We need a new word for love. Or, at least, for that love which is not erotic, familial, or the love of close friends, but which can be used to describe the feelings we have for people who are outside those groups but nevertheless have an impact on our lives and make us better by being part of them.
My boss retires tomorrow after thirty seven years with the company. For twenty five of those, less a fortnight, I have worked for him either directly or indirectly. For the whole of that time, he has been open, kind, professional, knowledgeable and generous with his knowledge, supportive, ethical, friendly, and always fun to work with. We used to say that Alistair would never ask you to do anything he wouldn’t do himself, and that he could always do it better than you, and it was almost always true. I have worked with him, flown with him, socialised with him, laughed with him, and, on very rare occasions, got a little bit drunk with him. And from tomorrow, that relationship will be over, either to come to a natural end or to transition into another kind of friendship. And I don’t have a word to sum up the emotion I have.
So I will borrow from Victoria Pendleton, who, after her last race in the Olympic velodrome, formed her hands into a heart and pointed at the crowd which had supported her. I heart you. A word encompassing gratitude, affection, admiration and esteem.
In that spirit, allow me to say, thank you, Alistair. I heart you and I shall miss you.