Sunday, November 05, 2006


We are sorry to report the passing away of our dear friend and colleague Tony Tyler. What follows is a small tribute to him, a series of posts reflecting different parts of his life and times, his talents, his range, his intelligence, his humour - all of which we will miss greatly. [Pictures from the wake at The Royal Oak in Pett by Anna Chen]

To begin, two fine obituaries from colleagues Charles Shaar Murray and Chris Salewicz, in 'The Independent and The Guardian respectively:

James Edward Anthony Tyler, writer and editor: born Bristol 31 October 1943; twice married; died Hastings, East Sussex 28 October 2006.

In his time on the New Musical Express, Tony Tyler was one of those rare, inspirational editors who can see every element of a story in a one-sentence description, and commission it on the spot: lengthy lunches discussing the piece held no interest for such a meteoric, extraordinarily intelligent and encouraging mind. Besides, only half of his teeming brain was focused on the job, as Tyler feverishly moonlighted at home on The Tolkien Companion, published in 1976 under the name of J.E.A. Tyler, which intermittently funded him for the rest of his life.

Always hilariously funny in his writing, as a human being and in his editorial roles on the increasingly surreal NME in the mid-1970s, he arrived with a romantic past. "He was the only journalist on the music press who had carried a weapon in war," said Michael Watts, a rival editor on Melody Maker. Tyler used to love telling the story of how he had been wounded in the shoulder by a bullet from an ancient musket whilst serving in the Army in Aden: half-cut, he was carrying a beer-case and didn't realise he had been shot until another private noticed blood.

He had enlisted in the Royal Tank Regiment via a circuitous route. His father, from an upper-middle-class family, had been a fighter ace in the First World War. The experience had turned him into an alcoholic. Giving up drink, he married his nurse, who was much younger than him. Their only child, James Edward Anthony Tyler, was born on Hallowe'en night in 1943 in Bristol, during a thunderstorm punctuated by a German air-raid.

Tony Tyler grew up in Liverpool, where he attended Liverpool College, at the age of 16 turning on prefects attempting another of their habitual beatings, and leaving before he could be expelled: he had one O-level, in English Literature. His mother died the next year. He became a police cadet, but quit when told his stammer was so extreme he would never be able to give evidence in court. (When people asked him later what cured his debilitating stutter, Tyler would reply, "Acid.") He found more stimulating employment as a trainee reporter on a Merseyside paper.

But Tyler had decided to become a beatnik. His best friend Tim Craig (later the father of the actor Daniel Craig) was a merchant seaman. Tyler stowed away on his Hamburg-bound ship, aware that the Beatles - whom he vaguely knew - were resident in the German port. Tyler's Bohemianism resulted only in starvation; Gerry Marsden (of Gerry and the Pacemakers) bought him the occasional meal.

After he was hospitalised with pneumonia, Tyler was sent home in 1962 by the British consulate. Noting the healthy demeanour of squaddies, he decided to enlist - after first failing in his attempt to join the French Foreign Legion. A guitarist since he was 13 - he once played in a skiffle-group with Richard Stilgoe - he was promoted to the regimental band.

When his father died in 1966, Tyler came into an inheritance, which he quickly burnt through. First buying himself and two friends out of the Army, he purchased an AC Cobra off the stand at the motor show, totalling it on his way home. Taking a job in a London musical instrument shop, he found himself playing Hammond organ in a soul group based in Italy, the Patrick Samson Set; they had a No 1 there with a cover of "A Whiter Shade of Pale".

Back in London in 1969, after writing an article for a competition run by Beat Instrumental, a music trade paper, he was offered the job of editor. Soon he became publicist for EG Management, who cared for the careers of T. Rex, King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

He was brought into the NME in 1972 by the editor Alan Smith, who was re-launching the pop paper; Tyler's zest, hilarious verve and formidable energy made him a pivot of an editorial team that included Nick Logan, who succeeded Smith in 1973 and went on to found The Face, Charles Shaar Murray, Nick Kent and Ian MacDonald. With MacDonald, he formed a double act that informed the paper's humour. It was Tyler, who adored to debunk pomposity, who, when confronted with Bryan Ferry's latest sartorial extravagance, came up with the headline "How Gauche Can a Gaucho Get?"

In 1975, his first book was published, The Beatles: an illustrated record, an astute and amusing analysis of every recorded song by the group, a collaboration with Roy Carr, another NME editor. The next year Tyler, by now NME assistant editor, advertised for "hip young gunslingers" (his own phrase) and hired Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons. Two years later, when he learned he had both The Tolkien Companion and The Beatles in the New York Times Top Ten, he decided to give up journalism and be a full-time writer. His guide to J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth was issued in new editions as The New Tolkien Companion (1979) and, again revised and updated, as The Complete Tolkien Companion (2002).

In 1982, Tyler married, as his second wife, Kate Phillips, an NME staff writer: at the time of his death they had been together for 31 years, with one of the happiest marriages any of his friends knew. He and Kate bought a house overlooking the sea outside Hastings.

Fascinated early on by the very notion of computers, Tony Tyler plunged into that emerging world, trying to bring the same sense of NME absurdity to Big K, a computer magazine he started in 1983, but which folded. He celebrated his new fascination with technology with I Hate Rock & Roll (1984). He began to write columns for the magazines MacUser and MacWorld. These were only intended to fund his efforts to be a fiction writer. He completed several novels, none of which was published. "They were so intelligent," said his agent Julian Alexander, "with incredible flights of fancy, that I don't think they were easily understood."

Tyler, who viewed life as a cosmic joke, was wryly philosophical about the failure to place these books with publishers. As he was when confronted with his cancer, diagnosed only 11 days before he died. "Shit happens, but I'm completely cool with this," he said, phoning his friends to come and visit him. He was annoyed, he said, that he would never get to see Casino Royale, starring his godson Daniel.

"I want you to know, for when your time comes," Tyler told his wife, her sister and mother two days before he died, his curiosity about the mysteries of life and death undiminished, "that this isn't really too bad. It's quite dealable with."

Chris Salewicz

Tony Tyler

NME talent spotter, Tolkien expert and computer pundit

Charles Shaar Murray

Wednesday November 1, 2006

If some of the New Musical Express's prominent writers were the faces of the 1970s paper, and editor Nick Logan and the late assistant editor Ian MacDonald functioned as its brain, then Tony Tyler, who has died of cancer aged 62, was its heart and soul. Features editor and later assistant editor during the early 70s, Tony, "the looming boomer", 6ft 5in in height with a resonant, drawling baritone, contributed irreverence and absurdist humour to the forging of the NME's identity.

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He was also an author who once had two radically different books, The Tolkien Companion (1976) and The Beatles: an Illustrated Record (1975) - the latter a collaboration with his NME colleague Roy Carr - appearing simultaneously in the New York Times best-seller lists. A gadget freak, he became the founding editor of Britain's first computer-gaming magazine, one of the earliest adopters of the Apple Macintosh and the liveliest, wittiest pundit in Macintosh journalism.

TT, as he was almost universally known, led a rich existence. During a spell in the army, he was the last British soldier to be wounded by a musket-ball. As a teenage stowaway to Hamburg, he was in an all-night card-game with a drunken, speeding pre-Beatlemania John Lennon. While working for a London musical instrument dealer in 1966, he accompanied a rented Hammond organ to the Royal Albert Hall, where he was backstage to see Bob Dylan, paralysed with stage fright, virtually thrown on stage for his legendary appearance with the Band. The same year, feeling that his Gibson Les Paul guitar deserved to be played by a better musician, he sold it to Peter Green, who had just replaced Eric Clapton in John Mayall's Blues Breakers and later founded Fleetwood Mac. Green sold it to the young Irish guitarist Gary Moore, who used it until last year. During his final week, TT was amused to learn that his old guitar was informally valued at $2m. His greatest triumph as a musician was to enjoy an Italian number-one hit the summer of 1967 as organist with the band who cut the Italian-language cover of Procol Harum's song A Whiter Shade Of Pale.

He was also godfather, albeit informally, to Daniel Craig, the new James Bond: TT had known the actor's father, Tim Craig, since they were seven years old. Since Ian Fleming was, along with PG Wodehouse and JRR Tolkien, one of Tyler's favourite authors, it was a major disappointment to TT to realise that he would not live long enough to see his godson play 007. "I'll never go to the cinema again," he said, "and I won't be around when the DVD comes out."

TT was born in Bristol, but raised around Liverpool. He attended Liverpool College but left at 16 with a single A-level. His adored mother died of cancer at the age of 39 when TT was 17, and his father, a veteran of the first world war Royal Flying Corps, not long after.

Feeling cast adrift, he signed up as a police cadet, but was told that his chronic stammer would prevent him from giving effective evidence in court. After stowing away to Hamburg on a merchant navy vessel, he hung out with soon-to-be-famous Liverpool bands such as the Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers, before contracting pneumonia and being shipped home by the British embassy. After recovering, he joined the Royal Tank regiment and was wounded in action in Aden. Because of his size, the army built him a bespoke bed, which dutifully followed him from posting to posting, but never caught up.

Back in civilian life, he sold instruments by day and played guitar and organ in groups at night, until an Italian band kidnapped him for several years on the European club circuit. On his return to London, he met and married an American student and moved to San Francisco, where he had a job as a piano salesman for 18 months, despite never selling a single piano.

Returning to London, he briefly edited the magazine Beat Instrumental before becoming a publicist for Emerson, Lake and Palmer - "I make no apologies," he later said, "though I would if I thought apology was sufficient " - but, finding both public relations and ELP uncongenial, he took the opportunity to join NME, then just about to start the radical rethink that transformed it from pop-picking chart fluff to a salon for gadflies. At the NME, Tyler demonstrated a keen eye for talent both musical and journalistic: an early champion of Roxy Music and Dr Feelgood, he was instrumental in the hiring of such writers as Nick Kent, Neil Spencer, Tony Parsons, Julie Burchill, Paul Morley, Vivien Goldman, Paul DuNoyer and Kate Phillips, with whom he fell in love and who subsequently became his second wife.

In addition to his NME duties, he wrote (as JEA Tyler) his Tolkien Companion, a massive concordance of all the people, places and things in The Lord of the Rings and its associated texts. The success of this and the Beatles book, co-written with Roy Carr, enabled him to leave the NME and retreat, with Kate, to a remote riverside cottage, which he soon filled with early personal computers. He became besotted with all things Macintosh, and his witty, anarchic punditry for magazines such as MacUser and Computer Shopper helped to keep him in fine wines and electronic keyboards for the remainder of his life.

His third book - a hilariously splenetic rant called I Hate Rock And Roll (1984) - was rather less successful, but remains a cult classic.

Outside his professional achievements, he will be remembered as a formidable autodidact who became expert on ancient and military history; as a right-wing libertarian who preferred to be surrounded by liberals and lefties "because most people who share my views are staggeringly unpleasant"; as a gourmet, oenophile and chef; as a genial host with unquenchable joie de vivre, determined to make sure everybody had fun; and as a man who remained urbane even on his deathbed. His last words, addressed to his 86-year-old mother-in-law, were: "I just want you to know, for when it's your turn, that this [dying] isn't actually so bad."

He is survived by Kate.

· James Edward Anthony Tyler, journalist, born October 31 1943; died October 28 2006


Roxy Music/ Manchester Free Trade Hall

Tony Tyler, NME, 3rd November 1973

THERE'S NOW not much doubt that when Roxy Music and the delicate Eno parted ways, Roxy lost a talented poseur but gained a gifted musician. Curiously enough, this exchange - seemingly to the advantage of the Roxettes - is not totally so: Eddie Jobson's kills on keyboards and (especially) violin are substantial. But, although he tries hard to compensate visually for the breathtaking presence of Mr. E., his more lightweight aura ( this isn't meant unkindly; Eno had years of a decadence apprenticeship) robs the stage lefthand comer of the lurid posturings so much a part of the earlier Roxy image. That being said, Jobson played really well when The Roxies took the boards at Manchester's Free Trade Hall on Sunday.

I've never really seen the band go down as well as they did with any audience, and it can only be a measure of the new stature they've attained since Bryan Ferry re-grouped his shell-shocked battalions around him after the Eno departure. On they came, dead on time, and several things were instantly obvious. Firstly, as Bob Edmands reported last week, the band have ditched the articulated rhinestone look in favour of a more individual approach to haute couture. The trash element - an important part of Roxy's earlier breakthrough is now Out Of Favour with Mr. F.; suitings and clothings ranged from Ferry's own Lower Deck Lothario Look (a cruise ship white tux ensemble) to Jobson's March Hare tailcoat. Both Phil Manzanera and the current stand-in bassist sported soft leathers, garnished with slightly effeminate studs, while the Great Paul Thompson (as Ferry introduced him) favoured his suede-'n-cloth look as of yore. Andy Mackay appeared in a baritone sax and a distinguished suit of broadcloth with a string tie that gave him an undeniable air of fried chicken emporiums.

Throughout the set - which began well and built to a tremendous climax, Ferry showed how much he now firmly believes in his own talent and charisma. He can now stagger Strandily between mike and piano, catching the spot just in time to wheeze out his next phrase. He's now an undoubted visual attraction -with one exceptional circumstance: when Ferry occupies stage right, as he must for his piano work, the rest of the visuals seem strangely empty without another real posturer to grab the retina the way Eno succeeded in doing. Ferry is now The Man in Roxy; both Manzanera and Mackay are too accomplished as musicians to unwind sufficiently. Thompson? It's not in his nature. Jobson? Trying, but he's too new and still an unknown.

Nonetheless, Jobson was, for me, the surprise of the night. His approach to electronics is more technical and less individualistic than Eno's (his mutation of the Phil Manzanera power smashes during "Ladytron" were feeble and left Manzanera somewhat out on his own with an empty chord ringing embarrassingly in his sideboard-smothered ears). But Jobson's violin work, used too sparingly until the encore, added a new force to Roxy's musical approach. His solo on "ReMake, Re-Model" exactly paralleled Manzanera's own in spirit and I foresee a formidable musical partnership between the two. Jobson's piano work, too, enabled El Ferry to cavort more than before (no doubt another reason for Ed's inclusion) -- but, then again, almost everybody in that band gets to play keyboards at one time or another. Even Andy Mackay whose sax suffered from dumpy sound - played organ on a new "Psalm", a reverent bolero type number that displayed instant powers of attraction with the Mancunians.

Sound quality throughout was grim, several different varieties of feedback dominating much of the set. The onstage footlight monitors were (I later learned) also on the blink, so there was an imbalance between Ferry's voice, which needs - and got - all the help it can get, and the potential thunder of this new, beefed-up Roxy. All too often the band merged into a noisy porridge and I feel a re-think of sound techniques is essential if the band are successfully to conclude that transition from effeminate glitzkriegers to A Band In Their Own Right. But it was quite an immaculate gig, all found. The older numbers were joyously received and the newer tunes politely listened to. Towards the end, Emerson Lake and Palmerama took over with row upon row of misbegotten youth swaying to the hypnotic sighs of Mr. F. and raising their hands in sincere salutation. Some even rushed the stage. I suppose it was easily predictable, now I come to think of it.

See our previous posting about Tony's classic cult book
'I hate Rock and Roll'

Friday, November 03, 2006


Tony was an earlier enthusiast for Apple Macs and began writing a regular column for MacUser magazine. His first column appeared in Issue 2 and he was still at it 22 years later. His last column, written for the magazine's October 2006 issue is reproduced below with the kind permisson of the publishers.

Shutdown: Talking shock

Forget bugged employees and exploding laptops - the real shocker is Woz giving a talk to business students. Or is it?

Which of the following recent news items concerning the IT world do you find the most disturbing?

HP chairman Patricia Dunn gets caught bugging her fellow directors in order to find out which of them is leaking to the IT press. Makes usual statement of semi-contrition and resigns.

Across the world, laptop batteries are catching fire, with consequently huge crash programme recall operations by major manufacturers.

A recent report (by think-tank Reform) claims that the 'iPod Generation' - 20- to 35-year-olds - will be caught in a fiscal trap composed of huge tuition fees and ever-higher income tax and as a result will never, ever get rich.

On 23 October at the Saïd Biz Centre at Oxford University, Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, will give a short talk on the company's history.

Let's take these shock-horrors in order. In my opinion, Ms Dunn is a cruelly wronged woman. What could be more natural, if you fear one of your colleagues is sabotaging your company, than to slip a little something extra into his mobile phone? It might even be said to be caring in the best sense. There's no suggestion she did it for her own profit. J Edgar Hoover, that great American icon, bugged President Roosevelt. President Nixon bugged himself. We are, therefore, dealing with a fine old US tradition. Ms Dunn should be reinstated forthwith.

The brouhaha about exploding laptop batteries has also been overstated. Everything in the modern world catches fire from time to time - planes, cars, houses - and the procedures for dealing with conflagrations are well established. In any case, it's not claimed the things go off like hand grenades. Apparently, they smoulder gently, giving off an acrid smoke until some joker says, 'Hey, your computer's on fire!' whereupon it's simplicity itself to park the laptop in the nearest sinkful of water and wait for the fumes to disperse. The only real danger I can see is if the phenomenon takes place, say, on a tube train. It only takes one person to yell: 'Watch out! Suicide Photoshopper!' and within a few seconds, you may find yourself riddled with bullets, courtesy of a Metropolitan Police hit squad.

The fiscal nightmare awaiting the iPod Generation is only a nightmare if you happen to be in that age group and just starting university. I'm neither and, according to the MacUser Readership Profile, neither are you. So we can afford to laugh lightly and uncaringly at this one, especially as we're the ones who benefit. The reason these callow freshmen are to be taxed and fee'd until their eyes water is to pay for our pensions. The reason the Government desperately wants to pay us our pensions is that we are the largest voting group. The fact that there's no money for this is why the iPod Generation are going to be smitten hip and thigh. Seems all right to me.

Last, we come to Steve Wozniak among the dreaming spires. At the beginning, I thought this was a cruel joke. The only time I ever heard Woz speak it was something on the lines of 'Wow, that's, like, really far out, man. Totally outasite, you know?' However, I gather he must have improved since then, as his website says he's available for 'selected keynote presentation, panel and open Q&A appearances'. He also has a book out (iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon). He no longer lives in the desert changing his shirt once a fortnight, but is a big wheel in the Southern California charity circuit. He has also, according to his website, 'given away 14 laptops and never asked for one of them back.'

But how does this gifted, saintly person get to be a breadhead's ideal after-dinner speaker? From their point of view (not mine), he's done just about everything wrong. Left Apple at the wrong moment and for the wrong reasons. Gives stuff away...

Personally I think that this is an exceptionally cunning booking. If, at vast cost, the SBC procured the Other Steve to lecture the boys and girls, they would learn absolutely nothing about how he did it. But by engaging Woz, the schedulers are employing a man whose business autobiography could fairly be entitled 'How I Blew It'. Blowing It is the big fear among suits. As such, they'll learn more, in an inverse sense, from Woz, than from all the raging success stories on the planet. They'll deduce that genius and loyalty aren't enough: you have to be a dedicated a**hole to get really rich.

Since this is what they think already, I predict he'll get a big hand. Now, that I find depressing.


Priory Tree, Lewes. Photo: John May. For more Lewes pictures see Lewes Light

One of Tony's other great loves was the works of Tolkien. He was the author of the best-selling book 'The Tolkien Companion' (revised and updated twice as 'The New Tolkien Companion' (1979) and 'The Complete Tolkien Companion' (2002). Featured below is the piece he was kind enough to write for Tree News, the magazine I edited for five years. Having settled the commission on the phone, I had cause to call him some 30 minutes later about some second-thoughts I'd had about the piece and he told me he'd already filed the copy - the fastest turnaround I'd ever come across. Sure enough, there was the copy which, barring a couple of tweaks, went in unedited.

‘A lovely morning dawned on us... Leaves are out: the white-grey of the quince, the grey-green of young apple, the full green of hawthorn, the tassels of flower even on the sluggard poplar.’
- Letter to Christopher Tolkein, 18th April 1944 (‘The Letters of J.R.R Tolkien’ [Unwin, 1981] )

All his long life J. R. R. Tolkien was in love with trees. It has been said that the leading character in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is not one of the many elvish, mortal, dwarven or hobbit personalities, but its landscape; its mountains, rivers and particularly its trees. They grace nearly all his descriptive passages, and in several places play a major part in the tale itself.

There are the gentle ‘ English’ woodlands of the Shire, where the adventure begins; the deep, scented pine woods that surround the enchanted valley of Rivendell, the ancient and beautiful holly trees that mark the borders of a vanished elf-kingdom, and the Golden Wood of Lothlorien, where the silver-barked golden-flowered forest giants are of a genus (mallorn) unknown elsewhere in Middle-earth— these trees are so tall and strong that the Elves build their houses in them.

In fact, trees of one kind or another are nearly everywhere in the Ring landscape, and when they are not, it is because something terrible has happened there— like the Brown Lands, or the desolation before the Black Gate of Mordor. These are evil deserts, shunned by all life.

Tolkien’s view of trees was by no means confined to a benign sentimentality. In Middle-earth, you hug some trees at your peril. There are enormous, dark, coniferous forests where evil creatures thrive while ‘the trees strive one against another and their branches rot and wither.’

There is the
Old Forest, where the hobbits have their first real adventure, a terrifying encounter with sentient, malevolent and limb-lithe trees, ‘ageing no quicker than the hills, the fathers of the fathers of trees, remembering times when they were lords... But none were more dangerous than the Great Willow.’

Most memorably, there is Fangorn, as old as the Old Forest and far greater, though, as Elrond of Rivendell reveals, in the deep past the two were parts of a single immense primaeval wood. ‘Time was when a squirrel could go from tree to tree from what is now the Shire to Dunland west of Isengard’ (i.e. over a thousand miles).

Fangorn is the last abode in Middle-earth of creatures called Ents, and to explain Ents we must invoke Tolkien’s own cosmogony, his ‘alternative Book of Genesis’.

Middle-earth is not really an imaginary world. As Tolkien was always at pains to stress, it is our world in an imaginary time, and comes fully furnished with creation myths, ancient history and legends— an enormous mass of material which represents his life’s work.

In this myth cycle, the world (Arda) is created by The One (God), but in all matters of detail is embellished, shaped and added to by delegated angelic powers (Valar). Yavanna is the name of the Vala who peoples the earth with growing things, including trees, at the beginning of Time before either Elves or Men have appeared. But her foresight tells her that her creations will be in danger--mainly from things that go on two legs, armed with axes--and so she obtains, as a dispensation from God, the power to send spirits to dwell in, and with, the trees, to act as their shepherds and defenders.

These giant creatures (something like the Green Man of English myth) are the Ents. Treebeard is their chieftain and, at the time of the Ring adventure, the oldest of all living things. At Treebeard’s instigation, the Forest of Fangorn itself— or a good part of it— arises in anger (at centuries of axe-abuse) and marches to war, like Birnam Wood in ‘MacBeth’ but in a far more terrifying manner: an entire goblin army is annihilated by the vengeful trees, while the Ents overthrow the citadel of their master, the wizard Saruman.

But the War of the Ring is fought, not only to defeat the eponymous evil Lord, but to restore the rightful King of Gondor to his throne. As a reader gradually discovers, the history of Gondor is very ancient, the kingdom having been founded three thousand years earlier by survivors from Nümenor (Atlantis).

The symbol of this ancient and high royal line is a White Tree, itself a descendant of the White Tree of the Valar in
Paradise. It is therefore the holiest of trees (cf. The Glastonbury Thorn) in the world and its recent death was thought to presage the fall of the kingdom. Luckily, after all is done and the victory won, the restored King of Gondor finds a surviving sapling growing in a high mountain-pasture--the symbol of a direct continuity with the deepest past, and the best of all omens for the future.

The most poignant tree-moment of all in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ occurs near its end, when the hobbits ride home to the Shire--to find it horribly vandalised in their absence by Saruman’s agents. When Sam, in many ways the most heroic of all the hobbits, discovers that a particularly beloved tree in the field behind his home has been wantonly cut down, he bursts into tears.

Later, of course, after much labour, most of the damage is put right and the fallen ‘Party Tree’ is replaced by a single Mallorn, the only one in the world ‘West of the Mountains and East of the Sea’. So the trees win— this time.

But despite the heroism of its protagonists, and the success of their quest, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is, at bottom, a sorrowful book; and when one of the characters asks Gandalf that, even if they should win the victory, ‘may it not so end that much that was fair and wonderful may pass for ever out of Middle-earth?’, the wizard has no words of comfort for him.

Tolkien himself was far from sanguine about the ability of trees to defend themselves against ill-wishers. Writing in 1962 to his elderly aunt Jane Neave, he recalled ‘a great tree--a huge poplar with vast limbs--visible through my window even as I lay in bed. I loved it, and was anxious about it. It had been savagely mutilated some years before, but had gallantly grown new limbs... and now a foolish neighbour was agitating to have it felled. Every tree has its enemy, few have an advocate.’