About ten years ago, I was at the Glastonbury Festival. It was a quiet moment between acts and I was just vaguely wandering around.
I spotted the tiny stall alongside the LeftField and meandered over there to peruse the books. There was a tent flap hiding my view of half of the interior, I didn't see who was sitting there until I was right inside.
In a space about six feet by three feet was me and Tony Benn.
He'd been quietly signing books. Not making a big fuss about it, just leaving those autographs in copies of his diaries for the delight of those purchasing them here. As soon as I walked in, he smiled up at me and put down his pen, waiting to see if I would say hello.
I did. It was a gabbled, over-awed affair, but I managed a greeting anyhow.
For about ten or fifteen minutes, it was me and Tony Benn chatting about the world, and the Stop the War campaign. I'd have been content to listen, wide-eyed and slack jawed, as he spoke some monologue to me. But he wasn't having that.
He was interested in what I had to say. He wanted my thoughts. It was a conversation. One initially beset by me solely afraid that I sounded stupid and inarticulate. He put me at my ease so much, that it was more like talking with an old friend.
After a while, the stall volunteer came back with cups of tea for himself and Mr Benn. I shyly asked if they wouldn't mind a picture being taken, me with Tony. They didn't. The lad behind the counter took the photograph, just as others drifted in.
It was crowded now, and I felt that I'd had my time. Tony Benn shook my hand like I mattered, and said goodbye.
I lost my camera that festival. I never got to see the photo taken in the LeftField.
But the bigger loss came today, on March 14th 2014, when his family announced that Tony Benn had died. The above small anecdote might give some insight into why that matters so much.