Remembering Golding’s Last Day

In the Guardian, DM Thomas remembers William Golding.

I walked into a fish-and-chip shop in Truro, about 15 years ago, and joined a queue. At the head of it was an elderly man with wild white hair and beard, wearing a grubby raincoat. I recognised William Golding. I mused about the odds against walking into a chippie and seeing a Nobel Laureate having fish and chips wrapped. He shuffled past me without recognition and I didn’t say hello. It seemed an embarrassment to do so, almost as if I’d caught him buying a top-shelf magazine.

We had something in common beside fish-and-chips, wild white hair, grubby raincoats and writing novels. I had returned to my native Cornwall in 1987, a few years later than he had done. We don’t think of Golding as Cornish, but his mother was Cornish, and he was born near Newquay. His parents had married in Truro Cathedral. I lived with my wife Denise and our son in Truro, Golding a few miles away, in the village of Perranarworthal. He’d moved back from Wiltshire, I’d heard, partly to escape from the hordes of fans and trashcan-raiders, partly because he was proud of his Cornish roots.