I can vividly remember my first lecture with Simon, we were in one of the larger lecture halls with each of us sat in rows. We were discussing deprivation and Simon mentioned two places, both of which he regarded ‘the shithole, back end towns’ of the UK. He was referring to Sunderland and Grimsby and what he meant, of course, was that despite once having thriving industries, in both towns the industry had dried up, and consequently poverty and deprivation had sunk in. I myself, had grown up in Grimsby leaving home for the first time to study my degree. I remember sneaking a glance at the other giggling students and feeling embarrassed. It was only with time and getting to know Simon that I discovered he too had spent some time growing up in the same town, and the aforementioned was just a snippet of the delightfully dry and witty humour that I soon became acquainted with.
I returned to Derby to see Simon on a few occasions and was always greeted with a big smile and encouraging, enthusiastic nods as I updated him on what I was currently up to. As I’ve similarly heard in many of the accounts here, Simon always had time for me. He very kindly provided a reference when (4 years after graduating) I finally plucked up the courage to study a master’s degree and later, whilst studying said degree, very kindly proof read a section of an essay I was particularly nervous about submitting.
I think that one of the biggest lessons I learnt from Simon was to write in my own words and not, as he coined it, ‘wearing a toupee’. This is something I maintained in later studies, feeling more confident using terms that I understood in the appropriate context, than attempting to throw in academic jargon to ‘sound clever’.
Simon had a wonderful and uncanny ability of using every day examples to bring a theory to life. So often his family, friends, ex-students or a TV programme he’d recently seen (namely Mad Men) would feature, but whatever he shared, it was always relatable and most often helped everything snap into place.
Simon’s wealth of knowledge was gigantic, matched only by his modesty. Despite his immense intellect, he never made you feel inferior or unable to ask him anything. He patiently waited for you to come to the conclusion, never hurrying or filling in, and his eyes would quite literally dance with excitement as you reached the answer – eagerly exclaiming ‘absolutely, absolutely’ to spur you on.
I am incredibly shocked and saddened by the news of Simon’s untimely passing, I will miss him dearly as I am sure so many other students shall too. I feel so very privileged to have been taught by such a bright, wonderful man, and I am forever grateful for all of his guidance, wisdom and support.