Many years ago, perhaps nearly 17 or 18 years ago, I was coming to the end of a very difficult marriage that was about to end in divorce. I was shattered and broke, but I had taken the opportunity to visit friends, far away and was returning home by train. The carriage was almost full and I sat down at the end, in a seat that was on its own, with only one other facing it. This man sat down opposite me. His name is Ray Gosling.
Gosling was busy making notes in little red note books, the kind you could buy from Woolworths for sixpence, and to be honest I was not sure what was in store, since he looked very determined about something, in the way that determination seems a bit odd. Anyway, after a while, it clicked. I remembered who he was and where I had seen him. Ray Gosling was a very unusual and gifted broadcaster who appeared regularly on TV in the sixties and seventies, in news and current affairs shows, and who was by all accounts arty and bohemian and brilliant at his job. We got talking, and I found that he was easy to talk with and very easy-going altogether. These days, he comes across as a bit curmugeonly, but I did not get that. He was headed for the BBC and offered me a lift in his taxi when we arrived at the station, and since I was on my uppers and looking for work, he gave me a name and in a modest, mumbling way said I could mention him.
We now move forward to the present, Ray Gosling appeared in a programme about mercy killing, in which he admits suffocating someone with a pillow - someone he was close to and who was in pain.
“I killed someone, once. He was a young chap, he’d been my lover and he got Aids.
“In a hospital one hot afternoon, the doctor said there’s nothing we can do. He was in terrible, terrible pain.
“I said to the doctor ‘leave me just for a bit’, and he went away, and I picked up the pillow and smothered him till he was dead.
“Doctor came back and I said ‘he’s gone’. Nothing more was ever said.”
Gosling is no stranger to difficulties. A few years ago he was on the verge of bankruptcy and his partner had died.
I know that there are arguments on both sides of this very difficult issue, but it is a measure of this man that he is prepared to go on record, a very public record, with his own views, regardless of the consequences.
PS: Ray Gosling always had a sort of trade mark, a well cut long overcoat which in the early years of Black and White TV appeared black, which made him look mean and moody and slightly out of sync with his surroundings. The BBC clip, shows him in his trademark long wool overcoat, now lighter and mellower, to go with his age maybe, and perhaps this short piece will give you a sense of the man and his motives. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/nottinghamshire/8516499.stm