Sir: There is something which must be said about Ruth Picardie (obituary, 23 September).

I have a long-term illness so, mostly, when journalists write about illnesses, their own or somebody else's, I just wish they wouldn't. They make such an outright mess of it. I don't recognise any of my experience in what they write. Ruth was different. When she talked about her illness she used the same language that all patients I know use when they talk about whatever is afflicting them or is threatening to do so.

She used the same half-bleak half-black humour, with the same mixture of resentment, regret and hopefulness that we all use, with the same "which bit of me is going to fall off next" feelings. And some of the same wry comments about what doctors do and do not manage to tell you.

That line of hers - "Great, I'm going to die but I'm going to go bonkers first" - was just brilliant. When I wrote to her to say how much I appreciated this, before she made it clear to us just how serious things had become, she replied with a card thanking me for the encouragement and treating me like a long-lost friend.

I wouldn't be surprised if that was typical of her.

Alan Scott


East Sussex