20 APRIL 1991, Page 26

Renate Sunkler

Sir: It was with particular sadness that I learnt — through Jeffrey Bernard's Low • life column (16 March). — that Renate Sunkler, who was writing a thesis about him, had died. Owing to our mutual interest in Jeffrey Bernard, Renate and I had struck up a somewhat unusual sort of friendship and I would like to add a couple of things to what Jeffrey has already written.

Renate discovered her hero when she was in London last year and read about him in the Sunday Times magazine. The article was 'A life in the day of. . .' She was so fascinated that after going to see the show at the Apollo she decided to intro- duce herself to him in the Coach and Horses. So began their rather touching friendship.

When Renate wrote to The Spectator asking for readers' opinions about Jeff, she received letters from all over the world and I was flattered that she chose mine to take to her professor in Vienna in order to have her thesis authorised. (I believe she sent it to you too, Jeff, which really does embar- rass me.) We then began exchanging let- ters, postcards and telephone calls, and I even received a box of chocolates with a portrait of Mozart on the front. My mother, who is a music teacher, approp- riately devoured the contents.

During her last visit to London — only a matter of weeks ago — we finally met and Renate insisted on taking me for a meal. During it she produced a tape recorder and asked me to talk about Jeffrey. She was speaking about her project with great enthusiasm, and her only concern seemed to be that Jeff had been wearing the same shirt for three successive days.

Her death is a sad mystery to me too, but what I can say is that The Spectator, and in particular, Jeffrey Bernard, were two of the most wonderful things which ever happened to Renate. It also took a sort of courage for her to press ahead with her academic appreciation of Jeff — particular- ly in the face of many jokes which were made about it. She was a delightful woman; kind, exuberant and charming. Like Jeffrey, and along with many other people too, I will not forget her.

Jeremy Lamb

Flat 2, Richmond Mansions, 248 Old Brompton Road, London SW5