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Date: 15/04/04

Diane Morris

Diane Morris died last week.

The name may mean nothing to you, dear reader. But she was a colleague of mine for some years, and lost her long battle against cancer a week ago.

Do you sometimes find yourself raging against the malevolence of Fate; or blind, random chance; or even god if you're of that persuasion? Why her, when someone like ................ is still alive and getting paid?

I left that space for two reasons: firstly to enable you to fill in the blank with the name of the unworthy person of your choice; and secondly, to avoid being uncharitable.

Di was never uncharitable. She always seemed to live by the principles of 'do as you would be done by', and 'if you can help someone as you pass this way, do it'.

My ham-fisted way of expressing myself might lead you to think that this made her a dull person. She most emphatically was not; she had the happy knack of a natural, totally sincere cheerfulness, which was readily transmitted to those around her. Even during her illness, she would come in to the office and have us smiling with her tales of what happened when, say, she went to have her wig fitted. In fact, when I think of her, I think first of her smile.

Behind all this was a solid and genuine concern for her friends and colleagues. She always seemed to be there in the right way at the right time. When my mother died a few years back, she and a few other colleagues visited me at home. There was no need for her to do this - they had never even met, although I think they'd have got on very well if they had. But Diane did it anyway - it had to be that way - and she also attended the funeral.

And that's why I feel more than moderately guilty about not joining the deservedly large crowd at her funeral this morning. I could plead all sorts of reasons, none of which would be more than 25% true. The truth is that I know that I would have found it too much. I hope Di would have understood; she was tolerant as well.

Goodbye, Diane: we remember, now and always.