The August 2010 pub meet, book signing, and wake

Anagrammers converged to celebrate their art, the life of a recently departed anagrammer, and one of our own publishing a tome on anagrams. Chris Sturdy ('Horrid Stretchy Pus' to his friends) prepared the following write-up (I've just made minor changes and added the anagrams, images, etc.).

Saturday 21st August 2010 saw another meeting of anagrammatists at the Metropolitan Bar, Baker Street. In the last two years or so there have been an unusually large number of get-togethers, with such luminaries as Larry Brash, Meyran Kraus and Andrew Brehaut visiting the UK. Apart from myself, David Bourke and Tony Crafter being ever present for these visits and many more besides, the other regular you could rely on coming to such occasions [IMG: Mug shot of Mick was Mick Tully. So it was with great sadness on Tuesday the 17th that we were told of his death by his sister Clare, who emailed from Mick's computer the handful of us who had been planning the meet. Those that knew him will be aware he had been in particularly poor health for a year or so and had also been coping with deteriorating eyesight for several years following a stroke, but he had been so full of life, so looking forward to Saturday's meet and so recently prolific with his usual amusing, thoughtful and creative output on alt.anagrams that it came as a real shock to us all. More about Mick later...

[IMG: Old photo of Zoran] The original reason for a meet this summer (and frankly we don't really need an excuse to get a few beers in and rearrange our words, sometimes unintentionally, depending on how much ale is consumed!) was that our Serbian friend Zoran Radisavljevic has finally finished his magnum opus, World of Anagrams, that he has been researching and compiling on and off for the last four years or so. He had announced his intention to come on a tour about a month ago, but the date was only decided on a few days beforehand and then came the shock news of Mick's passing, so it has been a busy week for the community with emails flying in all directions.

The book that Zoran presented to us at the pub on Saturday contains highlights of the collected works of some very talented people, and it also provides a unique compilation of biographical notes and mug shots of the dozens of contributors, making it a real treasure trove of information if you always wondered where your fellow contributors are and what they look like. That aside, the book is packed full of some very fine anagrams and other fascinating word puzzles. Details of how to get hold of a copy appear further down...

I have made some really good friends from my time writing anagrams, but over the last week I was given a wonderful reminder of just how close-knit a group we are. The nature of the tributes that have come from all over the world since Mick died show how big an impression and how big a contribution he has made to our lives over the last 12 years or so.

"Sorry to hear this" = "Hearts, or history"
- alt.anagrams lurker Alan J.

Mey made the observation in the notes accompanying his beautiful Shakespearean sonnet-a-gram that while Mick may have posted nigh on 20000 posts to alt.anagrams over the years, the chances are [IMG: Mick borrows Lardy's hair] that a good half of them will have been praise, comment or encouragement to other posters, such was his generous nature. And you only have to look at how thoughtfully he co-ordinated the cheering up of Maurice Goddard (Rag Mo) when he went to hospital with a brain cyst to show he could be a really caring friend.

(In the photo at left, Mick takes a shortcut to a long-haired look.)

Sonnet Thirty
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish'd sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.


My final answer to my friends
I - on the edge of a supernal night -
Can't fathom why these relatives and friends
Had wept and wondered how can someone end,
And asked if me I've seen some giant lights...
Essentially, I scoff at this exchange;
Love's peaceful force and faith kept me content.
Ten thousand anagrams I wrote and sent,
Until no words were there to rearrange.
Life was these lights, so, on this heavy note,
Life never ends for someone who is whole -
You only reach a point where life's too numb.
Right now, I wish I'd chased that one big goal;
I wish I had... but now, it's so remote.
Perhaps, for once, I'd lie down and succumb.

- Meyran Kraus

Stopping by woods on a snowy evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake,
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


Keeping vigil on the night of a wake

Us peers and kin and friendly folk
Have rendezvoused to praise this bloke
And yet, it's quite the downward slope
For all the grief this might evoke.

The key is not to weep and mope
If we are hungering to cope;
We'd sip some beers and have some fun -
He'd like it, too (or so we hope).
And so, we hear the stories spun
Of who he was or what he's done,
Yet know his fable as a whole
Might not be known to anyone.

The heavy loss might take its toll,
Yet we should remedy this hole;
We raise some pints to bless his soul,
We raise some pints to bless his soul.

- Meyran Kraus again

[IMG: Mick in a photo by WTP]

There was also a mischievous side to Mick's nature that could make him somewhat frustrating, and he was known to wind people up even amongst those that knew him as a friend with his outspoken opinions and his sometimes outrageous alter egos, but as Larry said in his personal tribute, there has been a lot of water under the bridge since those days and in fact the two of them met in the Metropolitan Bar in 2008, and they had made their peace.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
  - Dylan Thomas


An old goat and gent...

Today the gang toast high
Outgoing friend, glad heart,
Among the best codgers,
Son of Ireland, yahoo -
Tully, a delight.

          - Lardy Girl

I was not on the scene when we, the anagramming community, sadly lost a regular contributor, Daniel F. Etter, suddenly in 2000, but I know how keenly the others rallied round and honoured his memory, so it was particularly nice and not unexpected to hear unanimous approval to the proposal by Larry Brash (the current Awardmaster of the Anagrammy Forum) that the annual award to the year's most consistent contributor will be renamed to commemorate Mick.

Anyway, this meeting write-up has become a eulogy, a book review, a compilation of tributes and a brief(ish) history of the international anagramming community's activities for the last decade or so. For what it's worth, here are the more prosaic details from my perspective of how Saturday (and indeed Sunday) went...

Although I knew the meet was due to start at noon rather than our more traditional 6pm on a Thursday, I had some stuff to do in Horsham until 12.30 and I made haste to Baker Street having neither eaten nor spoken to anyone directly about my timing for the day. I got there at about ten past two and managed to walk right past the table where Tony and Zoran were sitting, through the pub, and was doing my second lap when tc waved at me. I could see these two, with much to catch up on, had got stuck into the strong stuff and were in need of another beer, and being the latecomer went to the bar. When I returned, Mick's brother-in-law Stanley Bill (style in ball) and Mick's great friend Ian Stewart (Ian C Stewart - attain screw / Ian Cameron Stewart - a warm, erect onanist / a 'no water' miscreant) had arrived. Zoran was in fine form. He had been over to London previously in 2004, when we had had as far as I know, the largest and best attended of all our gatherings.

World of Anagrams = Slogan: A "Word Farm"
    - Earth Jargon

Armed with a massive suitcase containing at least 20 copies of his marvellous book, each weighing in at 1.1kg, he had travelled by coach from Novi Sad, via Germany and The Netherlands, to be there and had been entertaining himself since just gone noon until Tony got in at 1pm, so he was already decidedly merry.

Ian and Stan availed themselves of some Abbot Ale (Mick's favourite) and we all began to chat about Mick. I passed on what specific messages I had to the meet and we raised the first of many toasts. Some people had sent messages specifically to the meetees regarding

Mick Tully was rare as a friend. So long. Cheerio. =
I see alt.anagrams chronicled your life's work.
  - Horrid Stretchy Pus

toasts and also their apologies for not being able to make it including Wayne Baisley, Larry Brash, Judson Pewther, Rosie Perera, Pedt from a.a (real name unknown to me), my cousin Louisa, to whom Mick had taken a real shine at the three meets she had attended, my sister Kate (who had come along when Mey was in town last year and had met Mick then) and many more besides.

(The assembled company, as shown in the photo from left to right: Ian Stewart (aka Larry Brash), Chris Sturdy, Tony Crafter, Zoran Radisavljevic, Stanley Bill (Mick's brother-in-law). Zoran's book is on the table. David arrived later. Behind the photo is a link to Chris's full-size version, weighing in at over 3 MB.)

[IMG: The assembled company] As is often the case and a source of constant amusement to db, I took out my trusty notepad and discovered it was the same one I had had with me when the venerable Mike Keith had come over in 2006. This Groundhog-Day-like revisiting of the scene of me hunched over a beer and a notepad (see page 180 of the book!) was captured wonderfully in Wayne's anagram for the occasion - Metropolitan Bar, Baker Street = Temporal retreat, a bit bonkers. The conversation ranged from the exploits of Pudni Wasti (one of Mick's best known alter egos, the 'name' spells "It's a wind-up" backwards) to the price of beer in Prague, to Arabic insults, to long-forgotten 'grams (often prompted by dipping into the book).

An epitaph for Mick = I'm a top prank chief.
      - Judson Pewther

An epitaph for Mick Tully = Try a polite plan: Fuck him!
      - A cheeky (Mick would approve, I'm sure) David Bourke

Across the pond my friend is gone
I'll miss his treasured wit
And always will look back upon
My love for one fine Brit.
Wow, icon Mick Tully died? Ow. Probably my greatest online friend. His larks and spoofs live on in hearts, a smile for us.
      - Earth Jargon

We lubricated our thoughts with real ale or, in Zoran's case, copious pints of Stella Artois (retail at loss) and eventually succumbed to hunger and grabbed a mixed grill at the rather random time to eat of 4pm! Zoran signed some books and Stan bought some more for Mick's family. Tony was on the phone with William Tunstall-Pedoe, who was sadly thwarted in his desire to join us from Cambridge by a train cancellation, and also from David Bourke, who was delayed in arriving. The upshot of it all was while we were many there in spirit, tc had to leave at 4.45 and db arrived shortly afterwards so at max, we were only 5-strong at any one time, which was a slight shame.

I got a few pictures (and I think so did Zoran and Ian), enlisting random people from the pub as our photographers in the time-honoured tradition, and I therefore have a couple of pictorial permutations that include tc and db (but not both at the same time).

Stan retired somewhat the worse for wear at about 7 (as far as I remember?!) with a much heavier bag than he had had when he arrived, filled as it was with copies of Zoran's book, and then came the exciting arrangements of what to do next. Over a couple more pints of Abbot, we discovered that Zoran's accommodation plans had somewhat fallen through and the elegant solution arose that db kindly volunteered to drive me and Zoran back to my house near Horsham, where a spare bedroom awaited him! Just as we were leaving the Metropolitan Bar, I got a text message from Lardy Girl (Anna Shefl), which was very thoughtful, and we raised our glasses once more to Mick's memory before disbanding into the night.

August Sixteenth Two Thousand and Ten =
We shout out, stunned and aghast, in text.

The Anagrammatist Mick Tully =
That smartly immaculate king

Mick Tully, man among men =
Calmly making monument
     - Earth Jargon, raising his glass later, in a.a

Old anagrammers don't die, they just live on for ever.... =
M.Tully resting, deserved a major, fond ovation here!
     - Rag Mo

As tc had said earlier in the meet, we kept expecting Mick to walk in and join us at any minute and the thought that we will not see him again is a sad one. We have been invited to attend his funeral in Ruislip on Thursday 2nd September (details tba) and were encouraged to pass on any pictures we have of Mick. Many of the wonderful tributes that have been flooding in for Mick have already been passed on to his family, including a moving toast from Anna, a piece of mastery from Mey and some lovely personalised anagrams and memories from other close friends and fellow anagrammatists.

To end, I would like to quote perhaps the most fitting and succinct anagram of all, by Mick's and our friend and colleague, db:

Michael Tully, rest in peace = Ultimately in place...cheers!

PS   Zoran was obviously pretty knackered from his travelling and fine Belgian refreshment, as it wasn't until 10 the next morning that I fed him some tea and toast and put him on a train to London. I hope the rest of his book tour is a great success and would recommend you get a copy. [World of Anagrams by Zoran Radisavljevic (ISBN 9788676861422) is introduced to the world on a Facebook group, found at Horrid suggests mailing Zoran directly, at for more details on the book and how to get a copy for yourself.]

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