I met Julia in spring 2000 when she tutored a small group of us. Every six weeks we’d meet up at the railway station hotel in York for afternoon tea. We lounged on the big hotel sofas, ate scones with jam and cream and she came up with funny, innovative ways for us to approach our work. She had panache and style and a great grin. She always had something personal to say to us. ‘What we want’ she told me ‘is for you to make your living at writing’. She was so delighted that she could. She made me remember that writing is an honourable craft, and that it’s possible to make a living and keep integrity.
My sister phoned me at midnight to tell me Julia had died. She lives in Newcastle, and used to exchange greeting with Julia on the bus, after they had met years ago in anti-apartheid meetings. We talked for a while, agreed that Julia had really lived.
‘She was a bloody good writer,’ I said. ‘I liked Julia’, said my sister. So did I.
Thanks for Julia’s life, and peace to her and her family.