Alison Howarth RIP.

I was shocked to learn today of the death of my former politics teacher at the ripe age of sixty, entirely unexpected after a few weeks of non-critical bad health. I posted something roughly like this on Facebook, and it’s really true: I think it’s probably far too easy to underestimate and under-appreciate the impact teachers can have on us during our formative years. All I know is that her teaching me coincided with my rise from being utterly politically ignorant and indifferent to having the knowledge and passion (especially of and for the often infuriating United States) that I do today. Who knows how many seeds were sown and which flowers blossomed out of those very early days. My successful admission to Oxford? My eventual deep affection for Springsteen? I’m sure I’ll be more subtly indebted to her influence than I’ll ever know.

I saw her for what turned out to be the final time outside Waitrose one afternoon this August, and she was keen to hear of my career plans. If I’d known I wouldn’t see her again, I would have conveyed what I’ve written here. It really shouldn’t take death for us to explicitly recognise our appreciation of people. I hope that I learn from this regret.

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