When you went into Michael Foot’s study, of course there was his desk groaning with books – half of them biographies, half of them great literary works.

Of the four study walls one had shelves completely full of books by Byron – many first editions; the next cascaded with Keats and the third was awash with Shelley.

Michael Foot was above all a romantic, an idealist, a scholar, a humanitarian and perhaps in the end quite simply too good for politics.

Our generation will remember him for the disaster that he was as Labour Party leader, but many believed politics could still rise to contain and allow to flourish an idealistic romantic.

Foot believed in a better world for all. Unlike just about every other Labour leader he was never interested in money, accepted no political honours, did not go to the House of Lords, and did not bask in the political world of “when I was”.

He was a decent and accomplished man. He was superb company, a fantastic gossip and married to a wonderful woman in Jill Craigie, the film director. They ran an almost open house of endless meals, drinks, conversation and walks with dogs on Hampstead Heath.

I feel fortunate to have known him as a friend. He lived a full life to the end, his body seeming to desert a still vibrant mind. History will eventually recall that he was a remarkable force for principle and morality in the unprincipled and immoral age in which he lived.