‘One of my favourite things about Stephen Hawking is that he was mean to all the right people’
Stephen Hawking has died, aged 76.
A mercurial theoretical physicist and cosmologist he was also deeply political.
In the biography Stephen Hawking: An Unfettered Mind Kitty Ferguson wrote about the scientist’s mischievous habit of using his wheelchair to run over the toes of those who incurred his wrath, including Prince Charles.
In 1977, Prince Charles’ feet were crushed beneath Hawking’s wheels during the royal’s induction into the Royal Society. “The prince was intrigued by Hawking’s wheelchair, and Hawking, twirling it around to demonstrate its capabilities, carelessly ran over Prince Charles’s toes … People who annoyed him, it was said, found themselves a target.”
But the crowning moment was someone who escaped wheel-based justice, not a victim.
Ferguson wrote: “One of Hawking’s regrets in life was not having an opportunity to run over Margaret Thatcher’s toes.”
When asked about the claim, Hawking made an unconvincing denial. “A malicious rumour,” he told Ferguson. “I’ll run over anyone who repeats it.”
Sharing the quote on Twitter Ashley Feinberg said: “One of my favourite things about Stephen Hawking is that he was mean to all the right people.”
one of my favorite things about stephen hawking is that he was mean to all the right people pic.twitter.com/7jd3vLp5ql
— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) March 14, 2018
Before his passing, Hawking was given permission to challenge Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in the high court over plans to allow private companies to play a greater role in the NHS.
He warned that introducing commercial companies to run parts of the health and social services would amount to an “attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS.”