Sunday, June 20, 2010

andy ripley RIP

Really sad to learn that Andy Ripley, former England rugby union international, died last week from prostate cancer at the age of just 62. Although I never met him, my claim to fame is that I slept in his waterbed (he wasn’t in it, I hasten add)! It was probably 1974(?) and Moira+I were staying in London with our friend Joan (from our Oxford college days). She was living in the same house as Ripley at the time and he allowed us to use his bed. Not sure how she’ll feel about this, but I suppose Moira can probably claim she is the only woman who slept in his bed and with whom he didn’t have sex! Actually, there were probably lots of women who just wanted to sleep in his waterbed at the time….
The England no.8 was an absolute hero of mine – even in the poor England team of the early-/mid-1970s. He was 6ft 5in tall, with flowing locks streaming out of a headband, knees pumping almost up his chest and the ball under his arm. Someone once wrote “Ripley in full flight will remain forever an image to brighten the day” and that’s exactly the image I have of him. I’ve seen him described as the last of the great Corinthian sportsmen who just played sport (rugby, athletics, rowing, triathlon, swimming and sailing!) for fun – with an intellect to boot (“a man with a brain like Einstein and a pen like Shakespeare”).
In the foreword to his 2007 book on cancer, he wrote: “Dare we hope? We dare. Can we hope? We can. Should we hope? We must, because to do otherwise is to waste the most precious of gifts, given so freely by God to all of us. So when we do die, it will be with hope and it will be easy and our hearts will not be broken.
They don’t make them like him any more.

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