I've also just found out that Rick Arrandale died last month. He had been in a hospice for a while, and when I tried to write to him to tell him what he means to me and how much he inspired me, I found that I couldn't... so I sent him a dvd of Stewart Lee instead - not in a "look old chap, cheer up, here's something to make you smile," kind of way but just because I think Stewart Lee is Rick's cup of tea and because comedy is important to me and Sim and Stewart Lee is our favourite and I think I was trying to say, "here's something important to me," as a way of saying, "you're important to me too." Dumb, huh? But what else can you say?!?
Anyway, Rick was one of my lecturers at Canterbury Christ Church University (used to be Canterbury Christ Church University College - it's gone up in the world since I left!). He was a great pastoral help, navigating a lot of us through the turbulent times of early independence - you know, coming out, depression, drugs, screwing up, all kinds of things (not ALL of those were me!). He was incredible at supporting me academically as well, telling me that, actually, I was pretty good at this academia thing when I hadn't really "found myself" at school! He had a great laugh (more of a giggle, I guess you could say) and a lovely smile. He hardly ever shaved properly, and we loved that he really didn't seem to care what he looked like. I thought he was pretty hot, actually. Look at his lovely face... go on, look at that photo! Awww.
I remember during one lecture he made a reference to Royston Vasey. I was the only person who laughed and he said, "that's how you find the sickos in a crowd." Love it. (Follow this link if you don't know what Royston Vasey is - don't worry, it just means you aren't a sicko).
He introduced me to feminist theology, and goddess religions. He taught me about female genital mutilation on my twentieth birthday - nice. He made me a feminist (although the roots of that, involving a predilection to Wide Sargasso Sea over Jane Eyre - reclamation of silenced history and all that - can be traced back). His general accepting/indifferent outlook also helped me accept other aspects of myself (those roots go back to watching Mrs Potiphah through binoculars at the theatre and wondering whether anyone else was watching her instead of Phillip Schofield!). He also introduced me to mythology, mysticism, the New Age, and Jungian psychoanalysis, and humoured me through a jumbled dissertation that magically transformed itself under his tutelage into a feminist interpretation of the Perceval myth.
He was incredibly important to a lot of us at university... Janine, Ellie, Rachel, Pamela, me... You know, the ones with the problems!!!
He was all the more cooler for leaving uni after we graduated and moving to Glastonbury where he ran academic tours round... well, the tor - and other stuff, I'm sure but that was an obvious joke to make. At the Isle of Avalon Foundation, Rick introduced university students to the history, mythology and sacred sites of Glastonbury. The Isle's homepage reads:
The Directors and Staff of the Isle of Avalon Foundation regret to inform you that our Chairman, Rick Arrandale, passed over peacefully on 27th June 2008 after a long illness. We will remember him for his passion and enthusiasm for the Foundation and its students. We will all miss him. The Isle of Avalon Foundation would lke to extend our deepest sympathies to Rick's family and friends for their tragic loss.