My dear friend Graeme has a particularly nasty brain tumour. I heard the news earlier this week and, although we are both over 70 and this kind of news is going to arrive more frequently, I am filled with shock as well as much sadness.

Our two families have been friends for three generations and I have known Graeme since we were small children.  We grew up in the same town, went to university together, stayed close friends when I got together with Chris.  Thereafter our contact has been spasmodic – letters, family get togethers, me attending a couple of his concerts . Because Graeme has spent his post-doctorate life in Cambridge, while I parted for Africa, Scotland and now France.

Graeme is one of the cleverest and most talented men I know – at Cambridge he has wandered between mathematics, biology and quantum physics, and at the same time plays the piano and performs at a professional level.  He is also kind, humorous, eloquent (on paper), modest and self-effacing.

What this news brings also is a sense of regret.  Why have I not made more of an effort to accept his invitations to go to his concerts, to nip up to Cambridge when visiting the children in London? It reinforces my appreciation that one has to work at obstacles like long distance or busy lives in order to see more of one’s lifelong friends. They deserve it, and their friendship enriches our lives.

I may not write much here about Graeme in the coming months.  But I find my thoughts return to him frequently as he currently undergoes radiotherapy and then faces the uncertain future thereafter.


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