Diane Middleton, whose married name was Watts, has died at the age of 73 after a short illness. Di worked on the Observer twice in the 1970s, once as a secretary on the magazine and then later on the news desk working for both the foreign and home news editors. It was there I met her in 1978 and we became close friends. Many of you will remember her for her cheerful efficiency and lack of regard for any sort of pomposity. She had many friends at the Observer and could be quite fierce in the face of what she perceived as self-importance. Robin Lustig, with whom she worked at the Obs, has described her as a breath of fresh air and a force of nature. By the time she joined the paper Di, who left school at 15, had married, travelled the world (driving through, among other places, Afghanistan and Iran on her way to Australia) and had two children. She always seemed to me fearless, particularly when dealing with journalists used to getting their own way. She was curious about everything, a good trait when working at the Obs and when she left in 1983 she went to Middlesex Polytechnic to study Humanities. She graduated with an honours degree and went to work at the London Research Centre and from there to the GLA under Ken Livingstone.
She was born in Hackney and lived in East London until she retired from the GLA and moved to Margate. She studied yoga for 40 years and in retirement trained as a yoga teacher, teaching up until a few weeks before she died. Di was a committed fighter against injustice, racism and right-wing politics and a passionate supporter of LGBT rights. She had two grandchildren who adored her and though she did not spoil them she did give them a lot of freedom, which I’m told was only sometimes disastrous! She is survived by her children Nic and Emily and her grandchildren and they and her many, many friends – among them members of Fobs: Di was a loyal attender at the St Bride’s Tavern Christmas drinks – will miss her terribly.
Diane Middleton 6.8.1945 – 30.11.2018
Liz Oatts (née Clarke)