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Thank you, Catherine

Monday, 16 March 2015

This is Catherine - one of the first people to support my book with a pledge on Unbound.

Our children go to the same school, and our houses are close to each other, and over the years we've spent a lot of time together, on public transport to and from school - or walking - and in each other's kitchens.

In 2010, Catherine was one of the friends who came to the launch party for my book Sew Your Own. When my next book, How To Change The World, came out, Catherine was one of the first to give me an encouraging response. This year, I published The Family Project (with my wife Harriet Green) and we took care to give Catherine one of the advance copies.

When I started to work again on What If The Queen Should Die?, after it had lain in a drawer for years, Catherine was one of the few people I discussed it with.

In other words, Catherine has been the kind of intelligent supporter that a writer can only dream of – but more than that she has been a dear friend, in so many ways, and I wanted to put that on record here because last week Catherine died.

We're all terribly upset and sad – for ourselves, but most of all for her husband and four lovely and talented children.

You might be thinking, that's awful – but why write about it here?

Because Catherine was a brilliant woman, with a sharp sense of humour, and a keen writer herself. She was part of a group working together for mutual encouragement – sharing passages of work with each other as they moved towards completing a book.

On those walks home from Golders Green tube station, we often talked about Catherine's writing – among her many other creative pursuits - and I encouraged her to finish her novel. I remember she allowed me to set her a deadline to finish it by last May. But the date passed, and the book was not finished, and I didn't mention it any more because I wasn't sure if she wanted any more pushing.

I don't know if Catherine got close to finishing her book. I hope she did – perhaps only falling victim to nerves towards the end, as she realised that she might now have to Do Something with it. Perhaps, between us, her family and friends might do something about publishing it. I have absolutely no doubt about Catherine's ability.

But I also realise that my hopes may be unrealistic. Maybe the book is no more than half-written.

If that's the case, I only hope that it's not because she lacked encouragement. Was there anything more I might have done to push her, gently? Writers (and other artists) need encouragement. It takes a lot of gumption to put anything out there at all. As well as the many other - much more important - things that Catherine did for so many other people, she gave me that encouragement. Thank you, Catherine.

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Comments

David Nolan
David Nolan says:

A lovely tribute. We should more frequently take the opportunity to recognise the people who matter to us while they are still around to hear it. Of course, those of us who are English might feel awkward about doing so. By the same token, I'm not a great admirer of latching on to strangers' tragedies, but despite that it feels wrong to end this comment without, whatever it may (or may not) be worth, offering condolences to Catherine's family.

March 16, 2015

John-Paul Flintoff
John-Paul Flintoff says:

Thank you David. You're very kind. I've been struck, looking back over my emails and texts from Catherine, how much good stuff was in there - and also struck that, as you suggest, I don't tend to do that looking back in relation to the people who are still here.

It might take a long time, re-reading emails and texts from everybody, but how nice to notice how lucky we are in our friends...

March 16, 2015

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Publication date: April 2016
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