My friend Rich Troll died at the weekend. We met over the internet when I was 17. I met him twice - he lived in New York, so our friendship was mainly conducted by email. He was only forty or so, and his death was so sudden that I still can't quite believe he is not going to be checking his email again. There are so many beautiful things about him, that it's hard to confine myself to just three. But as a writer himself, I'm sure he would appreciate the discipline.
1. If you sent Rich your novel asking for his thoughts, he would actually read it and then send back a long report, pulling no punches at all.
2. Rich encouraged me in my webzine days, contributing, commenting and subbing. He shepherded me through a German expressionist film fad. He sent me flatteringly intellectual books to help my writing or to answer some of my many questions.
3. He was a dedicated parcel poster. Every birthday and every Christmas, and oftentimes in between, a box would appear with a book, CD or afilm he thought might please me, usually packed round with a few sweets and a small extra present for a friend I might have mentioned.
For the last ten years I have been saying: 'One day, I'm going to visit New York and Rich will show me round.' I never did because it never even crossed my mind that one day it might be too late. But now it is and I've missed an entertaining, quirky tour that would take in film sights, historical oddities and curious miscellanea, spiced by his thoughtful opinions. Readers: never assume it can wait.