AA Gill wrote in his final article that he had the ‘full English of cancers’ and ‘the NHS represents everything we think is best about us.’
In his restaurant column three weeks earlier, he wrote of “an embarrassment of cancer”. “There is barely a morsel of offal that is not included. I have a trucker’s gut-buster, gimpy, malevolent, meaty malignancy,”
A magnificent collection of visual images that open up your soul. I was so sorry to know that his language which danced across the Sunday Times might be curtailed. He died on 10th December 2016 on the day I finished his brilliant book, Pour Me.
Years earlier I heard him speak at a chef’s symposium, where he teased the audience that they worked anti social hours, in a rubbish job, appalling environment and were badly paid. He on the other hand earned £150,000 a year working 3 sociable days a week.
During the coffee break he stood alone as the chefs semicircled away from him in frustration or anger. I watched his isolation, then sidled up and asked how he found so many boat race words when he was writing about a Putney restaurant by the river Thames, I felt naive and stupid against his fierce intelligence.
Years later he sat on the banquette next to me at the Dean Street Townhouse. He’d written that his favourite dish there was mince and potatoes, so that was my choice too.
‘Nice coat’ he commented on my pink and yellow, antique Ikat outfit.
‘It’s from some country ending in ..stan, like Kazakhstan’ I replied.
‘Don’t think so – it’s Uzbekistan.’ were his final words.
I wore the coat again at the Royal Academy and in the coffee queue, a lady commented on its beauty.
‘AA Gill said it’s from Uzbekistan’ I told her.
The woman in front of me turned round. ‘He was always right about things like that. I know, I am his mother.’
We gasped and shared our loss – mine of his writing – hers of her son. How I would have loved to share some memories with her but we parted in the politeness of the RA members room.