Wednesday 5th April 2017 Remembering Dr Helen Szamuely by Carol Gould
I am deeply saddened that my friend and colleague Dr Helen Szamuely died this morning. She had been a tremendous support over the years because she was a 'cancer sister.' Helen introduced me to the Bruges Group and though we vehemently disagreed on many things political we always had a stimulating brain-fest. I'm glad that the last time we met we had a wonderful, long lunch with our never-ending argument about FDR and Eleanor but always ended in a hug at our favourite Korean barbecue joint.
She loved to argue. Her tenacity was terrifying. I would say we were 80% as one politically but sometimes she would be so hostile I wondered if we would permanently fall out. Even when she was about to walk out of the Four Seasons restaurant in Chinatown because I happened to say I revered the memory of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, we remained friends. She was incensed that I did not agree that the Roosevelts were Soviet agents and indeed for some months afterwards I avoided her but it was Helen who rekindled the friendship.
One evening she challenged me as our meals got cold at Pizza Express until I gave up about loving Horsham and the two Sussexes. She could not believe that I had been in the UK for forty years and that the sum total of my experience of the United Kingdom was that Horsham was charming and that driving through Sussex was sublime. I had never seen her so angry. She was one hell of a debater.
There is one realm in which Helen, who died well before her time, shone like no-one else. In Jewish tradition she would be known as an 'eishes chayil' - a woman of valour. When my breast cancer returned in 2009-10 she was there for me at every juncture, 24/7. She was also there for me in the subsequent years of fear and healing. When the scourge came back in November 2016 Stage 4 she stopped everything to meet - she was already ill with a lung ailment herself - and offered to come with me to appointments at the Marsden and to sit with me during chemotherapy sessions. Indeed a woman of valour. A Rock of Gibraltar.
Since Helen died tributes have poured in saying the most beautiful things about her. I wonder if Helen ever knew how much she was admired from far and wide by the great and the good and by ordinary folk who had never even met her? We used to text each other about everything under the sun until the wee hours and always loved our outings to my ‘corner bistro,’ Gogi. It is hard to believe that we were still texting in the wee hours as recently as March 25.
A foundation or scholarship should be established in this brilliant woman's name. Once again condolences to her daughter Katharine. Do take a few moments to read the tributes at the Facebook pages for Helen and Katharine. RIP