Last month my A-Level politics teacher dropped dead. Of the three lecturers I had at college, only one’s now still alive, and in the last week I’ve been thinking about the two that aren’t.
At the time, I took them completely for granted. I liked them, more than enough to want to keep in touch with them after I left, but in both cases I didn’t – I assumed they would be around forever. There was no rush to get back in contact, because they would always be there. And I only appreciated how much they’d impacted my life until after they were dead.
Benjamin died first. He taught me second year English Literature from 2008 to 2009, and was a kind, happy, sweet-natured man who brought gasket-blowing enthusiasm and an almost childlike sense of wonder to everything he did.
He was posh, floppy-haired and sheltered – his innocence and thorough-going ignorance of the modern world could range from quaint and endearing to borderline frightening. He was so utterly devoid of cynicism you worried someone would scam him or harm him or otherwise take advantage of his unsullied good nature. Sometimes I wondered how he’d made it to his late thirties without exposure to the grittier realities of life. Occasionally, it was annoying. More often than not, it made him an exceptionally pleasant person to be around. Continue reading