The news that Norman St John-Stevas had died took me back to my teenage years when the Tory politician was a household name. It evoked memories of the embattled early years of Margaret Thatcher's premiership when it seemed likely she'd not win a second term.
St John-Stevas was a flamboyant character - as all today's obituaries have highlighted - but he was fatally out of tune with his humourless leader. A subtler politician would not have irritated Thatcher with St John-Stevas's mocking references to the blessed Margaret and the Leaderene. Norman became just another clever political player who never fulfilled his potential.
Yet he left a far greater and more valuable legacy than hundreds of forgotten ministers. In 1979, St John-Stevas created the modern system of departmental select committees in the House of Commons. It was a striking blow in favour of parliamentary scrutiny of the executive. And a legacy that's even more vital today, given the growth in executive - and prime ministerial - power since 1979.