Yesterday, I learned Graham Joyce had died. Whilst the news didn't come as a shock - he had been seriously ill for some time - it was no less saddening.
I first met Graham many years ago at a SF convention in Birmingham: Twenty-One Con, if my memory serves me right. I was sitting in the bar with Peter Coleborn and David Sutton when Stephen Jones introduced us to this new star in the writing firmament. I don't think any of us attended a single event at the convention that day: just sat in the bar drinking, talking; Graham happy to keep a bunch of weirdoes he'd never met before amused with tales of Greece and teaching.
Later we all went to a Chinese restaurant just off Hurst Street in Birmingham's China Town, crowding around a circular table which sported a tiny vase in the centre, containing a single flower. The talk and laughter continued. On a nearby table a bunch of girls kept glancing over at us - maybe in admiration, but more likely in alarm at the subject matter.
At the end of the evening we all stood to leave - except David, who was trapped at the back of the table. Graham snatched up the single flower, handed it one of the girls, saying: "It's from him." He pointed to a bemused David - and legged it.
My earliest memory of Graham, and one that's always stuck with me: the grinning, irrepressible joker. The world's a dourer place at his passing.
Photograph copyright 2007 Peter Coleborn.