Jump to content

Vale, Lord Manwoody

Ser Camaris

Recommended Posts

Vale, Lord Manwoody (Michael Whincop 12/12/1968-25/6/2003)
One of the interesting truths of getting older is the way it catches you off guard when you least it expect it. You still feel like the same person on the inside until you catch sight of yourself in the mirror and see someone with less hair or more grey or just plain older than you imagined looking back at you. Or that moment when you do the math and are shocked to discover just how many years ago it was that you went to some event, or some piece of history actually occurred.
While it is always on my mind this time of year, it’s been hard to get my head around the fact that today marks twenty years (two whole decades) since Michael died. We live in a very different world than the one back then, and both it and I have changed almost beyond recognition, but I can still clearly remember the day I got the news he was gone.
We were out driving somewhere off the beaten track, and as it was before the time of ubiquitous connectivity and instant updates via social media, it was only when I got back into mobile coverage that I started to get the text message from friends wanting to make sure I knew. It was even longer before I could get online to find out what was going on, and found even more emails and messages from all around the world. I am still grateful to those who took the time to check in, but it was a mark of the strength of our shared community—and the place he held in it.
It has changed to degree as the internet has increasing become such a foundational part of our lives, but back then a lot of people could be a bit disparaging about the idea that an online community could be a real and as important as a flesh and blood one, or that people you only knew online could matter as much friends you spent time with in the real world. But, that community still remains one of the most important influences on my life, and the friends I made there still occupy a place in my heart—and my life—and Michael was one of them.
There is always a tendency to romanticise those who are no longer with us, to exaggerate their virtues and forget their vices. We can sometimes paint a picture of someone who never really existed, and they would be unlikely to recognise themselves in our words were they to be able to read them. That’s especially true after so much time has passed and they remain stuck in a moment in your mind while you, and the world, continue to move on.
But, I will never forget the Michael I had the privilege to know, all too briefly and not half as well as I would have liked. He was a brilliant guy who excelled in his chosen field, to the point there is still an annual memorial lecture held in his honour by the university he was such a big part of. He didn’t suffer fools gladly at all, and could puncture pretension with a single cutting comment, but I never remember him punching down, or belittling or demeaning anyone in the countless debates on our message board—even though he had the intellectual gifts to do so easily.
I also remember how kind he was to a pretty raw country kid, and how respectful he was of beliefs that he didn’t really share or have that much time for because they were important to me. I remember him opening my eyes to a world of culture and music, and setting me on path to learning more about that and so much else that I am still on. I remember how much I valued our correspondence, and how despite our many differences, from where we were in our lives to who we were as individuals, he always made me feel valued. I also remember the one time we were able to meet in person, and his generous welcome to a newly married couple and the fancy dinner he gave as a gift!
Like I said, we tend to romanticise people, but I know that Michael really did leave a legacy behind that testifies to the truth of my memory of someone special. Every year a lecture is give in his name at the university where he spoke. I was left teary eyed by the tribute to him in Ran and Linda’s guide to the world of “A Song of Ice and Fire” (or Game of Thrones), making him a part of that mythos forever. And, just year, I lifted a glass of his favourite whisky, Laphroaig, in his honour with one of my oldest and closest friends from the same community where I met Michael while we talked about the impact he’d had on our lives, and on those of so many others.
Even after all this time, Michael is still remembered, and talked about, whenever a group of those of us who knew him are gathered together. He is not forgotten, and never will be. Vale, Lord Manwoody - I miss you.
P.S. Here is a link to the original eulogy that was delivered back in 2003 by someone else who knew how special he was
(This was originally posted on Facebook on Sunday but, embarrassingly, I wasn't able to get onto the board until now as it has been that long. Thank you to Ran for the assist on sorting that out. I know it may seem silly posting it late, but this is, after all, where I met Michael, so it mattered to me to do so)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jeez, twenty years?

I never met MW in person and I'm sad about that, but I remember fondly how funny, kind and intelligent he was in all our interactions. For those of us who were around in the old days he'll always be a part of the community, and I'm glad he is still being remembered. Thank you for the reminder, Cam.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the heartfelt tribute, Camaris. Many of us remember Lord Manwoody, his trenchant humor and sharp insights, and the humanity running deep beneath it all. The sort you'd want by your side in a proper Zorse War.

My late partner Lilith of Tarth met him briefly. They had dinner one evening (during Philly ComicCon? dunno) and he initiated her into the mysteries of single malt Scotch. And in a way, he brought us together -- which is another reason to salute his memory. Michael's death shook Lilith/Leila to the core, as it did so many of us who admired Manwoody. This cheerful, forward-looking woman had a glimpse of life fleeting, lonely, ugly, unfair.  She responded (as she generally did) with a stubborn vow to make something good out of the wreckage. She reached out to me, and we were a pair ever after.

And for years to follow, we'd pour out a dram of single malt in honor of our friend. Your friend. Thank you for tending his memory.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I never met nor remember having any personal interactions with Lord Manwoody, but I well remember the big impact his death had on others who post on this board and the glowing tributes to him. I am also amazed that this happened 20 years ago -- it's another example of how as one ages events you think happened ten years ago really happened twenty years ago. 

My condolences again to all of you who are having renewed grief reactions on the anniversary of this admirable man's death. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...