Carlotta Maurice, 2003-05-04

I was so moved by Sai Mishima's account of his memories of David, whom he called his best teacher and best friend. This essay will appear on David's website, and the extraordinary story of 45 years in science and of what he describes as his happiest personal friendship.

The pleasure was mutual; from the time Sai arrived in London in 1959 he was effortlessly a part of our family life; that is, after the initial shock when David urged him to use first names. At that time he assured us, he did not even address his own brother by a first name.

By the time Sai left for Boston a year later, he had baby-sat the newborn Julia, his daughter Minako and Celia had shared secrets in the tower of our house at Holly Village , and Sai had taught us the art of eating Christmas pudding with chopsticks.

I experienced great nostalgia to learn that Sai's first encounter with David's work was coming across his 1957 paper, The Structure and Transparency of the Cornea *, which I had originally typed out on an old portable Olivetti in our first apartment with crumbling, slanting, yellow floors on Grafton Way, off the Tottenham Court Road.

It feels bittersweet to read about their later correspondence, each reminiscing about those good old days, each expressing the sense that he was getting old.

But in my minds eye, they are always young, always excited, and at their best.

* Maurice, D.M. (1957) The structure and transparency of the cornea. Journal of Physiology, 136:263-286.




I want to write funny things about you, witty
affectionate observations your friends would recognize,
acute far-ranging glimpses full of amusing perceptions
not glowering insights which cast a subtext evil eye,
to scrutinize undazzled but with humour and discernment,
without blinkers or sidelong winks and flickers set
down your special charm, the drawings and diversions,
clever devices and games, your endearing and elusive range.
But when I spy you unobserved the project fails.
Sleeping, waking, or in fond family photos I can see
carved into your visage a deep unlooked for melancholy,
an angle of hauteur, hubris hoodwinked by itself.
My vision slants and I must reconnoiter, look sharp,
focus, relocate my mission through loaded bombsights.