So many people have said it and will say it: Norm made me try to think better and more honestly. I’ve been wondering why I always felt he was rather older than me, although he was born only five years earlier. I realised just now, it’s because he was wise. Gifts like his are rare and precious.
His private kindnesses don’t need to be shared in public, but it’s right and true to say that he was a lovely man as well as a clever man and an upright man. I’m grateful that he invited me onto normblog to write about a book I love and a Test match I remember. His generosity overflowed into so many areas.
As I thought about Norm, two earlier writers came into my mind.
One is Dr Johnson talking to Boswell:
“My dear friend, clear your mind of cant…You may talk in this manner; it is a mode of talking in Society: but don’t think foolishly.”
The other is George Orwell writing about Dickens:
“He is laughing, with a touch of anger in his laughter, but no triumph, no malignity. It is the face of a man who is always fighting against something, but who fights in the open and is not frightened, the face of a man who is generously angry—in other words, of a nineteenth-century liberal, a free intelligence, a type hated with equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls.”
An eighteenth-century Tory, a nineteenth-century liberal, a twentieth-century socialist—we remember them because of their humanity, because of their integrity and because they wrote so well. Now Norm has joined them.