2009 was in most ways a very bad year for me. Apart from a nine-month struggle with my health, a message came, just before Christmas, from a friend in Australia:
"...I'm afraid to have to pass on the sad news that Stan passed away last Thursday night. After spending about 6 months in Tobago he was in New Zealand for the Tests against Pakistan. Staying at one of his favourite places in Wellington he had a suspected heart-attack during the night and died in his bed. I'm sure that this would have been one of his preferred ways of leaving us. I just can't imagine Stanley having a long illness, being in a home etc so this would have suited him just fine I'm sure. The day before he was still jogging the streets on Wellington and I've no doubt he was pounding the dance floors that evening too..."
Stanley was 72, or maybe slightly older. At least, I remember sending greetings for his seventieth birthday a couple of years ago. We never met in the flesh, having being 'introduced' over the internet by the same friend who sent the sad news; but Stan did ask me to meet him several times, when he was in Europe: to show me round his London Club (The Oxford and Cambridge, I think) and once to share a pizza at the budget hotel in the south of France where he was spending the summer. He had no base or family left in England. We had a daily correspondence going at one time. Stan spoke seven languages, once for each day of the week. I had run out by Wednesday or Thursday but kept it up heroically for a while, trying to call his bluff. He wrote poetry, as well as various articles on cricket, and emerged (in my reading) as something of a Romantic, in a buccaneering, Byronic, experience-chasing way, which the lines about him from my friend would seem to bear out. I never experienced Stanley doing his thing on the global Test cricket circuit, which was maybe a good thing since I think I would have liked that side of him less. Meeting him, I suppose, would have meant one of two things: disappointment or consolidation - but of what, though: a correspondence conducted in the ether where words have a different significance perhaps from those that come out of the mouth? The air is full of sound waves, radio waves, unseen impulses. The Stan I knew is still among them.