In the midst of life we are in death. On Friday 18 September I happened to come round a corner just in time to witness the death of a honeybee that hadn’t stopped to wonder what that eight-legged thing was doing apparently suspended in mid-air next to its desired flightpath. The resultant mortal combat was viciously quick. Now, as I begin this post on the 21st, I do so because news has just reached me of the death of Alan Deyermond, Professor Emeritus of Medieval Spanish Literature at Queen Mary University of London, Fellow of the British Academy and Corresponding Fellow of the Real Academia Española, who passed away in hospital after several months of illness, the day after I watched the bee die, 19th September.
I didn’t know Professor Deyermond well, I only met him at a conference I attended that he’d organised at Queen Mary University of London, at whose various incarnations he’d taught all his professional life, but even then he was full of energy, interest in other people’s work and a worship of accuracy forever warring with his strong spirit of fun. I imagine he would have been an excellent if sometimes scary teacher. His Wikipedia page, already suitably updated, has a bibliography that shows his importance was not just as a teacher, either, and that only tells a part of the story because, as well as not containing his articles, it doesn’t give much clue to the vast amount of work by others that he elicited, encouraged, edited and saw to publication in the Papers of the Medieval Hispanic Research Seminar series that he founded, including of course my own. He was a renowned man (the sort of person whom people get photographed with for their blogs). There aren’t enough people like Professor Deyermond, and now there is one fewer. Dammit.