My friend James Morrow, who has died aged 74 from lung cancer, was an assistant editor at the Guardian in the 1980s, a psychotherapist and a motorcycle adventurer.
Born in Oxford, James was the son of Ian Morrow, a management consultant knighted for his work with Rolls-Royce, and his wife, Elizabeth (nee Thackray). He attended Rugby school in Warwickshire and, after studies at a technical college in Cambridge, dabbled in accountancy and advertising before landing a position with the Kilburn Times.
Progressing quickly, James joined the Guardian in 1979 as a subeditor, helping oversee the newspaper’s transition to computerised publication. He rose to be assistant editor of the Jobs & Money section during the huge economic changes of the Thatcher years. By this time he had become a high-functioning alcoholic – successfully concealing the extent of his problem from family and friends.
After getting sober with the support of Alcoholics Anonymous, James left journalism in 2004 to retrain as a psychotherapist, working in rehabilitation centres across London. For him this was a way to give back, and his proudest achievement was working tirelessly with colleagues at St Luke’s in Kennington, helping patients turn their lives around until its closure in 2012.
In the same year, James married Patricia Webb, a photographer, his third wife. As ardent motorcyclists, they rode thousands of miles across Europe, North Africa, India and south-east Asia – living for a time in Thailand and visiting a pre-coup Myanmar. They could recount extraordinary, often risky adventures – with their survival intact and their undiminished wanderlust a testament to the strength of their relationship.
Always a passionate and vocal political animal, James was fuelled by a desire for social improvement, outraged by injustice and, more recently, bewildered by the ever-decreasing calibre of our leaders and ministers. His journey of recovery left him a quietly remarkable person.
James is survived by Patti, his children, Tom, Jemima and Sam, from his marriage to Bridget, which ended in divorce, and grandchildren, Aliya and Sufyan, and by his sister, Clare.