This morning I learned via BioMedCentral that a friend had died. "Found hanged," which hints at suicide but presumably that must await a coroner's verdict. It feels horrible. 1

Much will probably be said about John Clark; at least it ought to be. And I'm remembering all sorts of incidents that perhaps ought to be left unsaid. One thing, though. He had vision.

We studied zoology together, and everyone that year agreed that molecular biology was boring. Dull stuff, filling in obscure biochemical pathways, interminable waits, forever out of our reach. Not John. He was the one person, as far as I am aware, who went into molecular biology. This was the year after restriction enzymes had been discovered, a couple of years before molecular biology exploded.

We went to do our respective PhDs, his after an MSc. And when we got together again, over a pint of heavy in Edinburgh, I was a journalist at New Scientist. I asked him what he'd been up to. He told me. And he made the molecules sing. For hours, it seemed, he gave me a crash course in what was happening in molecular biology. He brought it to life for me, and encouraged me to write a book, explaining the science for others as he had explained it to me.

Later, as both our careers developed, he was never less than totally helpful, professional when needed, a friend when needed. Even though we hadn't seen each other in a few years, I shall miss him.

10 September 2016: I still do.

  1. This is one of the hardest of my old pieces that I've had to edit. Partly because so many of the original links have vanished -- which seems somehow inappropriate -- and also because I know how much I still owe John. I've removed almost all the links. Anyone who wants to can research further themselves. 

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