Joe Bennett: My friend’s lonely death


In this column Joe Bennett reflects on the death of an old friend and then moves to a wider issue. Bennett makes us consider whether present laws regarding assisted suicide for the terminally ill are right. Read the whole column here.

I was going to write about the arrest of Justin Bieber. But I’ve just learned how a friend and former teacher died, and Bieber has shrunk from view.

Valerie taught me at university 35 years ago. I was studying English, though studying may be overstating it. In my first week I went to five lectures, but in the next three years I went to none. So my only appointment in any given week was an hour with my academic supervisor.

I had several of these in my first two terms. There was a nervous medievalist in slip-on shoes; a renaissance scholar who burned incense in her room; an idle modernist who purported to teach critical theory but who rarely read a book and never read my essays. I didn’t get on with any of them, and they, perhaps more pertinently, did not get on with me.

In my third term I was farmed out to Valerie. We got on so well that she remained my supervisor for the next two years and a friend for the next 30.


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