Monday, 5 June 2017

Mr Adrian H. Slack - An Obituary.  West Briton  |  Posted: August 11, 2011

MANY IN CORNWALL and farther afield, will be saddened to learn of the death of Adrian Slack, who passed away recently at the Ponsandane Nursing Home, Penzance. This followed a protracted illness, borne with his typical courage, fatalistic good humour and equanimity, smiling and joking to the end.
Adrian lived an eventful and adventurous life. Born into a Kent family that traced its roots, he claimed, to at least three English monarchs and to wealthy ancestors in the north east of England, he suffered the trauma of being sent away at the age of 6 to live with an aunt and soon after to a boys' boarding school, where through puberty, he discovered his sexual inclinations, which he retained throughout his life, and which he defended with a disarming transparency and candour.
Though small in stature, from an early age he possessed an impressive physical and mental acuity, which he demonstrated by being admitted to the Royal Ballet School at the age of 14 and by his later achievements with horses. He was responsible for training Harvey Smith's winners and Adrian himself won dressage events at the highest national level. During the 1960s and 1970s he mixed in elevated London society, both legitimate and shady, which was the source of endless fascinating inside stories. At 15, through family contacts, he became one of the youngest Lloyds' under-writers, courting a Baring, of banking fame.
Disillusioned by the horse world, in the 1980s, he disappeared from public view with a partner in the Torquay area, later moving to Penzance in the late 1990s, in time for the Millennium celebrations and to be near his sister. Here he had connections with Pentecostal Christianity but became disillusioned by what he saw as its many failings and limitations. He also became well known as bon vivant, raconteur and socialite in local drinking establishments and nightclubs, where his ballet training was put to good, self-deprecating effect.
In many ways Adrian was an enigma and paradox. He was self-confident and opinionated, empathetic and caring, yet capable of searing self-doubt and cutting cynicism of power and authority, with which he had frequent colourful collisions. He was the epitome of good manners and impeccable breeding, yet could shock with his unadorned expression and opinions. He will be remembered with affection and sadness, as a painfully honest and sensitive individual, who had the rare gift of insight into the human condition, rejecting all pretence, hypocrisy and judgmentalism. He accepted people as he found them and expected others to do the same.
Maybe the following extract from Jean Genet's poem – Le Condamne A Mort, dedicated to a young man about to be executed, may be regarded as a fitting epitaph:
From death I ask for peace and long sleeps,
the songs of the Seraphs,
their perfumes, their garlands,
small angels of fleece in big hot cloaks,
and I hope for moonless sunless nights,
above the motionless moors.
Adrian had no children and leaves behind two brothers and two sisters, who attended, with friends, his committal service at Camborne Crematorium.

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. To avoid confusion, the above is not the same Adrian Slack who remains an acknowledged expert in the the field of carnivorous plants who has written several authoritative books on the subject.

    An article about the latter and his passion can be found here: and here: The general topic of carnivorous plants is covered here:

    I notice he lives not far from Glastonbury, where in the late '60's and early '70's I used to visit weekly, a friend, (the late) John Thew. This was to help him recover his speech, following a serious road accident and brain injury in the high Peruvian Andies, when he worked there as a volunteer. John also had an abiding interest in such plants and tried to pass it on to me, not I have to say with greatest success, though I look back on that time with affection.

    I have no idea whether the two namesakes are or were related. The one to whom the obituary and over a decade's association refers, did not I believe, have an interest in carnivorous plants so much as he did in herbivorous equines - besides of course the numerous carnivorous friends with whom he spent his time.

    They however appear to share a certain English eccentricity and talent that has made them both, distinctive and memorable.


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