It is with great regret and much sadness that I have to report that Hugh Langford has died. His partner, Marion, phoned me last night to inform me that he passed away on Sunday. In the end it was all rather sudden.
Hugh had not considered his prospects for a long life good, right from when he was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus two years ago. He was determined, however, to try to enjoy life as much as possible.
He certainly pursued his interests with incredible vigour, especially considering how he must have been feeling much of the time. Like me, he was not a man of faith and believed very much in living life to the full, the way he wanted. Thus he continued right to the very end – last week, Marion tells me, he went flying (paragliding) one day, cycling another.
If any of you had heard him play he was an impressive guitarist, so it’s wonderful to know that they played music together on Saturday.
Perhaps we can draw the conclusion that that was a pretty impressive final week – and quite a bit more than many of us do in good health. He certainly didn’t want to become incapacitated. He would only have wished to sit around watching his beloved cricket for some of the time!
When I first encountered Hugh I must confess to finding him a bit grumpy, maybe brusque, testy even. Essentially a very private person, he didn’t wear his heart on his sleeve and I expect others, too, might have found him not easy to get to know. I’m glad I did though. The initially-perceived cantankerousness quickly became evident as erudition, shrewdness and tenacity.
Aside from possessing a huge intellect and knowledge on a range of subjects he was rather a good wit, too. I’ve spent quite a bit of
time in his company – and last visited him about a month ago – and he was incredibly well-humoured to the last. Courage and stoicism hardly come into it.
He’s taught me so many things, from batting strategies to points of grammar to the finest blues musicians. On the latter, for example, he let me know that “the blues should be played with a smile on your face.”
If you didn’t know our former Branch Secretary (of Dewsbury College, then Kirklees College, and going back to NATFHE days) then you should know that we will never again see such a committed union comrade. Our branch is, I hope, stronger today because of what I, and others, learnt from his skilful negotiating on collective issues and abilities in representing individual members. I will miss him enormously.
Raise your UCU mug, or glass of something later, to our much-missed colleague.