Sad news came from New Zealand this week. A man called Murray Thompson passed away. Cancer got him. It is a long time since I met him and I met him only once. On that occasion he handed over the keys to his fishing hut on the shore of Lake Onslow to my brother and me. He didn´t know either of us from Adam. We were just a couple of fly fishermen who showed up at his door during an inhospitable spell of foul weather. We were looking for somewhere to go fishing when local rivers had become muddy torrents.

We talked a little while. Murray was famously strong and played rugby for Otago back in the day. He was as solid as an ox. When we had dispensed with a little small talk he handed over the keys and asked in return only two things; that we leave a small contribution to the upkeep of the hut, and that we leave behind something that might be of some use to subsequent visitors. He did not specify what – maybe a can of stew. Maybe a six pack of beer.

That was more than 10 years ago and it was the last time I stayed at the hut on Onslow and the only time I met its owner. Now, as the news made its way from one side of the world to the other, I realise what a privilege it was to have met him and how lucky I was to have had the experience of fishing up at Onslow and staying at his hut.

I have written about the hut elsewhere. If you want to get a feel for what it is like to go to Onslow I have tried to relate this in “Dry River” which was published last year. All I can say here is that it is a wonderful place; remote, uncomplicated, beautiful.

Murray´s passing feels like leaving the hut at night, as we would do when, full of beer, we wandered off to take a piss on the tussock grass and to get the sense that some small detail of the ocean of stars has been altered. The incomprehensible universe is still there. The Sothern Cross is still there. But somewhere, in a place we cannot specify, the awareness develops that a light that had been shining once is not shining any more.