A friend died at the weekend. His name was Jonathan Dell and he had been in the restaurant business for many years, notably as a director of Pizza Express and then in his own businesses. He also reinvented himself several times in recent years by developing his creative talents, including photography and copywriting.

If you’ve never heard of this man you may wonder why I’m blogging about him. The reason is this. Jonathan died of a brain tumour at the age of 51. Before that he had been living with multiple sclerosis, ever since I first met him; first the relapsing-remitting type, then the secondary progressive type. He went from being the restless entrepreneur – driving all over the country to manage his restaurants and look for new business opportunities – to being a train or taxi passenger, but still striving. Then he could walk with the aid of a stick but preferred to avoid it. Then he needed two sticks, then eventually a wheelchair. I remember he invited me for tea at Brown’s Hotel a year or two back; at that time he could walk with the aid of two sticks but wanted to get from our table to his taxi without them. I was impressed with how the staff was solicitous and caring but did not try to interfere, even though the 10-yard journey took us about 10 minutes.

He tried all kinds of new treatments, of course; volunteering for trials of new drugs and technologies, including a drug based on serum from goats’ blood and later an electrical impulse system called FES, (functional electrical stimulation) to boost the failing nerves in his legs. Never giving up, always striving.

Earlier this year Jonathan went downhill; it was first thought it was the MS getting even worse but then a brain tumour was diagnosed; the ultimate obscenity on top of what he had already been through. By the time he died at the weekend, he had had enough, in the words of his partner Sarah who has cared for him these past few difficult years.

Now here’s the point; if you didn’t know Jonathan you might have wondered when I was getting to it. Jonathan Dell had more health issues (to use the modern euphemism) than any 10 or 20 or 50 average people, but he made light of them. Yes, he would complain if he thought that health professionals had let him down, but that was simply because he had been in business all his life and liked to get things right; he would complain just as effectively and articulately if he got bad service in a restaurant or shop and he didn’t believe in the usual British way of pretending that everything is acceptable, as in: “How’s the food?” “Lovely, thanks!” However, he never – at least never in my hearing – complained about his condition. I never heard him say or imply “why me?” Strangely enough, when I worked for The Stroke Association and met many stroke survivors, I found the same thing: the people with the real problems complain the least.

I’ll try to remember that, next time I have a cold. Rest in peace, Jonathan.