The Early Days of a Better Nation

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Graham Joyce

Today there is a memorial meeting for Graham Joyce. For various reasons and much to my regret I'm unable to attend but I would like to mark the occasion in some way, however inadequately. I only met Graham a few times, mostly at SF conventions, but from the moment Iain Banks or John Jarrold introduced us he treated me as if we were old friends. Every quality of his character he had in exactly the right proportion: funny without being flippant, serious without being dour, manly without being macho, confident without being arrogant. He was bright and sharp and uproarious and surprising. Everyone who met him will have anecdotes.

There was the time he sat in the bar with John Jarrold, and out of nowhere the two of them launched into a phenomenal flyting as Shakespearean villains. The vilest insults poured forth for minute after minute, in thieves' cant and Elizabethan profanity and perfect iambic pentameter. I looked on, slack-jawed. How did they do that? Had they memorised it?

No, it's all spontaneous, Graham told me. But how?

'It's just a knack.'

Read his books. They'll do you good.


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