Much has been written here about Norman Geras’ politics and the influence he had on people. It’s where I first got to know about him too, but it was in that huge hinterland of his other interests where we got to know one another.
It shouldn’t have come as any surprise: after all, he’d warned us in so many words, that he was headin’ for the last round-up. But it was still a shock today, when the news came through – it felt like losing a a best friend or even a family member with an illness that you’d known all along could only have one ending. This despite the fact that we’d never properly met and only ever corresponded by email or via his occasional BTL comments here.
I will be writing more in days to come about this complex, inspiring human being. His pioneering blog, brim-full of gentle humour and searing honesty, remains as a permanent memorial. But for now, I’ll simply recommend Nick Cohen’s heartfelt tribute at the Spectator‘s website…
… and play some jazz (a shared enthusiasm, though Norm loved all sorts of music, including – to my horror – country ‘n’ western):
This version of ‘Ghost of A Chance’ recorded by tenorist Illinois Jacqet in 1968 was Norm’s gift to me, when I had the honour of being the subject of one of his many ‘profiles’ of fellow-bloggers. I’m playing it now, and thinking of him.
There is one less champion of democratic thought in the world today. Norman Geras has passed. A friend and role model, Norm visited NYC in May 2012 and I had the great pleasure of spending an afternoon with him. We visited the 9/11 Memorial together, a powerful experience for us both. We shared a snack across from Zuccotti Park, boarded an insanely crowded uptown train and soon parted ways, for the last time. (I’m linking to his post about the Memorial visit.) Norm graciously featured me twice on his widely read Normblog, and those opportunities meant the world to me. He was wry (in that British way), decent, fiercely intelligent and principled, an unshakable ally and a passionate fan of jazz. I can’t yet bear the thought of his loss and I’ll be posting links [on his Facebook page — Ed.] to more tributes in the days to come.