the Brits were sinking U-boats faster than the Hun could make them. The event has been credited with shortening WWII by a couple of years.