John Gibson: A famous monocle in the soup

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Careful with these steps, Patrick, they can be dodgy. We’d arranged the lunchtime interview to be held in a basement restaurant in the New Town.

Safely anchored, all 6ft 3in of him, Patrick Moore was soon prattling away like there was no tomorrow. As it was to turn out, he had countless tomorrows ahead of him until they ran out on Sunday.

He was just short of his 90 birthday when the time came for him to find his place – they’d surely found a place for him up there – in the universe, his true stamping ground, so to speak.

I’ve raided his rantings that day we one-to-oned for the Gibpress File. Talk of an unmade bed on the telly and you probably think Tracey Emin. Patrick was the live, mobile version. Carried it well, though.

“Somebody said I’d been hastily constructed and I don’t deny this. I’m distinctly clumsy. Always was.” This “sack of potatoes” in a crumpled suit, this ace astronomer, had umpteen stories to tell over lunch. The topics covered all oozed it’s-great-to-be-alive. He was living then with his inseparable telescope in a thatched cottage in Sussex.

He never married after losing his girlfriend in the war in an air raid. He was unforgiving with the Germans, given to proclaiming ‘‘a Kraut is a Kraut is a Kraut.’

How had he an his trademark monocle coped? ‘‘ He had fiddled his medical to get into the RAF and became a navigator in Wellington bombers over Germany. “My girl was killed in the war and that was it. I’d no wish to be a bachelor for life. Blame it on Mr Hitler.”