I’m sure many of you will know what it feels like to shift from the ballpark of losing your elders to the sad presence of death among those of your own generation, or thereabouts. Latest to leave me, at the age of 82, is my cousin Paul, who died this morning at 5 am, grandson to Simon and Leah, son to Donald and Frances, father to Joanna and wife to Frances (and Candy before her), much loved and respected by all (including numerous nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews), a probing thinker (Cambridge-educated, Christ College), ace saxophonist, jazz and film buff, voracious reader and above all, a funny, highly intelligent guy, as decent as he was kind.
Years ago, when I was in my early teens, I walked out on an early-sixties equivalent of a ‘rave’ – bored out of my mind and deafened by what passed as music – trotted off to a nearby (South Kensington) pub, bought myself a pint and glumly found a seat. I looked up and there, sitting opposite, was a smiling Paul Zec, just what I needed for my late-night doldrums. Within seconds we were deep in conversation, principally about Mozart, whose works Paul adored, particularly recordings of the piano concertos by Ingrid Haebler. Mozart remained a shared passion across the years, as did the Classics generally, and a love of books. We were forever swapping recommendations – some more successfully than others (our disagreements were always good-humoured) – and Paul’s love and knowledge of philosophy helped me in my own amateur studies. Frances was a relatively late romance and I must pay tribute to her unstinting dedication to Paul, as much in the recent, difficult phase (his illnesses included having both kidneys transplanted and vascular Parkinson’s) as in brighter days when they could both enjoy life to the full. They deserved each other and they both knew that. I loved Paul and will miss him terribly as will all who knew him well and relished his company.