Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Best wishes for a speedy recovery to my friend, Kevin Geary

If you're one of my Chiswickite or BBC readers, you may know Kevin Geary, one of the nicest chaps to ever draw breath. Well, he almost stopped doing so last Thursday when, following a walk with friends up Bob's Peak in Queenstownon during a Christmas visit home to New Zealand with his family, he suffered a massive heart attack.

Luckily, Kevin had returned to ground level when it happened, and an off-duty volunteer ambulance officer was on hand to help. From today's article in the Otago Daily Times, it sounds as if New Zealand's a pretty good place to be taken seriously  ill. Kevin was whisked to hospital and operated on for a blocked artery (he's now sporting that trendiest of all modern accessories, a stent) and the after-care sounds fantastic: in the UK, he'd probably have been discharged with Clostridium difficile and forced to crawl home on his hands and knees by now.

I first met Kevin over 20 years ago when he turned up as a producer on what was then the BBC Nine O'Clock News. He went ont o enkoy a long and distinguished career on BBC World News. Three years ago, I had the pleasure of working with him on the launch of the new TV channel, BBC Persian - he was the yin to my yang (or maybe the other way round - I can never tell). Our temperaments were so different, we made an extremly effective (and probably quite entertaining) double act. More importantly, the daily programme that resulted was truly excellent.

This will no doubt sound horribly smug, but anyone working with us during that period would have assumed that if anyone was going to have a heart attack it would have been the ex-drinking, ex-smoking, overweight shouty man rather than his invariably equable, sunny, healthy, fit, slim workmate - but life is extraordinarily unfair.

Kevin sounds like he's all fixed now, and I'm assuming he'll be right as rain for another four or five decades, as he's only 53 (don't be fooled by the white hair - it's always been that colour). Which would be good news for his family, his many friends and all the budding TV journalists he's been training around the world since taking early retirement.

Because Kevin shared a homophonic name with the BBC Sports reporter, Kevin Gearey (vertically challenged, florid complexion, dodgy moustache), he occasionally had to suffer the ironic football-style chant, "There's only one Kevin Geary!" in the newsroom. Well, last week, there almost was. Good bloke - and I'm very glad he's still with us. I expect he is as well!

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