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Ron hasn’t suggested a single actual title but everyone is happy, including the nervous assistant children’s editor.


‘Wave Theory!’ barks Ron as we leave the room, ‘everyone a winner!’ He is not taking himself seriously. It takes but a moment to realise what Ron has achieved in a twinkling. Now we all know what we are doing. We shall have to find six books to publish in the autumn of nineteen seventy-nine and twelve more for the next year. The future is fixed and yet still wide open with possibility. Ron has created all the empty slots, now all we have to do is fill them. Publishing order has come from chaos. This is the kind of confident publishing plan that it is actually very difficult to pull off. Everyone in that editorial meeting knew that Ron would find books of sufficient quality, worthy to be published by OUP and popular with young readers to fill the slots. The budget would be made available. And Ron had not bitten off more work than we could chew. Everyone trusted his editorial judgement. What do publishers actually do, if anything? Mostly they try to do what Ron did so lightly but effectively here. They conjure a coherent list of books out of nowhere into existence. Ron provided this kind of hidden framework for colleagues in everything he attempted from books to pantomimes. He did the same for authors, and provided a strong confident framework in which they could do their finest


work. To be a junior editor working with Ron was to be given an armchair ride into editing, so supportive was he that you couldn’t even tell you were being supported. Could we fill those slots? Yes, we could.


Recently, at the overflowing and very moving memorial service to Ron we all learned if we didn’t know already that Ron’s world was wider, and his acquaintance broader than any of us realized. We also learned that he had been a practising Catholic all his life. He had worshipped every week and taken the fullest part in his religious community from handing out the hymn books on Sundays to running the Sunday School. (Of course he had!) At work Ron never really evinced any religious belief or made anything of his personal beliefs at all. Ron had spent all his publishing life working for one company, the Oxford University Press.The motto of the university press is Dominus Illuminatio Mea. The Lord is my light. Nobody I ever met has ever encapsulated that motto in his person more. Ron Heapy. A very good editor. A good man. The Lord was his light.


Back in 1979 that young editor got up and followed Ron down the corridor. Of course he did.


‘We’re all going to the dogs!’ Ron cried. And we laughed. Books for Keeps No.225 July 2017 21


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