The pandemic has sharpened our awareness of mortality. During the longueurs of lockdown I’ve found memories resurfacing of people and their remarks from long ago. One such remark came from my thickly bearded music master, John Baird, a distinguished Wagnerian and conductor. He mused to his class of teenagers following the death of a parent: “You realise that the queue for the ticket booth is thinning out in front of you.”
As you grow older so inevitably the losses mount up – grandparents, uncles and aunts, parents and then, just a shocking few drops at first, those who were your friends in their own right rather than through family connections.
Mentors are the most senior of these friends of one’s own. As I push on into what my late mother would helpfully call “your seventh decade” – I’m sixty-two this month – I have now run out of living mentors.