Monday, May 03, 2004

Angela Vivian

Just over a year ago, I wrote here "I had the good fortune this week to spend some time with Angela Vivian down in Somerset. Angela styles herself TOL, or "The Old Lunatic", although I'd see the world a much saner place if we all had half of her wisdom, energy and passion" I am deeply saddened to say that today Angela passed away after a very short battle against cancer. I spoke to Angela last only 10 days ago when she had heard, for the first time, that she was unwell and some urgent tests were required. At the time she was a little despondent - the news had come from nowhere - but she was a fighter. It seems though that no matter how strong you are, there are some things that you cannot fight. Cancer is a brutal illness that we are not doing enough to counter. I will miss Angela enormously. Once or twice a week she sent me a collection of press cuttings, always being careful not to send items from magazines or papers that she knew I read. She supplemented my inbox with enormous piles of information, always annotated with comments about the individuals concerned or the projects mentioned. Her words were often biting, but she spoke from the heart - it was her passion and ideals that she was defending. She sent so much that I could never keep up, so every couple of weeks I opened the envelopes and worked my way through them, knowing that inside each there would often be a card containing some pithy words. Where she found the time to do this - for I know that she sent such missives to many - I have no idea. I spoke to Angela once a week or so and had lunch with her at least once a month if I could, although recent events prevented me from seeing her for perhaps two months. I will forever regret the fact that I allowed business issues to get in the way of me spending time with someone who had the ability to fire me up and enthuse me with a desire to make a difference. I knew her too short a time. Angela made a difference. Wherever she went, she inspired people, she challenged them and she made us all wonder how she managed to posess the energy and commitment she did. After 40 years in the Inland Revenue, Angela started a second career as an evangelist; she wired up wedmore and, recently, unwired it. Angela used to write me a note after each meeting thanking me for the 1800 seconds or so that I had spent with her. She was so busy, seeing so many people, that it was she who carved up her day into 30 minute chunks. To most of us 30 minutes is an appropriate block of time but, for Angela, it was the seconds that mattered. How many of us can say that we manage our lives to make the most of every second? When I first met Angela she told me that her tag was "TOL", or the "the old lunatic". I told her that I wished I could be like her and so, she named me "TAL" or "the aspiring lunatic". I will continue to aspire, but everything in me tells me that I will never achieve the heights that she did. Would that I could contribute half as much to the world as she did.

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