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Silence Exile and Crumpets
 
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Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Time Event
11:43a
One of my oldest friends just died
FOR MIKE

We're made from ancestors. Also from friends.
Jokes. Hugs. Rebukes. The books they made us read.
They made us weep. Sometimes they made us bleed.
Violent desires have sometimes violent ends
Or wither. Friendship twines about the heart
A subtle bindweed. Can't eradicate
Mostly you don't remember place or date
Acquaintance changes and new friendshps start
Each way the fondness never quite the same
Balance of power shifts and then moves around
Differences gentle sometimes quite profound
That make us bless curse half-forget their name
Still written on our bones. A thing we find
Most when they're dead and we are left behind.

Technically Mike Dickinson was my oldest friend because apparently we had play dates when we were very tiny.

We actually met in Leeds in the 70s when he was running, part-time, the sf shelves in the local Left bookstore, and stayed in touch when I moved to London. He dragged me into SF fandom by getting me to bring the Leeds group food supplies at the 75 Heathrow Eastercon. When he was doing fanzines and editing Vector, he chivvied me into writing my first reviews. As one of the organisers of various Yorcons, he helped create a space where I felt safe in fandom post-transition and where Geoff Ryman and I had our first LGBT fandom party. And it's through him and Jackie Gresham indirectly that I met my partner. He was a significant reader for Gollancz.

He was a beefy, funny, well-read, folk-singing...He was a talented teacher and a good man.

We saw less of each other in recent years. He and Jackie had elder care responsibilities and his health declined. He died after a short illness on Friday, suddenly, in his sleep.

I have missed him and always will.
11:44a
A poem about family
THE MYSTERIOUS PEDLAR

Mum's cousin Jean had cheekbones like sharp knives,
And eyes dark passion brown as the old song.
We often get these speculations wrong
But bits of us get passed down through their lives
The ancestors of whom we hardly heard.
He was a pedlar who got sick and died
My great great grandma kneeling at his side
Who nursed him. And we don't know what occurred.
Nose aquiline and cheekbones in my blood
Irish potato face grandfather's height
My aunt's imagination these things might
Explain me. We aren't made of sun-baked mud
But generations handed flesh and bone
Remembered family and those unknown.

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