This was how Clive Crickmer, a former Mirror journalist and ex-colleague who died last week, described my late husband in a letter he wrote to me shortly after Malc’s death in 1991. It’s an indication of Clive’s brilliant way with words that I can think of no better ones now to describe the man himself. Yesterday, 20 years to the day since Malc’s memorial service, Ian and I were privileged to be among the 400 or so people who gathered at South Shields Crematorium for Clive’s funeral.
He had been diagnosed with lung cancer just a few weeks earlier, but no-one imagined he would die so suddenly: we’d all thought the treatment he was receiving might prolong his life by at least a few more years. So everyone was shocked and saddened and I can’t have been on my own in reflecting on the unfairness of life. Clive was 71, a ‘good age’ – whatever that means – but he had so much more living to do: a funny, kind, active man still writing for his local paper well into his retirement from national newspapers, still caring for his family, still keeping his old mates and ex-colleagues informed about each others’ well-being. Clive was the one who sent us all emails whenever someone was ill, or indeed had died. Just a few weeks ago he’d written to tell us of another friend’s admission to hospital – mentioning only as an afterthought his own illness, and expressing the hope that the treatment he was about to start would allow him to ‘chug along for a year or three yet.’ It wasn’t to be.
So, all in all, Wednesday should have been the saddest of days. It wasn’t: it was a true celebration of a life well-lived by a man who was greatly loved. His local rugby club, where the wake was held, was buzzing with the chat and laughter of hundreds of people who’d enjoyed, in one form or another, the privilege of knowing a truly remarkable human being. Ian had a particular reason for wanting to be there. Clive had said to me so often: “You must bring that new man of yours to meet me so we can have a few jars.” I promised I would but never found the time, somehow, and now it was too late. “I never got chance to say hello so the next best thing is to say goodbye,” was Ian’s way of putting it.
RIP, Clive. You were, as so many people said, a lovely man.


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