Into your hands, we commend…

Today I attended the funeral of a woman that I never knew in life. In fact the first time I met Flora Margaret Walsh, she had been dead for mere seconds. Flora was killed in a tragic accident when the forces of nature reasserted its dominance over our modern way of life. A forty tonne Oak tree, that likely started its life as a discarded acorn many years before Flora’s birth almost seventy years ago, was uprooted by freak 80mph winds, the roots gave way in soil, waterlogged from weeks of un seasonal rain, and the tree crushed the car of the unsuspecting Flora, taking a life, and blocking a road for almost twenty four hours.

The medics assured me that Flora was killed instantly and likely knew nothing about it, and as reassuring as this is, it does mean that the horrific sound of the tree crunching the car, will toll as a death bell in my mind for the rest of my life.

Since witnessing the accident I have found myself thinking, “was there anymore I could have done?” I know for sure, that there wasn’t. I watched two fire engines full of firemen, unable to do any more over the following hour, than support the tree and make the car safe for the other emergency services. It would be hours later before Flora could be removed from the car after a team of specialised tree surgeons dismantled the oak with a series of very calculated cuts. But still, time and time again I come back to that moment and examine every decision and action I made.

I have since joked that I now have a mild case of Dendrophobia, a word that I didn’t even know existed a month ago, but in all seriousness, for the last month I have found driving around the country roads of the area I live, on the edge of the New Forest, particularly difficult. Used to having to drive with your eyes peeled to the side of the road, scanning for Deer, Pigs, Cows, Sheep, and Ponies, I now find myself watching every tree with a fearful anticipation. The worst has been at night, when I can’t see the trees, can’t see them moving in the wind. I know they are there. I know that they are moving.

It’s no exaggeration when I say that I potentially owe my life and that of my son, to a small branch that fell in front of my car and made me navigate around it. It was this that made me pay more attention to the uprising of the wind and the movement of the trees at the side of the road. Without it, I’m not sure that I would have seen the tree fall and I wouldn’t have been able to stop in time. It’s strange that I didn’t remember this at the time, only later when giving my statement to the police officer.

I find myself feeling guilty. I feel guilty that I have spent a month struggling with something that happened to someone else. I feel guilty every time someone asks me how I’m feeling. Because honestly, I feel sad. Yes I have images in my mind of what I saw in the car, yes I’ve seen the tree taking its tumble night after night, yes I’ve heard the re-occurring crunch of wood on metal, but I’m alive, and Flora isn’t. I feel guilty every time the narrative appears to be about me, because it’s not about me, it’s about Flora, a woman who was on her way to visit her husband in hospital, and never made it. But I have to juxtapose this with the need to talk about it, I can’t hold this inside, writing about it is the means to help me understand and hopefully come to terms with what was a tragic moment in time.

Today couldn’t have been any different than a month ago, blue skies, no wind, and a warm low winter sun. I met Flora’s daughters, Lucy and Claire, and Claire asked if she could give me a hug. I had been in two minds about going to the funeral, I felt that I needed to go, it seemed that I might find some closure, felt that I should meet the family, but I didn’t feel quite right about it. However, in that brief moment, held in the arms of a woman that I now have only a small but tragic link with, as she said thank you to me, it lightened by heart, and I think she gave me the little extra strength that I needed to move forward.

I don’t recall ever crying at a funeral before, but I cried at Flora’s. I cried for her, I cried for her family, I cried for my family, and I cried for myself.

Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in the giving that we receive, in pardoning that we are pardoned, and in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Flora is survived by her husband Martin, daughters Claire and Lucy, and 6 year old grandson Nye.

Donations in memory of Flora are for Knitted Knockers and Waggy Tails Rescue.

Waggy Tails

Knitted Knockers

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Yesterday was a difficult day…

It was late yesterday afternoon before I managed to watch the Rugby final. At half time I really didn’t care anymore and forwarded it to see the final result. The match just seemed irrelevant.

Yesterday  morning before the match I popped out to pickup Jacob from his friends. On the journey home we witnessed a tree come down a kill a woman in her car.

Jacob and I had stopped meters away, a mere second from being underneath it. We saw the tree come down, it was a bizarre moment, almost slow motion, but it was obvious the woman had’t seen it, we were able to stop in time, but the tree landed directly on top of her. I’m pretty sure the sound of the tree impacting the car will haunt me.

As first person to the car, it was obvious that she had’t made it, there was no signs of life, but to be honest with the state of the car, it would have taken a miracle. I’ll spare everyone the details. More people turned up, but we were powerless.

We watched helplessly as the various emergency services tried to work out what to do, but later sat in the back of the fire engine it was clear that they were no longer trying to get to the woman to help her, they’d called it, and it was now about recovery. The huge tree was still unsafe, a number of times we watch the fireman run from the tree as vicious gusts of wind threatened to dislodge it even further, indeed a little later the bow cracked. Eventually a special team arrived on the scene to start dismantling the tree in order to get access to the car.

One of the firemen who been looking after confirmed that she was dead and that she would have died on impact, I’m not sure it it’s true or just to ease the worrying, but apparently she wouldn’t have known or felt a thing.

Finally I gave my statement and the police recovered my car through the mass of emergency vehicles and we were able to leave. Driving back the way we’d come it was unnerving to see a large amount of other tree debris that had come down behind us.

I thought watching the match might help distract me, but it didn’t, and it just seemed so pointless. In the end, I just didn’t care. Part of me is glad England didn’t win, I’m not sure I could reconcile the joy with the utter sadness I feel.

Strong winds: Woman killed and ferry travel disrupted

Woman killed after tree falls on car in East Dorset

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The Lords of Midnight Novel

Why is the Solstice so important?

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On The Lords of Midnight: Intellectual Property, Copyright, and Moral rights.

Last week I was embroiled in a Copyright dispute. Well actually it was probably more like a libel case; let me explain.

In case you’ve not heard about it, there is a new Spectrum on the block. The Spectrum Next. It had a very successful Kickstarter and is due to be released in August.

Back in January I was contacted by someone, let’s call them BoB, who asked about licensing the engine for The Lords of Midnight. Now, obviously there is no ‘Engine’. I do have the original z80 code that I hand disassembled, the 80×86 code that I ported, and the various bits of code that I have developed of the years. The nearest thing to an engine is the ‘The Midnight Engine’ which is the underlying code used in my recent remakes. Now, that code is 90% mine, there is no code in it from the original spectrum versions of the Lords of Midnight or Doomdark’s Revenge. However, they wouldn’t exist without the original, and they obviously heavily interpret Mike’s original algorithms etc… because they were written to play, and expand upon The Lords of Midnight. The copyright to that code is mine. I have spoken previously about making it available to anyone who would like to do something non-commercial with it.

In June BoB contacted me again about developing a fan remake of The Lords of Midnight on the Spectrum Next, to which I answered in principal there is no problem doing so.

I possibly need to give that some context, to the whole. me giving permission.

Continue reading “On The Lords of Midnight: Intellectual Property, Copyright, and Moral rights.”

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In the bleak Midwinter

profile It is with a touch of regret that I have decided to leave the Midwinter Project.

Over twelve months ago I started sowing the seeds that would allow for a remake, and had many ideas and plans for it. The team have covered a lot of ground and many great ideas have come out of a lot of discussions and work.

For me there are many reasons why I have now come to this decision, but ultimately, it just boils down to me not being able to make the project work in a way that I originally envisaged.

The rest of the team are continuing with the project and I leave it in the capable hands of Dan Whitehead and Dave Gautrey.

I wish the team all the best and hope they have much success with the game.

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