I turned on the radio for the lunchtime news a few minutes ago, and was dismayed to hear the announcement of the death of Anthony Minghella at the age of 54.
I swore out loud, and scared the dog. Anthony and I were fellow students in Hull University's Drama Department, back in the mid-seventies. I'm not claiming that we were the closest of friends, but we shared a lot of the same classes and worked on some of the same productions, including an avant-garde French piece in which I was in drag and he was a frog who played the piano.
(I don't believe I've heard his musical abilities mentioned since, but he composed and played all the music for and in the show)
After graduation he returned to Hull to teach, and there began writing for the stage and making an immediate mark with his early radio work. He served an apprenticeship in TV drama that included script-editing Grange Hill and writing for Inspector Morse before going name-above-the-title with Truly, Madly, Deeply, after which there was no stopping the bugger.
We met up once in recent years. It was very brief. He was coming out of a meeting, and I was on my way into one. But I was able to tell him what a storming job I thought he'd done on The English Patient, and to offer him the compliment of healthy envy.
Right now I'm just glad I got the chance.