‘he waits for new knees In the same way I wait to dye my roots’

Lucy Holden, 28, has formed a re­mark­able friendship with David Lind­ley, 70.


When my mum drove me up the M5 to the Univer­sity of Leeds eight years ago, I had no idea that one of the clos­est re­la­tion­ships I’d make would be with a pro­fes­sor of Re­nais­sance lit­er­a­ture who is al­most three times my age. But David Lind­ley and I have been un­likely friends since the sec­ond year of my English de­gree, when he taught me Spencer, Her­bert and Web­ster in a dusty, book-piled of­fice.

emails have flown be­tween us since i left Leeds five years ago, and we meet for din­ner and drinks when­ever he’s in Lon­don for a stint of re­search at the Bri­tish Li­brary. Lind­ley is one of the UK’S top Shake­speare schol­ars and edited The Tem­pest for the new cam­bridge Shake­speare se­ries of books.

nat­u­rally, given our ages, we have a lot of dif­fer­ences, but that’s part of the fun. Lind­ley plays the or­gan, whereas i play Ra­dio 6. he loathes twit­ter and Face­book – although he once sent me a so­cial me­dia post by a neigh­bour who had worked out you could use old car­pets to pre­vent weeds grow­ing on gar­den bor­ders.

Since i grad­u­ated, i’ve changed jobs, flats and coun­tries; Lind­ley has re­tired, had his first grand­child and has be­gun an ‘elderly grum­ble about ail­ments of one sort and an­other’. he waits for new knees in the same way i wait to dye my roots, hav­ing spot­ted my first grey hairs.

When we started hav­ing lunch to­gether my friends at Leeds

sug­gested it was ‘weird’ and asked what we talked about. i shrugged: ‘ev­ery­thing.’ i revel in the fact that the con­ver­sa­tion is so dif­fer­ent, and now we each teach the other about the world, past and present. i didn’t know any of my grand­par­ents well, and this is the sort of re­la­tion­ship i imag­ine that i might have had with them. af­ter my friends re­alised there wasn’t any­thing un­to­ward about the friendship, i think they were in awe. now, if we take a selfie and i post it on Face­book, ev­ery­one from our old class ‘likes’ it. i love count­ing Lind­ley as a friend.

‘We have a lot of dif­fer­ences, but that’s part of the fun’

Lucy and David struck up a friendship when he taught her at univer­sity

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