Rosemary 31st December 2020

My tribute to Mike, read at the funeral by Niki Gardner. It all started with a knock on the door, and Mike asking ‘would you like to play recorders?’ Well, we played recorders; then we went to the pub, and played bar billiards which Mike was annoyingly good at. And, as they say, the rest is history. After a year or so in Lewes, we went for two years to Canberra, Kate was one year old and Penny was born there. We were delighted that Adam joined us for two months, he and Mike took some great trips together. Mike had a very productive scientific time looking at the eyes of Australian creepy crawlies, most of them poisonous. His excellent colleagues there become lifelong friends of our family. One Christmas with the thermometer at 40 degrees we enjoyed Dan Nilsson’s Swedish mulled wine sitting with our feet in Kate’s paddling pool. On our return to Lewes we moved up the hill to Cuilfail. Within a day or two Mike had spotted an unusual orchid by the front gate, although only the leaves were showing. It turned out to be a lizard orchid, which was duly counted and photographed for the book of Sussex orchids. Mike was a terrific spotter of the local flora, going on a walk with him was a great delight as he pointed out many flowers I had no idea existed. I gave Mike a base crumhorn kit for Christmas one year; little did I know that this would spawn a plethora of early instruments. The crumhorn was followed by the cornamuses, the curtals, the shawms and a hurdy gurdy to mention a few. We had many happy years in The White House, Christmases were always great fun with a super party for friends and their families every year. We were very good at parties, as most of you know. We gave two great birthday parties for Mike in The Grange; one with Paul Benjamin, joint 50th and one with Kate for Mike’s 60th and Kate’s 21st , although Kate was initially a bit dubious at celebrating with her Dad it worked out really well, music of all sorts and plenty to eat and drink. We had the pleasure of our first real meeting with Freddie at that party, although he did not emerge again until late afternoon the following must have been a good one. After the tragic loss of our daughter Penny it was very difficult to recover, but gradually we picked up, and with retirement and our move to Ringmer we have spent several further happy years. In Ringmer Mike threw himself, not literally, into remodelling the garden and his bulbs are planted for spring. He planted a wildflower meadow complete with a pyramid orchid. We enjoyed watching the garden mature, but we are still waiting for the wisteria. He joined the Community choir as well as Sussex Harmony and as I write this the carols from Kings are playing on the radio. Mike had an excellent voice and absolutely loved to sing loudly, he would have been joining in the carols with gusto, often harmonising a different line on each verse. How I will miss the sound of his voice. He had no time for God, but huge enjoyment of God’s tunes. Mike was an enthusiast, botany, music, gardens, art, history, geography, not to mention biology were all areas of expertise. Our stairs are lined with his watercolours of our family holidays. I have found several drawings and watercolours in notebooks which I shall enjoy framing to add to the collection. He never made heavy weather of his work or his activities. Although he would readily explain the details of invertebrate vision to anyone who encouraged him, he produced the papers and books without apparent stress and he always had time for his family. He was the main cook and loved to cook new and interesting dishes. Of course he was a terrific source of information. We became rather fond of the quiz show Pointless…we were great on everything apart from soap operas and football. In the last 10 years Mike had increasingly poor health, with limited mobility. He did not complain, and we continued to travel. I am particularly pleased that we went to the conference on vision held in Sweden in summer 2019. I knew it was one of the last times Mike would see his many colleagues in the field. Mike was the grand old man of the conference, warmly received by his scientific family young and old. In this bizarre year of the pandemic Mike’s health declined. We took every opportunity we could to get out into the country, driving up the road to see the spring flowers, when no other outings were allowed. Recently he enjoyed driving a mobility scooter round Sheffield Park to see the autumn colours. Despite illness and the lockdown he kept in good spirits, and whenever we could we played music with Liz, Roger and Jil, in the garden or on zoom. He has been my companion for almost exactly 40 years, I thank him for all that he has given me, and say goodbye to my best friend. I will remember him in the flowers, the music, the pictures, and raise many a glass to him when the orchids bloom. with love Rosemary