Friday, January 30, 2015

Walk Like A Giant

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bemz-7fofcs

Mamel died yesterday. He was two years younger than me, but he knew two hundred times more about the world than I did; or ever will. He was “our friendly and adventurous colleague”, as one of my students so accurately described him. Wherever there was danger or excitement to be found, you could be sure that Mamel would be there too. It was hard to imagine Mamel spending his summer holiday in Benidorm, Brighton or Biarritz when he could be risking his life in Baghdad, Beirut or Bombay. I gave him my copy of “Holidays in Hell” by P.J. O’Rourke. In return, he gave me his copy of “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. I loved “The Kite Runner”; and I immediately bought “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, which I loved even more. I doubt Mamel ever read “Holidays in Hell”; he didn’t need to.

I was privileged to be Mamel’s English teacher for the past ten years or so until he took early retirement just before Christmas. He never missed a class, unless the San Sebastián Film Festival was on; he never changed his folder; and he never studied his notes. In class, he never sat anywhere except next to me; he never complained about his appalling health problems; and he never uttered a boring sentence in his life.

He never took a selfie, either – to my knowledge at least – and more’s the pity. This is the only photo I could find of Mamel on the Net:


Rest in Peace, Mamel. The world is a far less colourful place without you, and I don’t care if that’s an overworn cliché. That said, I’m not sure you ever much cared for “resting” or “peace”, did you? So, I’ll sign off with a word which, I suspect, meant a lot more to you, and which you always used in your mails to your friends:

“Hugs”

Mike x

PS. I know you loved Neil Young, so I think you'd approve of my choice of title and song for this tribute. And if you don't, there's not much you can do about it now, is there? ;)

Postscript
A few weeks later, friends and family gathered to pay Mamel our last respects by planting a tree with his ashes in this beautiful spot on Monte Urgull:

(photo courtesy of Leire Maruri)

10 comments:

  1. Great post Mike! very touching...
    reading it while listening to the chosen song has been a pleasure... I'm sure Mamel would have loved it!
    Pretty sure too, that wherever he is, he's already made a lot of friends ... always with a smile in his face
    Enjoy the ride Mamel!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mikel! I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for your kind words and thoughts about Mamel. I couldn't agree with you more. Have an ice weekend :)

      Delete
  2. Mike that was a lovely tribute. He sounds like a fun kind of guy. I'm sad for your loss. Xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Tee, that's exactly right. It was impossible to be bored when Mamel was around. Thanks for reading and commenting xxx

      Delete
  3. Aw mate, a very touching post, very nicely written.
    RIP Mamel, if you managed to inspire my mate Mike, you'd have been alright with me; and your taste in literature was brill.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Reggie. Yes, Mamel had impeccable taste in literature, as you rightly observe. Hope you're keeping well. Thanks for taking the time to read these lines and leave a comment.

      Delete
  4. Thanks, Mike, you have describes Mamel to a T. He was our student and much more: he was our friend, a joy to be with. Mamel's unlimited curiosity about EVERYTHING from astronomy to the arts to the best gossip fuelled our best conversations. Not to mention his boundless humanity. Mamel is certainly a person we will never forget.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mary! I love your comment. Nothing to add :) xxx

      Delete
  5. Hi Mike, I'm Jon, Mamel's brother.Thank you for the post. It describes perfectly his life.
    And you are right,, he liked a lot Neil Young and The Crazy Horses ;-) (like him)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for dropping in, Jon. I'm so glad you were able to read these lines. Yes, Mamel was something of a crazy horse, wasn't he? We all loved him dearly, and delighted in his company. I'm so sorry for your loss, and I hope your family are coping under the circumstances. Hugs :)

      Delete