A black man in Arundel

My husband and I met Jay for the first time just days before he was to marry Olivia. It was a perfect English summer’s day in the historic town of Arundel.

As enjoyable as the festive atmosphere was, what I enjoyed most was our serious discussions about, among other things, race: A man came up to us, so excited he might as well have been jumping up licking our faces and wagging his tail because… there was a black man in Arundel! He asked to take a photo of us representing ‘Multicultural Arundel’. We acquiesced rather dazedly and then instantly regretted it – because a heartbeat-of-a-thought later, we considered the fact that unfortunately Arundel is not in the slightest multicultural. Jay was utterly unfazed which I felt was not just because this was sadly familiar to him but because of his gracious spirit.

What we remember of Jay was a warm, funny, open, intellectually stimulating man and he was the perfect life partner for Olivia. We didn’t know Jay well but because of the impact he made on us that day, and the few other times we saw him thereafter, we miss him. I felt I had so much to learn from him.

Penny Montford and Amjad Rihan