By Jenni Frazer
March 4, 2010
In one of those rare moments of serendipity this morning, I was actually stuck in traffic at the corner of the Vale of Health, in Hampstead, where Michael Foot used to live, while Radio 4 was broadcasting another tribute to the late great Labour leader.
Michael Foot died yesterday, aged 96. Among the many memories of him, revived today and yesterday, was, of course, the fact that while kind, courteous and exquisitely polite, he was also a militant atheist. Michael Foot despised organised religion, his or anyone else's. His religion was socialism.
Nevertheless, I used to see him, from time to time, walking his dog on Hampstead Heath, and, occasionally, moving as anonymously as he could manage in and around Hampstead and Golders Green. The best thing about Michael Foot, in my opinion, was that he was always happy to stop and talk, even if he did not know his interlocutor from a hole in the wall. He liked people, and was ready to engage.
So when, in the week that his beloved wife Jill Craigie died, I spotted him in Hampstead, I couldn't help myself. I went over, introduced myself, and told him that in Judaism we had a tradition of wishing the mourner "long life." He smiled sweetly. Rest in peace, Mr Foot. Ninety-six. Keyn ayin hara.