So Glad I Met the Late Sir John Mortimer
January 21, 2009
by Suzan Abrams
Very sorry to read - I have been sadly out of touch with things being in a different country - that Sir John Clifford Mortimer, the once popular barrister, screenwriter and novelist of the famous Rumpole stories passed away a few days ago. I have read all of the Rumpole books but most of all, enjoyed the scenes with his wife in which the fictional longsuffering character simply termed his nag of a beloved, as She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed.
It all reminds me of a younger version of the popular television character, Sir John Deed, a talented judge who often juggled problems with his ex-wife. The illustrious comic novelist was 85 when he passed away last Friday.
I must also say how glad I am that I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with the great gentleman himself one morning when he was wheeled in to the Hatchards bookshop in Piccadilly, London, to sign our novels sometime in 2005.
I had the choice of if I wanted to make an early morning session of it and I'm glad now that I caught the tube on time. The silver-haired writer sat snuggled in a wheelchair, looked terribly frail but was absolutely cheery. He was already poorly at the time and sat wrapped in a blanket. Of course, it helped that he was surrounded by a highly affectionate audience. The gifted dramatist could strike up a fine conversation even then, asked me some questions on Asia and offered contributions to the subject of travel.
I was the only Asian present among his loyal British audience, in any case so it was easy to catch his interest. I remember him as with a sanguine complexion, pint-sized, kindly, gentle and welcoming. He also wore no dentures which made his mostly toothless smile, benevolent.