Benjamin, Michael’s son, has kindly provided our local paper in Lewes with the sad news. I first met Mike, as he came to be known, at a Cub Scout meeting, where at about the age of 8 he turned up one Saturday morning with both arms in supporting frames while he was recovering from polio. Despite his very obvious impediment he participated in the rough and tumble of all sorts of games, and graduated through to become troup leader of the First Lewes Scouts. In late July 1958 he and I made a 3-day hike across Ashdown Forest, a wild area of the High Weald of Sussex and home of Winnie the Pooh, wild camping as we went. Needless to say his campfire yarns were riveting to his somewhat less articulate 16-year old companion, but we did get around to discussing whether platonic love and current girlfriends were compatible.
As the town’s pre-eminent scout, Mike was appointed to represent Lewes at the international Scouting Jamboree, held that year in Sutton Coldfield. When asked how he enjoyed the week at the subsequent district meeting, he rather shocked some attendees by saying that he had enjoyed the opportunity to read War and Peace in its entirety. I was not surprised at how his outstanding career in academia developed, and can imagine that he impressed all he met with his Tigger-like enthusiasm for living, as well as his brilliance.