John Gardner at Home

Memories from Ben Brown

Dear Jenny,

These are some of the memories I have of John.

No need to reply.

Love and more,


The sheer joy and excitement of going to All Souls to have one-on-one tutorials in moral and political philosophy with John when he was a Junior Research Fellow there in 1990. John made it such fun and never had I loved work so much. Almost immediately we became friends.

When I did the BCL, I chose all the philosophical and human rights options John taught so he was my tutor for 3 out of 4 subjects. John would always say when reminding me of things we’d already discussed “yeah ... so this is familiar”, before moving on to the next step.

I managed to run out of petrol and had to stay the night in a service station car park in Telford before my Jurisprudence and Political Theory essays deadline but when I rang John in a panic from the phone box he just laughed and told me not to worry and that he’d explain everything and simply tell the proctors at Schools I’d be a couple of hours late.

Singing Smoke Gets in Your Eyes round the piano in a beautiful old Tuscan Villa that belonged to a friend of John’s in 1994. I think we also sang These Foolish Things.

Going to dinner in his flat in Crouch End for the first time and then with Jenny in the mid-90s and John saying he didn’t know if he’d ever have children. I’m so glad he has.

John coming to dinner alone with us in London and telling me on the sofa that he’d fallen in love with you.

Going to John’s inaugural lecture, The Mark of Responsibility, at the Bodleian when John became Professor of Jurisprudence, following the great HLA Hart and Ronald Dworkin.

Going to your wonderful wedding at Univ with Jenny and the children.

Walking back from Durdle Door with John, Henrik and David in one of their trips to stay with us in Dorset.

John bringing the ingredients and making pizzas.

Seeing John for coffee in All Souls followed by Annika singing with her school in the Ashmolean.

Having dinner in that Slovakian restaurant with John, you and Audra.

But most of all, I remember the laughter.