John Gardner at Home

Memories from Stephen Gough

Dear John

I am ashamed how long it has been since I spoke to you, and that it is only in these circumstances that I do speak to you. I learned of your illness a couple of days ago from Julie Dickson, who also suggested these email addresses as the best way to get in touch. I hope that you do not mind me writing after all this time.

First and foremost I wanted to thank you, John, for your kindness in helping me to find my feet all those years ago at BNC. As a young man from an ordinary background, Oxford was an alien and perhaps slightly frightening place, but you were from the start a friendly and encouraging presence. I feel so lucky to have arrived at BNC when you and John Davies were in post; had I arrived at a different college, with different personalities, my Oxford career would have been much less happy, and probably a lot shorter. I well remember you talking me down from a particularly self-indulgent wobbly-lip episode shortly before one of my BCL exams; fortunately you succeeded, although I think you’d have frog-marched me to the exam in person if I hadn’t relented. Your brilliance was an inspiration from the start, but I am grateful also for your generosity with your time and encouragement throughout the long slog of my DPhil, and your guidance with my few publications. I look back on these achievements with great pride, and in the knowledge that none of them would have been possible without your support.

I’m so sorry that you are facing this illness. It’s rotten luck that you do not deserve, and I hope, and will pray to anybody’s god, that it changes for the better. Please accept my thoughts and well-wishes for you and your family.

With gratitude and all best wishes

Steve Gough