Just before I leave for Oxford, the heartbreakingly sad news of the death of the poet and critic Michael Murphy, younger by a good twenty years than I am, of a brain tumour. Michael had been ill a long time - but this only makes it worse. Far fewer people will have heard of Michael than of, say, U. A. Fanthorpe, but his late poems are magnificent, as good as anything written in these isles, and I fully intend saying so. Michael's partner is the poet Deryn Rees-Jones. They have two very young very bright children. Oh life, life. How dreadful it can be. Sweet, gentle, good, passionate man.