Norman Geras, who died last week, was a real inspiration. I never had the privilege of being taught by him at the University of Manchester - but many of my friends there did. Anyone who encountered his humanity and detailed approach to rational debate cannot have failed to have been touched by him.
My contact with him came many years later when I stumbled across his blog - Normblog. It is no exaggeration to say that a Marxist Blairite academic with a love of cricket, country and western music, philosophical discourse and political debate showed the way. He managed to provide a daily delight. When I wrote a feature about the benefits of blogging for Insider magazine he was both courteous and generous with his time. When he asked me to contribute to his weekly Friday questionnaire I was humbled.
What I took from him more than his searing intellect, or even his unique and detailed writing style, was a consistent sense of humanity and love. And from that place he was particularly critical of many on the left of politics.
He was also a devoted husband and father who obviously enjoyed a rich range of friendships. His loss will clearly be felt by all those close to him.
There's a link to an obituary, and then a link to a few more, which was often the way of the Normblog, here.