John Gardner at Home

Memories from John Tasioulas

Dear Jenny,

I was appalled to receive this message earlier today; you must all be devastated at this deeply cruel twist, just when we thought that John had escaped the clutches of this evil disease. All my thoughts, and those of Rebecca, are with John, you and the family at this incredibly difficult time. As I said when you first sent an email about John's condition, I have always known him to be a fighter, and unlike to so many fighters, someone who has constantly been fighting for the benefit of others. I still hope that this fighting spirit, this courage, this generous capacity to look beyond his own concerns and act for the good of others, will somehow see him through even this dark time.

You ask for stories, and I fear that I am a poor story-teller, but I had real occasion to remember just a few days ago a visit you and John paid us in Cambridge around 10 years ago. Con, who was not yet 8, and I had just spent the summer reading through the entire oeuvre of Goscinny & Uderzo (a.k.a. the Asterix & Obelix series). When we all went for that long walk to Grantchester, via the narrow pathway in Grantchester Meadows, Con spent the whole time enthusiastically peppering John with questions and observations about these books, and what was so memorable about this was not just John's formidable recall of the details of these works, which he shared with Con much to the latter's delight, but that John's good humour and kindness towards Con during this searching literary interrogation did not flag even for one second. I know that this was an occasion indelibly imprinted on Con's memory, and one that he and I have often recalled with joy, not least because it prefigured in some ways the outstanding and intense student of classics that Con was later to become.

Jenny - I just want to say Rebecca and I are here for you, John and the family, in whatever way we can be of assistance. We would love to see John, whenever he feels ready to receive visitors. I can think of nothing better that getting together over a glass of wine and talking about things that matter with you both - even Australian wine or, in light of John's generic description of Oz wine ('Two Tits Hill' etc), perhaps one of the great organic reds currently being produced by Mr Thymiopoulous in Aristotle's old stamping ground of Naoussa.

Thinking of you all, and sending all conceivable good vibrations.

Love and best wishes,