Christopher James Nash (1936-2009)

Christopher James Nash, who died of an aggressive brain tumour on October 9th 2009, was a student at Aberystwyth from 1955 to 1962. He studied Art, English and French, won the Francis Williams prize for Art in 1957 and obtained a II(i) honours degree in English in 1959. He gained the Diploma in Education in 1960 and, between 1960 and 1962, pursued research into the rise of prose fiction in relation to drama in the first half of the eighteenth century.

During his time as a student he was a regular contributor to Dragon, which he edited in 1962.  He was features editor of Courier in 1960 – 61 and assistant editor in 1961 – 62.  He contributed a variety of articles to Courier including theatre and poetry reviews, profiles of members of staff, and political articles. He produced Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance for the NUS drama festival in 1961.

Born in Brentford, Middlesex, Chris moved around the country a great deal with his parents, spending parts of his childhood in Cardiganshire. He spent his working life teaching English, both to school children and to adults. Over the years he had numerous articles on literary criticism and poetry published and also produced two books, Rhythm and Metre, a guide for teachers, in 1985, and Macduff’s Hat and Other Shakespeare Enigmas in 2007.

Chris’s love of drama continued after his time at university and, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was a member of the Stourport-on-Severn Theatre Club for which he produced several plays. These were performed in the Stourport Civic Centre Theatre and included a very successful production of Hamlet.  During his teaching career he produced and directed a number of school plays. He was able to encourage outstanding performances from his students; his productions of The Snow Queen, Tom Jones and Fiddler on the Roof were triumphs for Chris and truly memorable experiences for participants and audiences alike.

Chris’s skills also extended to carpentry.  He was a talented carpenter who made toys for his children and articles of furniture for the home. He also wrote articles on carpentry, which were published. In recent years he produced and sold some fine woodcut prints. Chris was quite a film buff, with Martin Scorsese being his favourite director and Robert de Niro his favourite actor. He also enjoyed being outdoors, was, for a time, a keen windsurfer and remained an enthusiastic walker and cyclist.

Language and the meaning of words were part of the fabric of Chris’s life. He had a prodigious memory, particularly for poetry, which he retained to the end. During his student days he enjoyed Anglo-Saxon, the scourge of many lesser mortals, and could recite reams of Beowulf and other poems. In adult life he made up the most wonderful stories for his children and, later, his grandchildren. He also enjoyed complicated puns and his sharp wit enabled him to make up limericks in a flash. In fact, on the day that Chris went into hospital in July, for what was to prove his final illness, he was enjoying making up limericks with his grandsons. 

Chris was a great talker who revelled in intellectual discussion. He and Patrick Hannan enjoyed many a verbal tussle during their university days and it is a tragic coincidence that these two old sparring partners died within a day of one another.

A loving father and grandfather, Chris is survived by Gareth and Cathy, the two children of his marriage to Jenni, whom he met while they were both studying at Aber; Richard and Rebekah, the two children of his second marriage, to Sue; grandsons Dan and Alex and grand-daughters Jessica and Aaliyah.

Shortly before he died, Chris recited the following poem to his daughter, Cathy, and suggested it should be his epitaph. It seems, therefore, fitting to include it here:

Fire and Ice by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that, for destruction, ice
Is also great
And would suffice. 

Jenni Hyatt