Our last meeting was in the Pullman Hotel in Paris in 1989, a crowded venue in which he, tall and gaunt, seemed like a carved figure from some bygone civilisation, aloof from the frenzied surroundings. He asked if I agreed that the air in his arrondissement was very clean and very fresh. I couldn’t in all honesty concur. The talk got around to the hereafter. I said I had a fine gravesite on an isolated island in the Shannon. After a short pause, it became clear that his remains were not bound for the cold mantled land. He told me how Donald McWhinnie had telephoned him from his deathbed, hoping for a word of wisdom.
“What did you tell him?”
“Not much,” was the hapless reply.