Simon 4th January 2021

Honest to goodness I first met Mike in 1976, when I visited Sussex and gave an impromptu talk. I presented the new theoretical method for determining how well an eye works that Allan Snyder, Doekele Stavenga and I had just developed in Canberra. Allan and I thought that our sophisticated application of information theory would revolutionise the analysis of eye design, so I was bit taken aback that Mike, although obviously friendly and infectiously enthusiastic about all things visual, seemed less impressed with our work than we were. When Mike published his landmark review in the Handbook of Sensory Physiology in 1981, I understood why. I had not told Mike anything new. He had worked it all out for himself, far more simply and directly, and was busy applying it across the Animal Kingdom. When Mike and Rosemary came to Canberra I mentioned to Mike that we had already met. “Ah yes, I remember” said Mike, “you were a clever young man who was a bit full of himself”. This telling critique was delivered so lightly, with a chuckle, a smile and twinkling eyes, that I could not avoid taking it as it was meant – friendly advice that I should think about how one presents oneself and one’s work. I did not have to think very hard, I just had to follow Mike’s example. It was a difficult act to follow. Mike had the knack of breaking new ground by doing something ingenious, and often technically challenging, using equipment that he had assembled himself. His experiments were elegant, and his findings illuminating, convincing, and often ground-breaking. Mike then presented his work with captivating wit and clarity, so that it spoke for itself and thus for him. In Canberra Mike and I played squash once a week. We were well-matched, for although Mike was a bit tubbier and older than me, he bounced around the court with surprising agility and combined his knowledge of tracking and interception with excellent hand-eye coordination to return my best shots to inaccessible corners of the court. When we finished we would shower, unpack our lunch boxes, have a drink, and chat. Mike and Rosemary were completing their family with Penny and during our chats I learnt what was required of a good husband and father. Indeed, Mike and Rosemary’s example encouraged Barbara and I to start our own family. Although Mike and I both worked on insect vision, Mike concentrated on eyes and visually guided behaviour whereas I plugged away trying to unravel what Mike called “the complicated stuff in between”, so we only collaborated scientifically once, for a grand total of 15 minutes. It happened like this. One day Mike came to me and asked if I could help him by taking a photograph. I agreed and asked what for. Mike said that he had been invited to a colloquium in Germany (or was it Switzerland?) and the organisers had asked everyone to bring with them a photograph of their research equipment. We went outside where Mike took out a pea shooter, like the one he and Tom Collett had used to discover how a hoverfly computes a course that intercepts a small moving target. Mike then postured theatrically as the scientist in action, pushing back the frontiers with puff, while I took the shot. I am sure that Mike’s imaginary pea found its target. Simon