Returning from holiday, I was so shocked and saddened to hear of the death of an old university boyfriend, Graham Joyce, the acclaimed and multi award-winning fantasy novelist.
Even though he’d been so poorly, it still knocked me for six.
Not just through keeping in touch the usual ways friends do, but also through Facebook and blog posts, he brought his fans with him through his journey with cancer, even sharing his insights about the way we talk about cancer in a Radio 4 interview. (Compare with my recent blog about language. To Have and To Hold – To Be or Not to Be.)
And we cared. We cared to know what was happening in his life and how he was coping. He knew this, which is why, I guess, he chose to share his journey so generously with us all.
And he cared too. He galvanised over 110 000 teachers, school governors, university lecturers and parents to sign his petition to David Cameron, to remove Michael Gove from office, after the removal of John Steinbeck and Harper Lee from the English Literature GCSE syllabus.
It seemed to do the trick! One month later, Michael Gove was replaced, in the cabinet reshuffle last July.
Very left-wing in his politics, I didn’t always agree with Graham’s outlook on life, but loved his passion, intellect and skill with the English language.
My claim to fame is the poem he wrote about me, which won a poetry contest, and the many songs we wrote together.
Many years ago, we were chatting on the ‘phone and I told him that despite moving house imminently, I reckoned I had just enough time to wrote one more song before the final packing, so send me some lyrics, quick. In the context of writing a chart-topping hit, I jokingly said, “You never know, this might be the one!”
To my astonishment, he told me the title of the lyrics he’d just written for me…
This Might be The One!
(22.10.54 – 09.09.14)