Famed food critic A.A. Gill reveals cancer diagnosis with gusto: ‘There is barely a morsel of offal that is not included...’

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 November, 2016, 12:14pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 November, 2016, 12:44pm

Restaurant critic A.A. Gill has been diagnosed with “an embarrassment of cancer, the full English”, breaking the news in his regular Table Talk dining column.

The 62-year-old Sunday Times writer said he was alerting readers who follow his restaurant recommendations and who ought to know if there were “any fundamental, gastro, epicurean personal changes that would affect my judgement”.

Gill, a father of four, also announced he is to marry his long-term partner, Nicola Formby, after 23 years together.

Describing how the disease, diagnosed in the summer, had spread, he wrote: “There is barely a morsel of offal that is not included. I have a trucker’s gut-buster, gimpy, malevolent, meaty, malignancy."

Gill, who was married to home secretary Amber Rudd during the 1990s, is the latest of a number of high-profile journalists and celebrities to have chosen to go public about cancer and chronicle their journeys.

I have a trucker’s gut-buster, gimpy, malevolent, meaty, malignancy
A.A. Gill

Early pioneers to have written newspaper diaries about their cancer include Ruth Picardie, journalist and mother of two, whose Observer column was published as the memoir Before I Say Goodbye after her death in 1997 aged 33 from breast cancer. Broadcaster and journalist John Diamond, husband of Nigella Lawson, who died after being diagnosed with throat cancer in 2001 aged 47, won a What the Papers Say award for his weekly column.

The Vanity Fair columns written by author, essayist and journalist Christopher Hitchens, who died aged 62 in 2011 from oesophageal cancer, were published in a book titled Mortality after his death.

Sun columnist Jane Moore, a friend of Gill, told the Andrew Marr show she had urged him to write about his illness “because I thought it would be the definitive article on having cancer”.

Experts have long applauded those who share their experiences publicly for helping break the taboo of talking openly about the disease. Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research UK’s head nurse, said: Although over recent years attitudes have begun to change, cancer is still a subject that people find difficult to discuss. When people in the public eye are open about their cancer diagnosis it can be extremely helpful in demonstrating that it is OK to talk about it”.

In an interview in the Sunday Times, Gill said he had no regrets about his diagnosis. “I realise I don’t have a bucket list; I don’t feel I’ve been cheated of anything. I’d like to have gone to Timbuktu, and there are places I will be sorry not to see again,” he said.

Gill, who gave up alcohol when he was 30, added: “But actually, because of the nature of my life and the nature of what happened to me in my early life – my [alcohol] addiction, I know I have been very lucky.”