Why do I look at obituaries? To admire people I will now never meet? To remind me to stop procrastinating? To feel the glow of admiration at other people’s successes?
Occasionally, though, there is that stab of sadness when you turn the page and see someone who has helped you at a certain stage of your life.
In 1999, I was accepted on to a Masters in Creative Writing in Film and TV at Sheffield University. So pregnant, I could hardly walk up the hill, I postponed my course for a year. When I resumed in 2000, I found the stars were coming out to teach us. The late Jack Rosenthal was a tutor, likewise the master of TV adaptation, Andrew Davies. Steve Attridge had written for children’s and adult TV. The only woman and, perhaps, the least well-known, was Olwen, who died on Monday, aged 81.
Olwen was assigned as my tutor, and, as luck would have it, lived a mere thirty minute bus ride away. I was juggling a job, a young baby and one of the best – and most expensive – opportunities to improve my writing I’d had. She let me into her splendid haven up Parliament Hill and devoted time helping me, not only on my MA script, but with a radio script I was trying to write. She kept urging me to watch the film ‘You Can Count On Me’, as she felt it would help me find ways to say the things I wanted to say.
With Olwen’s encouragement, I achieved a Distinction for my Masters.
I still haven’t seen the film. Now, I must.