15 NOVEMBER 1997, Page 28

. . . a seamless mind

MICHAEL thought seamlessly when so many of his contemporaries were keeping their ideas in watertight compartments. Up at Oxford, he had met the chief of the Washugga tribe, who was driving a Rolls- Royce and sounds like a Balliol man to me. This encounter prompted Michael, as an academic anthropologist, to spend two years in Washugga country on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. When he came to the City he was repelled by its cooking, which in those days featured custard. So he and his friends backed a pair of chefs who had cooked for the Rothschilds in London and Paris. He was the financial intellect behind the rise of Michel and Albert Roux to fame and stardom, as their restaurants won and kept an absolute majority of all the Miche- lin stars awarded in this country. Looking for a site for his bank's back office, he went to see a dusty dockside warehouse which had once held tomatoes, shipped from the Canaries. It occurred to him that he should leave the back office where it was and move the front office instead. By the time this happened he had, sensibly, changed banks. From New York last year he called me to say that he had a hole in his head, after an operation for a tumour, brought on, so his doctors had told him, by long-distance flights and mobile telephones. He recov- ered and came back to academic life, as President of Templeton College, Oxford, but the tumour recurred and has killed him. There was and is no one like him.