Love, life …and death
Friday, February 17, 2017
Without wishing to appear maudlin, Jo Francis suggests we should all think a bit more about mortality
It may seem a bit odd to be writing about the not-so-cheery subject of death in a week when when it’s all been hearts and flowers, but bear with me on this.
Some of the comments around the recent deaths of musician George Michael and journalist AA Gill gave me pause for thought.
After the outpouring of appreciation for the singer-songwriter that followed news of his death, Gary Lineker weighed in with this tweet: “Wouldn’t it be lovely if death gave us a day’s notice so giants like George Michael could see how much they were revered and adored.”
While I can see some potential impracticalities with this idea, I completely agree with the sentiment.
And the Guardian journalist Hadley Freeman wrote a piece about AA Gill lamenting the fact that despite having had the opportunity, she’d never actually told him what an inspiring person he had been to her, under the headline ‘AA Gill’s fearless journalism was an inspiration – so why didn’t I tell him that?’
By contrast, and putting aside the eyebrow-raising tributes from the very tabloids that had put the boot in when he was England manager, I don’t think the late Graham Taylor could have been under any misapprehension whatsoever about how much he was revered by Watford fans, at least.
These various happenings put me in mind of a personal regret. Esteemed PrintWeek columnist Lawrence Wallis died suddenly in 2008. I don’t doubt that he knew that the PrintWeek team adored him. But did we ever really tell him how much he was appreciated? How much we delighted in his incredible knowledge about printing history? His quirky sense of humour? That we loved it when he popped in to PrintWeek Towers to see us? That he was an inspiration to us? I don’t think we did.
I read a book recently that contained the line “It is said that to lead our lives as if they will go on forever is the most common human vanity”.
Many people will know what it feels like to lose a loved one, friend or colleague without warning. So while I’m happy to ignore the inescapable fact of my own mortality, I plan to put a bit more effort into letting the special people in my life know how much I appreciate them while they’re still around to hear it.