Phoenix Rising - For Kate's family and friends

Kate Harding passed away on October 2nd 2014. An outpouring of tributes, love and beautiful memories poured onto Facebook and I felt as much of this as possible should be collated in one place. This is for Kate's parents in particular, Sue and Dick Harding, and for her sister, Emily, who may not be connected to all of Kate's friends online and therefore could miss things. I also fear the ephemeral nature of Facebook would make it too easy for something to be lost.

This website was designed and built by Kate. I hope I don't upset anyone by this collation, I declare no ownership of anything said or posted by any one else and will credit to the best of my ability. I am grieving, intensely, so please forgive mistakes or oversights. They are not intentional.

If you object to my collating your tribute/photo/video here, please let me know via the contact page and I will remove it as soon as possible with my deepest apologies. If there is something you've seen and is not here, please contact me here or on Facebook to point me to it, so I may add it. If you would like to add your own memories of Kate or tributes to her, please do so in the comments below.

A memory space for Kate, set up by Ellen Clegg, to collate fundraising efforts in her memory in aid of the charity MIND can be found here:

With love, Em xx

Photos of Kate

Links to videos of Kate

Tributes to Kate

Kate Harding

1973 – 2014

Re’th fo cres, myrgh Kernow

Dedication by Karen Stocker Pickett. This Cornish phrase translates as: "May there be peace with you, Daughter of Cornwall"

Following the death on Thursday of our beloved daughter Kate and Emily’s adored big sister, we have become increasingly astonished by the outpouring of comments and love from so many people in so many walks of life across the globe, who clearly thought very highly of her. It seems she touched the lives of all she met in ways that will linger as cherished memories for all of you. As an example, I remember an occasion when we went to visit her in her flat just off the North Circular Road, when the doorman realised who we were his whole face lit up and he went to great pains to tell us how much he thought of her and how kind she was.

Sue and I are so very grateful to you all for the obvious high regard in which she was held. It comforts us to know she was loved wherever she went. Over the last few dreadful months, many of you have gone out of your way to protect and support her in the unwavering belief that all would eventually be well. You know who you are, you have our undying gratitude and should you, in your turn, ever need help you have only to ask. She said to us herself, “don’t worry, all will eventually be well”.We would love to see any one who knew her and wants to tell us more about our firstborn, so if ever you are in Cornwall look us up.

From your comments, we have learned many things about the character of our little girl of which we were previously largely unaware. She was never one to sing her own praises, indeed in many respects she was a very private person, even with us. It is through you all that we have an increased understanding of her many talents and also a greater awareness of her times of deep depression, the severity of which she successfully hid from us so as not to cause us pain. We knew she had troubled times but she would say “I need you not to worry, it makes it worse for me” and so of course we worried the more and in turn hid it from her.

As you all know, she was highly intelligent and fiercely independent so that when, at times, she asked for or was offered help she would say: “Oh! Dad I am supposed to be able to stand on my own two feet” She was also very beautiful in both her manner and her appearance. She was a good, kind and gentle human being.

She was three days short of being brought home to Cornwall for us to take care of and mend. It was all arranged, the room ready and the food in the freezer. Today, we are having lamb for lunch, bought before she died so that she might have something she liked for her first Sunday lunch with us after coming home.

For those who do not know, she was born in Redruth, Cornwall, in the shadow of Carn Brae on the 13th March 1973 and came into this world quickly and easily. From the age of two she grew up in East Anglia and it is from there that she went out into the world. Her talents showed from an early age, reading at aged two, learning to ballet dance , and somewhere we have a poster paint painting of a daffodil of exquisite detail done when she was three. She was frighteningly good across a broad spectrum, at anything she turned her hand to. Where she found time for it all is a mystery.

We will bring her home and when all the fuss is over and, on a good day, we will scatter her at the top of Carn Brae, a place she loved to visit when at “home”. It overlooks the place of her birth. She will have come full circle.In the years to come, if any of you pass that way, spare a thought for her on top of her hill with her own angels and perhaps, when your turn comes, you will find her dancing somewhere waiting for you.

With our enduring love to you all,

Richard, Sue and Em Davey

"The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you have burned so very very brightly."
  • Dr. Eldon Tyrell

Dom Camus

A tribute on Dom Camus's website.

I met Kate Harding on a Tuesday evening in October 1996. The internet forgets nothing, and tells me that it was the 22nd. The same list of events reminds me of two previous occasions on which I might have encountered her in passing, but I believe that had I spoken with her on either of them I would have remembered. One does not forget Kate's full attention.

On the evening of Tuesday 22nd October 1996, Kate and her best friend Amanda ate chicken and chips, and then needed to transform themselves respectively into Meridian Macey-Dare and Aesha van Dieman. They needed the tissues I happened to be carrying before they could touch their costumes. Both were suprisingly grateful, but I soon realised how much these transformations mattered to them both.

Naturally Meridian Macey-Dare, adventuress extraordinaire, turned out to be a false identity for a Russian noble. Kate always committed to her fiction, and would not pretend to be one person when she could pretend to be two.

My second truly important memory of Kate involved food too, and must have been close to a year later. As a poor student, a bacon sandwich was an impressive gift to me, especially coming from the housemate of the person I was really there to see. I will never know whether this gift and the urgent phrase "Have more bacon! Have more bacon!" signified as much to her as they did to me. It seems unlikely, since all it really was, was the moment I realised I had a friendship coming my way. Kate intended that already. I could not have known then how joyful that friendship would be, or how special my friend, how wonderful and magical. The memory pushes it all to one point. Since then Kate was one of my people, and I was one of hers.

Kate gave me many other things. Most of all her time, which alone would have been gift enough. Her insight. Her advice and support through some tough patches. Her mockery when I needed it, since I am a man who appreciates mockery and she read me well enough to know when to give it. One time an angel made from a shuttlecock, with paper wings and a piped icing face. Another time a total eclipse of the sun, which astronomers claim has something to do with the moon's orbit. My ability to see it had much to do with the very generous hosting of Kate's grandmother and parents. I know this but still, to me, it was another experience Kate arranged for her friends to enjoy together. She gave me transient things that last forever.

Of course the games. The play-acting through which many of us were working out how to live. At one time or another Kate has become, for a few hours at a stretch, a sister to me, a lover, a daughter or a wife. Sometimes an enemy, but still a joy and always an inspiration. We pretended those relationships, but what was real, what we were both saying, was "I love you, I trust you, and we will always be friends".

May her soul have mercy on God. I'm not qualified to say anything about God. But what my sleeping mind was saying about Kate is true. Those who loved her feared her judgement, and rightly so. When she told you what was wrong with you, it was not to complain. It was because she knew she could make you see it too, and make you a better person for seeing.

It is a privilege to have known that the world had such a person in it. It is an outrage that the world, through her illness, tied Kate down and stopped her doing what she loved, that those around her loved too. I should have done more for her. But, if everyone who loved Kate spent as much time with her as they wanted to and could have done, then she would not have had a moment's peace in over 40 years.

To within a month, I knew Kate for 18 years. Within a month, half my life. It was easily the better half. I have had nothing but love and happiness from her over those years and I am a better person for it. Since three days ago I have tears, which are here only because the good was so good. Thank you, Kate, and good bye. I love you.

Steve Jessop

One of the pillars of my life has gone and I cannot function. I have lost my closest friend, Kate Harding, who died yesterday. She influenced me in more ways than I can count. She and I were so similar we used to laugh about the rare things that we did not share, in amazement, with delight that we could be so close, so deliciously, beautifully entangled at the roots and yet find these odd discrepancies between us. There is not a room in this house, nor in this broken heart that does not hold something she gave to me with such love, such thoughtfulness. I simply do not understand this world still being here without Kate in it. We had so much left to make together, so much to do! I will never stop missing her.

Emma Newman

I had not seen her in years. Yet, she was part of my life. Long ago she passed that point when someone becomes a friend for life, someone to whom the connect is for always. She was part of my life. She is part of my life. Amanda, Eleanor, Richard, Andre, and, of course, Warlock: I feel our connection today, deeply, I feel your warmth, your love for each other, on this 'happentrack' that we walk, that brought us together. Kate made that happentrack. Without her scribbled notes, in that spider script handwriting of hers that was an art in itself, without those notes passed through a long dead observatory building, I would not feel what I feel today from all of you. So, thank you, my dear, beloved Kate, for your irreplaceable magic.

Laura Watts

I'm still trying to find the words to go with the photo I posted this morning. That's Kate, photographed less than 24 hours after I first met her (and Amanda, and Laura), back in the early 90s. Our friendship was instant, comfortable, and deep, as if we'd already known each other for years. And she died yesterday. The world is a little less bright, a little less clever, and a little less beautiful for her no longer being in it. The sun is shining, but there is some warmth missing from it today. My profound thanks to everyone who has found so many beautiful photos of Kate, and to those who have recounted their memories of her. Today Facebook has seemed, to me, devoid of cats, or travel woes, or all the other trivialities it usually holds, and has instead been an outpouring of tributes for someone I loved, whose briefest touch into the lives of others seems to have been a profound, loving, light-bringing thing. Those still aren't the right words, but they'll have to do for today.

Richard Cronan

I'm still waiting to hear that it's all been a terrible mistake. It just seems so unlikely - so improbable - that Kate's very particular light won't shine on us any more. Of the many, many people who love Kate, I didn't love her the longest, and I didn't love her the best, but I have the privilege of being close to some of those who did. And my heart breaks for you all knowing that however deep this loss runs for me, for you it's so much deeper. The loss of a sister, a part of yourselves. Kate was unique - for once not a cliche. She brought things to our lives that no one ever shall again. We'll miss her. And we'll always be grateful to have known her and had her love. It shouldn't have been so brief. Warlock, Amanda, Richard, Adam, Adam and Martin... My love and my sympathy is with you most.

Eleanor Bullimore

I met Kate Harding through gaming, initially as a GM of a large game that I struggled through and later as part of a smaller group who played an assortment of oddities and homebrews (and which triggered one of my favourite gaming moments – as my NPC and her PC delicately came out to each other with varying degrees of confidence).

But it was the active, physical games played across last year that I remember best. There were room escapes at two venues, a spy themed treasure hunt in St James’s and Westminster (we won by a ridiculous margin), an apocalypse in the Square Mile (won by an even more ridiculous margin) and the all day madness of a spy game in the style of the Bourne movies (my absolute favourite gaming experience ever, even if it nearly wiped my out) that took weeks of planning but worked out so incredibly well. Those are the memories I want to hang on to; of her energy, passion, insane competitiveness and great joy in new experiences.

There were other things last summer, great fun we shared, but those were the ones that set me off right now and apparently made me able to write something at last. I’m going home now, happy to let the rain cloud my eyes, to try not to think about things never said and memories that will never be had.

Jonathan Lee

Small Seismic Event; From combat boots to Comme il Faut, you rocked my world RIP Kate

Reuben Wright

I haven't known Kate as long as some people. I can pinpoint the date precisely - the 10th of April 2010. We had been invited to the second of the White Knot weeks, a whole bunch of gamers staying together in an old manor house in Dorset. I was still finishing my MA and had just had an interview for a job I really, really wanted. On top of that I was meeting dozens of new people. It was all a bit overwhelming.

That first night I found a deep window ledge halfway up a staircase and I hid, trying to write an essay that was due in later that week. Most people were downstairs chatting and laughing with friends they had known for years, decades even, I didn't think they would miss me.

Kate found me. She stopped for long enough to make sure I was okay. It was maybe five minutes of conversation and I can't for the life of me remember what was said except that she entirely understood how I was feeling and respected the need for space. Then she went off to find a quiet corner of her own.

Others have caught her light much better than I can. She was luminous. I remember Eleanor Bullimore describing Kate's 'beam'. When her attention was fully on you it was as though you were the most important person in her world. I suspect that for those few moments you were. And her talent as a dancer and a gamer was beyond compare. Not long before she started to get tired we went to a contra dance club in Egham. I flatter myself I'm not a bad dancer when it comes to ceilidh-style things. I kept up pretty well. Kate - who had also never tried contra before - looked like a professional.

But what I treasured most about her was her stillness. There are very few people I am comfortable to just be in a room with and not feel as though I have to entertain them in some way. Kate could inhabit a corner of my sofa, pick up her sewing and not need anything from me at all. In her I found a kindred spirit, someone who really understood that while company is wonderful it is possible to have too much of it. And yet I never felt worn out from being around her.

That's my little piece of Kate. The space in my heart that can never be filled. We knew each other for such a little time and for so much of it she was struggling with mental of physical illness. I kept thinking we would have more time when she got better. Now all I can do is believe with all my heart that she is somewhere beyond pain or anxiety. That she has found the peace she inspired in me.

Ellen Clegg

When Kate returned from America she seemed to have fallen a bit out of love with tango. I think she moved to an area where there was little opportunity to dance tango. From time to time she would turn up at the odd milonga (social dance) in London and it was good to spend a few hours in her company again.
I was stunned to learn of her death. Stunned, sad and so very, very sorry. Regrettably I don't have any videos of her dancing tango but take it from me - she was bloody good. Goodnight Kate x.

Julia Johnson

We met at Kentwell I think in 1520 but really started to know each other in 1578 when we turned up in almost identical costumes. She went away for a while but always came to our dance workshops in January and there we danced together all weekend. Then she suggested, we go to Norway to study at the Summer School with Mary Collins. I think we were both a bit unsure how it would be as we had never spent very long together, but it soon became clear that we hit it off. We found our selves saying the same things, thinking the same things, people kept asking if we were sisters, and our friendship grew. She became my best friend. We laughed and cried together - mostly laughed I think, and she taught me so much.

I remember the hours spent driving up and down to Birmingham to see Mary for a dance class -playing that 20 questions game only animal,vegetable and mineral was not enough for us, we added energy and abstract concepts to the mix too! I persuaded her to watch Sherlock - and of course she became a fan with her fantastic phone cover. She never really got into Dr Who but tolerated it in small doses whilst we were sewing. There are so many moments shared and things said that will always make me smile and be treasured.

We had such plans to take the baroque dance world by storm. And now there is a gaping hole where those plans and dreams once were.

I always knew that I was in the dancing compartment of her life but she spoke enough about her other lives for me to be aware of how creative and special she was and how many, many lives she touched and that she had a strong group of friends who had known her a long time and loved and cared for her. Last summer in Croatia she talked of the plans she had to develop new games but even then I think she was starting to struggle. She was, as someone else has said, a precious and tender flower that needed constant care but all that care was worth it to see her bloom and shine.

There is so much that could be said, but Mr and Mrs Harding and sister Em, you have my deepest sympathy. I have been in touch with Amanda and what ever I do to help I will. I am aware of the wish for more video of Kate dancing. I do have some more and am hoping my mum and dad still have the video emails I sent them some years ago, of us messing about in the local village hall. I will get something posted here as soon as I can.

Anne Deller

You always took games seriously; even silly ones. You thought, reflected, and worked hard to put as much of your imagination and creativity in as you could. And other people benefited, as your characters and plots unfolded their richness and made the games better for everyone. And that was also the way it was with your own life and for your friends.

(I remember thinking, as we hugged goodbye that day, how little you'd changed, to look at, since we first met, half your life ago.)

I count myself very fortunate to have such a big stack of happy memories of you to draw upon. In the too-short time we knew each other, you brought a lot of light and inspiration into my world.

With love,

Mo Holkar

To love Kate wasn't a privilege, it was an inevitability.

Kate didn't just have friends (though she did seem to have an awful lot of those for someone who claimed to be exceedingly anti-social). Kate had devotees. People who would follow her ardently to the ends of the earth and beyond. I came late to this party and I heard a lot about Kate before I met her. I'll admit, not all of it appealing. This is a peculiar thing I have encountered repeatedly with Kate. To describe Kate to someone who doesn't know her can be a tricksy thing.

A Kate is a very rare and beautiful flower that takes constant love and nurturing to make her bloom and keep her flourishing. What is hard to understand, for someone having never experienced the bright splendour of Kate, is why anyone would bother.

I certainly did not see the brightness the first time I met her. Actually, on that occasion she didn't say a word to me. We sat alone in a room, Kate happily reading as though I wasn't there. My first impression was somewhat cold and aloof - and it wasn't an impression she went to any great pains to overturn. Yet now I find it incredibly difficult to reconcile that person with the Kate I came to know and, like so many before me, love.
But that was Kate. A bundle of contradiction and paradox that somehow makes perfect sense when you take the time to unravel it. A disinterest that hides a world of warmth and colour. The introvert who chose to shine.

It was in the run-up to Amanda and Andre's wedding that I really got to know Kate. In the week of preparation preceding the event, we spent a very intense, concentrated time in each other's company. Kate was shining that week and I was drawn into her light for the first time. We made a good team. We joked about going into business as wedding planners. Kate investigated the possibility, because for Kate to contemplate something was to become the mistress of it.

When Kate moved to London she was close enough to become a regular feature. I live with Warlock, not famed for socialising, and so I won't pretend our house is often full of guests. But as often as there were people, there was Kate. Curled at the end of the sofa, or spread over the floor constructing some costume. The hours we have sacrificed to the gods of Robin of Sherwood and Harry Potter... Kate, my unlikely social planner, so many evenings and expeditions orchestrated at Kate's whim. Because she wanted company, a game, a walk, a day trip. Kate became, quite simply, part of the fabric of life.

I understand, now, the virtue in nurturing that delicate flower. There is no beauty like Kate's beauty. And we will remember her for everything that she brought to our lives, rather than any difficulty she came with (although I'm sure the words 'paleo-diet' will continue to cause ticks in a few people for a while yet...)

It's ironic, and infinitely cruel, that now the illness that sapped her energy and dimmed her light has won out, Kate is suddenly all the more vivid. Through the outpouring of love, the memories, Kate's brightness is once more evoked. I hear her voice - hey chick - feel the warmth of her smile, her laugh, her embrace. I am enveloped in that essential Kateness that everyone in the Kativerse knows so well.

I am so terribly sad at the loss of Kate. There are no words that really do justice to the size and scope of the grief. I'm not sad for Kate - I know that however she has left us, it was the right way. Leaving would have been as much an act of will as every other step she took. It just is, and therefore impossible to have been any other way.

But I'm sad for us. All of us. Because I know we will never stop missing her. Years from now there will be sewing circles, dances, games and events, and there will be laughter and pie and smiles. But there will always, always, be a Kate-shaped space. A hole that cannot be filled by time or grace. Kate gave to us something no one else ever could. A certain quality, a uniqueness - a Kateness - that we will always be poorer for the lack of.
To be caught in the main-beam of Kate's light is to be changed irrevocably. Kate didn't just have the sunshine factor. She was the sun. To feel her warmth is to spend the rest of your life reaching for those rays.
Blood of my Blood - I love you.

Eleanor Bullimore

The sun rises yet again. Another day. Autumn starts yet again. Another season. Leaves fall yet again, and many lives have gone already in the first hours of this day. And yet, many other lives will start today. Many smiles will happen today. Many kisses and hugs, some of happiness, some of sadness. And at some point, the sun will set. And seasons will change yet again. Winter is as needed as the summer. There is no life without death. But life goes on. Life will keep going on. That is the order of the universe. And that is the poetry of the cosmos, sometimes wondrous, sometimes tragic. Beautiful and mysterious. Joyful and sad. Last days have been sad. Goodbye Kate. Thank you for touching and inspiring so many lives. I can never thank you enough for enriching my dear Amanda’s life all these years. I might not have even met my wife if you hadn’t sparked such a string of events when you stood for her at school 30 years ago. Rest in peace, the memories live on. With love and beauty…

Andre Henriques

I was always more than a little in awe of her, because she was so plainly awesome. She did so many things, and she was so good at all of them, damn her. I was always a little afraid to try and get closer to her because, well, she was so bright and shining that it would have seemed like an imposition. But she was one of the fundaments of my world. You know: day, night, earth, Kate...
I was so happy and honoured that she agreed to be my bridesmaid. I'm still sorry that it turned into a bit of an ordeal-by-photography.

We drifted apart a bit after that. There are so many good people in the world, so little time, you know how it is... When she got ill I gave myself a stern talking-to, reminded myself that I was no longer a needy insecure seventeen year old, and determined that when she got better I was going to make the time to drift back together, and this time get to know her the way I really wanted to.

When she got better.

Sarah Blake

Images of Kate tumbled through my head yesterday and last night. There were not many times and places where Kate and properly I coincided; we always seemed to be in a different knot at parties and even at Inferno when I first met her in 1996 we were largely pulling at different threads in the story. At Constellation last year we finally hung out for a while and she even kindly tolerated my singing. It finally seemed that, in time, I'd have the chance to get to know her.

Sifting through memories and impressions I knew that I'd always been intimidated by Kate's apparent self-possession, and the very high esteem and devotion she inspired in many people I valued. She had many talents. I felt smaller in her shadow. In ignorance, I projected qualities onto her and felt further intimidated. Separating out those things I've realised how very little I knew her. I'm deeply saddened to hear that someone who I always thought very poised and composed, very self-reliant, was fighting anxiety and depression for so long. She didn't project her turmoil or drag melodrama in her wake - she was private and very private with her pains.

Over the 18 years since we met, Kate's beauty was undimmed. She never seemed conscious of it (or, if conscious, always downplayed it). She had fabulous skin and features. Any joy made her glow. I can't describe that or the effect her (an apposite word, if misused or overused elsewhere) radiance had on others.

Most of my photos of Kate were discarded as terribly bad records, barely passing reflections. As with many other friends, cameras didn't seem able to record what I wanted them to show. It was particularly vexing in Kate's case as the camera stubbornly refused capture the obvious, never mind the fleeting. Memories are, though malleable, mostly a better guide, though the lens misbehaved less at Amanda and Andre's wedding.
Kate had an innate grace she seemed to have to put aside when romping or stomping in character or out. While she could act well, that grace never seemed to entirely vanish. I wish I'd seen her dance.

Kate made an indelible impression; an introvert at heart, she attracted and inspired devoted admirers and friends, many of those lifelong (though that word has now acquired a painful weight) and many of those I care for among them. Inspiring such sustained regard, in so many, is rare. Reviewing our mutual friends, we are much blessed by wonderful individuals but (as others have noted) among peers, Kate stood out despite her reticence.

All the above still seems a pitiful effort.

For me, the most telling thing about Kate was that, after the first shock yesterday, my stupefied brain ran to those I care for who would be distraught and those who would be deeply shaken by her loss and I haven't yet been able to call the list complete; there are so many who loved her.

Antonia Mansel-Long

Kate was one of the first people I met when Chris V brought me to the Oxford University roleplay society in my second year: a hub at the centre of these new people that a lot of people revolved around. She was pretty, talented, spiky, clever, introverted, creative: a contradiction wrapped in costumes and personal defences. I didn't get to know her well as she was already that little bit older and employed with an established friends group, which as a naive student made it harder to connect, and I stood a bit too in awe of her to address it. But I remember her being present as my love of roleplaying developed and no society or vampire game would have been complete without Kate appearing in a beautiful hand made costume, talking intensely in a corner with other players about some deep plot most of us have no idea about.

Selfishly, I am saddened that I will never get to roleplay with her properly because we never quite managed to play in plots that were linked, and so many people have beloved gaming memories linked to her and her characters.

I got to know Kate a little better when I left university. We were both bridesmaids for Sarah's s wedding, and I remember all of us sewing frantically under the gentle guidance of Emma, and the night where we all blessed Sarah after she joked that she had accidentally picked 4 elementally-aligned bridesmaids. I also mentioned in those sessions about Kentwell, and I watched with amazement as she took the hobby I had done a few times and turned it into a vocation, doing historical dances in palaces around the country, sewing the most beautiful, historically accurate costumes and smiling.

Our immediate social groups were different, but we crossed over occasionally at games and parties, and sometimes at the yearly roleplay holidays. One year (2007) we stayed in the same house, and one of my enduring memories is of Kate, dedicated and intense, practising graceful tango flourishes against the wall in preparation for a seminar by a noted Argentine teacher, flicking each heel sinuously around her alternate ankle in turn.

I think Kate became someone I looked up to when she took adverse circumstances and triumphed: using Tango as a positive way to get over her break-up with Dan, rather than the cliché of chocolate and alcohol, and falling it love with it. And further, she made it into a new dream, and took that dream and turned it into something tangible: moving to Argentina and Portland to "Follow the Tango" as she put it. From someone so introverted it was incredibly brave. I sat in my office in England, wanderlust and frustration scratching under my skin, and wondered why I wasn't emulating her example by following something I loved instead of just doing what was expected. I don't know if she ever knew that; I told her once, but I don't think she realised how much I actually meant it rather than mindless platitudes.

Kate came back to London, and whilst I expected to see a bit more her, she went quiet, although I'd hear tales of the local gaming group from Dom, and from the players Amanda's game. But I knew things weren't great for her, and Martin and I talked a fair amount as he did Kate support.

The last time I actually saw Kate was when Ellen ran a live action session of the 7th sea game just before I went to Borneo last year; we were all there for her IC wedding as her family, and it was immense fun. It was great to see both her and Tim, who I'd not seen for years. That's how I remember her. Smiling in the candlelight, dressed to the nines in costume, trying not to laugh at something someone said, enmeshed in game politics and in her element.

I didn't know Kate as well as many others who are grieving now. I didn't share my deepest secrets with her, and I don't have intricate, fragile memories of games and shared evenings. But there's still a painful hole where Kate should be, and my heart aches for all my friends who do have those and are having to cope.

Goodbye Kate. May you dance, whether in Tango or clothed in Tudor garb, wherever you are, and that things are as beautiful as the games and stories you span.

You'll be missed.

Krystyna Joyce

Reading all these beautiful things about Kate is helping me realise how many people's lives she touched and how spectacular her impact was on the world. I knew that for my tiny world, she was as close to the core of mine as my husband and son, but I spent most of my time with Kate just us two alone, so I rarely saw her with others. We spent so much time together and yet so little, so not enough. All of my books, except the one most recently finished, I read to her before they were published and she sewed and laughed and gasped and loved the worlds I made and that meant everything to me. I can still hear her laugh. I can still hear her call me darling and feel her embrace me and tell me I am mighty. She was mighty. This hurts so much, but oh! The sweetness of having known her so well, to have been known by her so well. It is worth all this pain. We were so lucky to have known her.

Emma Newman

I felt like I had been mugged.

Something very previous was stolen - the future moments that Kate would have filled with joy with her ready smile.

But she would want us to banish morbid thoughts

She loved to dance and this is how I want to remember her

Radiant and at the top of her game.

Trevor Williams

We were, as Martin said, so lucky to forge such an amazing group of friends as students, and to be friends still. Back then, meeting up meant either planning ahead and using pigeon post or email - checking email meant queueing at the computer lab, or going there in the dead of night - or just turning up at one another's doors. I still marvel at how welcoming everyone was, and how many of those doors were always open. It's one of the things that brought John and I together, a shared desire to create a home where the door was always open to our friends. I hope you know that now, more than ever, any of you are welcome here for a drink or a hug or a chat.

One of my strongest memories of Kate is of an afternoon, probably in 1995, when I was out with Frances near Museum Road. We got caught in a massive thunderstorm and dashed for Kate's door (we knew that if she was in, she would be a refuge). She was in, working. She found us towels, tea and biscuits, and comfortable places to sit, and abandoned her essay to talk to us all afternoon while the rain lashed down.

When Kate finished her degree, planning got more awkward as she lost access to her university email account, and others weren't easily come by. So we shared an account for months, with both of us reading the mailing lists, and if it was a private message friends would put the name of the intended recipient in the title. It worked perfectly, and there aren't many people I would have trusted so implicitly.

The marvel of this new technology is that, however far flung we are (Martin in the Netherlands, Kellie T in Hawaii, Felix in New Zealand, Anthony in Washington) we can all share our feelings and memories (it's lovely to know she is being remembered all over the world) and be together in spirit. I hope never to take this, or any of you, for granted.

Kathy Norman

O My beautiful friend!!! I was just thinking about you this morning, when was gonna be the next Milonga that could I dance with you and show you how I got better seen the last time you saw me? I Remember how you were so kind and dance with me when I was just started dancing tango. I was shy to dance with you but you were always very nice with me.. Then I just find out that I may have to wait little be longer that I thought. Kate!!! Love you my friend! See you soon!

Julio Mendoza

Never will I forget our last dances, or hugs. Too soon but will see you on the other side.

D'Artagnan Horner

Can't pretend I was romantically significant in her life, and calling her my "first girlfriend" would be way too much of a stretch, but she was my first love, and obviously that stuff stays with you. So many memories that remain crystal clear in my mind - it's only 20 years later that I understand the difference between a person like Kate and all the other assorted human riff-raff cluttering up one's life. She was a one-woman generator of moments that will stay with me forever. At the time the stupid kid that I was took that for granted.

Kate always seemed to think she didn't think interesting enough thoughts, or have enough to give. With hindsight that's truly absurd - she was incredibly talented, and unbelievably kind and generous, even to a mixed-up, volatile teenage goth who mostly just made her life more difficult. Some time in the 2000s she messaged me to say she'd found an ancient letter from me that seemed so happy and optimistic, that it left her wondering where it had all gone wrong. If she thought even for a second that she'd ever been any kind of disappointment she was way wrong. She changed the course of my life, made me me, in ways that it's taken me unforgivable years to understand.

We didn't exchange private messages too much on Facebook: digging through my inbox I found an early one where she quite rightly stated it compared badly to LJ, and even less well to the beloved Mono BBS of our 1990s. Kate's Mono name was "psyche", which as a classicist I can authoritatively inform you is "the human soul, made immortal through love". The outpouring of tributes today proves this not to be a misnomer. Kate will live on as long as any of us are alive because her unbounded enthusiasm for the activities she took part in and love for the people she took part in them with made her unforgettable. It probably took me about 5 minutes after meeting her to love her a bit, maybe a few more minutes than that to love her a lot. And I don't expect it to ever stop.

In the words of Robin of Sherwood, she was like a May morning, and nothing's forgotten, nothing is ever forgotten.

At a Sandman-themed fancy dress party a long, long time ago she knelt beside the pentacle "Dream of the Endless" was bound in and murmured in my ear "why are you always in my dreams?" I think we may have gotten our costumes mixed up. It's her who's never been far from mine. Goodnight my dear. If morning ever comes we'll see you then.

Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.

Matthew Marcus

I never got to ask her how that happened. For someone who never seemed happier than when curled up on a sofa she got a lot done.

When I arrived in Oxford I wasn't sure of much, but I knew a roleplaying society was something I'd have to join. And so on a Tuesday night I made my way to Wadham college, where my membership card was filled out and signed by a woman wearing big boots, combat trousers, a vest, and a smile I can still remember.

Together we all told stories of magic and adventure, of desperate struggle and wild romance. Stories that swelled with the life we breathed into them. But the real adventure was about finding each other and our place in the world. Our places were far enough apart that I haven't seen Kate for over ten years, and yet this feels like losing someone I spoke to only yesterday.

For those who knew and loved her better than me and for her whole family I have nothing but sympathy. We have been robbed of someone wonderful, but we must remember the smiles and the laughs, the adventures and the friendship. We will miss you Kate.

Martin Lloyd

Bad news today has me feeling very sad. I'm running through memories from Oxford, remembering events, shared stories and storytelling and focusing on the happiness. And a smile that could light up the room. Much love and many hugs to all those who also knew Kate.

David McKnight

Kate, so sad you've left us. "Lux perpetua luceat ei..."

Lissa Chapman

When I first met Kate, she was really very pleasant to talk to, but it gradually moved into a disaster. She was an introvert who kept people at a distance by keeping away from them, I was an introvert who kept people at a distance by going right up to them, and talking at them rapidly about humour, genre, game rules, various strange ideas of beliefs - anything that was't me. Put those two together and it's never going to come to a happy ending.

But she cared about people. She cared about her friends, she cared about those around her, and, I gradually realised, she even seemed to care about me. I was fortunate - I don't what that means, when you meet someone who literally can't stand to talk to you, or to spend too long in the same room as you, but cares about you all the same. I hope I could do that.

I don't know that it was much of a friendship, the occasional good day when we we could talk, and she could relax, at least for a while. I'm not going to kid myself that I was ever a close friend. She only had a few of those, only could have a few of those. I was always going to be an outsider. But suitably, buffered, she seemed to enjoy my company, and was a joy to have around. An insistent, softly stompy joy, who wrinkled her nose when she was upset at something, and dreamed about people who's lives were horrors, and helping them to save themselves, one day at a time.

damn it.

Hanbury Hampden-Turner

I'm very shocked and saddened to hear the news. I didn't know Kate awfully well, but we have danced together on a number of occasions at events. I have to say she was a truly lovely and funny lady! xx

Jenny Gurton

I've just had the news about Kate Harding's passing, and I wanted to send my condolences to everyone. I met Kate through the Oxford University RPGSoc, when she was especially kind to a fresher from a foreign country, and served as something of a social mentor to me. Because of her and through her influence, I was able to meet a number of other wonderful people, who are friends and colleagues to this day. We weren't in touch much over recent years, but I greatly enjoyed reading about her experiences in Argentina, and having the chance to talk at length at a BristolCon a few years back. I know that you are all likely feeling shock and sadness at the moment, but I just wanted to say that somewhere on the other side of the world, someone is thinking of you, and of her. Thank you, Kate - goodbye and hello, as always.

Kellie T

Kate Harding, I will always remember our dances which were full of life

Jens Ingo-Brodesser

Much support and sympathy for Kate's close friends and family. Let me know if there's anything I can do - hugs, sympathy, company, food, talk, games?

It's been said before and needs saying again: October is a bad month and should be banned.

Rachael Hampden-Turner

Laughter, sunshine, giggling wit,
That’s how you will choose to sit
Within my mind, that found you a
Delight to know. But time to go,
You thought, and so we’re left with it.

The memory of your smile, is so
Resplendant it will last an age.
You, in contrast, not one jot will
Older grow than now, and so
You’re gone as you have left the stage.

We, on the other hand, will carry
Forward all we know of you.
That’s how you’ll always charm beyond
The grave. Your time has come around
To leave. We grieve and say Adieu.

Farewell, sweet Kate, for now but look
On us who carry on below.
Amidst cow parsley and the stuff
That got your goat. Arcane perhaps
This Life may be. But know
We loved you Kate, we thought you great.

You shone, you danced, you never once
Were dull. We could not reach right down
To help when you began to drown.
Forgive us Kate. We were too late!

"Sweet Kate, of late,
Ran away & left me plaining"
We are all the sadder for your loss, dear Kate. May you be at peace at last and light up heaven with your presence.
"Only when the earth has claimed your limbs, then shall you truly dance." xxx

Mary Collins

She moved to London, and I'd somewhat lost touch with her, seeing her only occasionally at various events such as Amanda's wedding.

Last year I joined Amanda Henriques wondrous game along with Kate, and was reminded anew how great she was.

She touched so many people deeply, and I know a lot of my friends are hurting badly right now. I give you all a virtual hug, and if any of you feel the need to talk or want a drink, drop me a line.

John Reynolds

Perhaps it is right that our friendship began and ended with me in tears, perhaps. My best friend, my great mate, Kate Harding died yesterday. My friend was an artist, dancer, actress, writer, thinker, scientist..... This list could go on and others will say eloquently what I can only say through tears for now. We loved each other, she was my sister so we shared secrets we also shared the friendship and love of many unique and wonderful people. Today the pain of loss is terrible and for all the love and hugs and tea, thank you. Stuff and things and stuff and shit.

Amanda Henriques

Kate HardingDom Camus
Kate, thank you for making the world so much awesomer. You'll be missed, terribly.

Nina O'Hanlon


Emma Newman

my dear tango friends, Today I received the sad news that Kate Harding is not anymore with us. I feel a deep pain in my heart, but I know she's not suffering anymore. Kate was a wonderful tango dancer and the few times we followed workshops ( Pablo Pablo Inza y Eugenia Parrilla ) I was very impressed about her technical and musicality Skills. Besides la pista she was a nice person , and it was always a pleasure to talk with her. Kate, I gonna miss you really hard. ( I received the permission of a good friend of kate to use this nice picture of her) My dear Kate, You will be always in my heart Rest in peace

Patrick Oostvogels

Grief is the price we pay for love. It's a lovely sunny day and I wish Kate was still here to see it. Hugs for all of you.

Eveline Ingram

Be well, wherever your soul has gone. I will miss you. I didn't know you well; I wish I had known you better. For the time that we gamed together, though, you were a good friend.

S Dorrance Minch

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there, I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air.... Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace Where never lark nor even eagle flew— And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod The high untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand, and touched the face of God. - John Gillespie Magee

Sally Roberts

I was never fortunate enough to know Kate that well. She was one year ahead of me at Oxford, and was more patient with a very loud American than I deserved. But I remember how fierce she was as a friend to us all, and how passionate she was about the people and purposes that were central to her life.

Even if we weren't ourselves close, I saw how she made the lives of my friends fuller, and I thank her for that. I'm not certain when I last talked to Kate--certainly it was before law school, if one leaves out blog comments--but I feel like I've seen her through reflection, through how she affected those closer to me. That kind of gravity, influence, is rare and special, and the hole it leaves when it is gone--just as powerful.

I know there are a number of people, in the UK and elsewhere, who are mourning tonight, and facing much more than the reflected loss I have tried to describe here. I'm not sure I can comprehend where you are now, and I know I can't put it in words. If I can somehow be of help, just ask. I will miss Kate and remember her.

Anthony Rickey

It was only after Kate moved to London that I really began to know her as a person in her own right. I played in a game with her from 2001-2004 (Generations, the last tabletop game I played as it happens), and got to know her a lot better. I began to realise just how intelligent and talented she was at so many things. We developed a rapport where we could be at ease in each other’s company, either as part of a group or just the two of us - I have fond memories of sitting in her flat watching the 2002 Jubilee, generally laughing and wasting the day away. I began to realise what I first attributed to aloofness was actually just reserve, sometimes intentional and sometimes enforced by her anxiety. A gradual crossover happened whereby she stopped being my friend’s girlfriend and became my friend.

After she and my friend broke up, I was obviously sad for her, and also quite fearful. Kate had suffered from mental health issues in the past, and I was scared that this change in her life would bring those to the fore again. I also rather selfishly thought it might be the end of our friendship. The first time I saw her after the break-up she was a bit wistful but otherwise fine, and little did I know that actually she was about to embark upon one of the best chapters of her life - living abroad in Argentina and Portland. I didn’t speak to her (or really have any contact with her during these years), but she told me when we met up again afterwards that they were some of the happiest times in her life - she told me how she was cycling in Portland one morning and felt happier than she could remember; in some ways now I wish she’d never come back.

After a hiatus, we met up again in 2011. We didn’t see each other as often as before she went away, but when we did I was always happy to see her. Sometimes when meeting up with people after a long time apart I find it a little awkward, but there was none of that with her. She came round to my house and cooked me a roast once, proclaiming the whole time that my cooking equipment was sub-standard. She was still inventive and creative, introducing me to the London street games scene and escape games. She had ideas to go into business in that area, and did a test run of a potential game idea which involved people getting “shot” in central London and me lying to passers by saying we were shooting a TV show. Our conversations were a mix of what the future may bring and nostalgia over the past.

Unfortunately over the last year we didn’t meet up as much, partly as a result of her illness, and it’s to my shame and regret that I can’t actually pinpoint the last time we actually met in person (I fear it was in 2013), although we texted more often. I knew she was ill of course, but I had no idea just how ill. The last text conversation I had with her was about Generations, which was fitting as it was in many ways where we became friends. During the lengthy text conversation she apologised for bothering me, to which I told her of course she wasn’t bothering me and it was fun to reminisce.

Last night I dreamt she was alive. She had posted something to Facebook explaining what had happened, and she was sorry for all the fuss she’d caused everyone. My brain reasoned away the fact that everyone had very much confirmed that she had passed, and everything was alright again. Then I woke up, realised what had happened, and wrote the above.

Andrew Munro

How deeply saddened I am to hear about Kate. Whilst I had not seen her for some long time, I have special memories of her kind, dedicated, unassuming work for the Lions part. Many an hour in my little office under the mezzanine bed she built bridges and paved the path to what we have become. And her beautiful smile. Please give my most sincere regard to those close to her. We will bring out the sun costume this OP.Love


Kate touched my life in so many ways - first when we met at Kentwell - she and Reuben started in 1520 (1999), and Kate was my attendant. She quickly began to be involved in other things too - making beautiful costumes for our production at the Globe in 2000 (I'll try and find a photograph, but if not, I know the company is planning to have the costume worn for this Autumn's October Plenty festival in her memory), then supporting the Lions part with many projects and building their website.

Kate danced for the first masque performances with my early music group Passamezzo, helped me choose the name and designed our website.

We danced together at Hampton Court, and I played for her to dance in many places.

I will miss her so much - her vitality and loveliness.

Sending you all comfort and strength

Tam Lewis

In Good Company project

Marianne Elliott

Although I had played a couple of smaller games, it wasn't until well into my Third Year that I involved myself in the wider goings on of the RPGsoc at Oxford. I had decided to play the Wessex vampire game that Kate was helping to run, and had the good fortune to have chosen to play one of her horde of Toreador. There was a plan for us all to get together to watch the film Ridicule to set the right tone for the game and so it was that a nervous North Oxforder (at that time living way up the Banbury Road) trekked down in the dark to meet a room-full of strangers in the terra incognita of the Iffley Road.

To say that I was outside my comfort zone is an understatement, but Kate had an incredible knack for making me feel welcome, both that night and once the game had started; as 'my' GM, she made me feel not only a real part of the game, despite being a fairly clueless novice in LARPing terms, but valued and appreciated in my participation. Trawling back through my diaries of that time there is barely a mention of her that isn't accompanied by the word 'lovely' and I remember being amazed and delighted when she (along with others) met me from my last Final.

It was a difficult, transitional year for me and I didn't need to know Kate well for her kindness to have made an enormous difference in giving me the courage to feel in someway part of this desperately needed new tribe.

The game itself was thoroughly stamped with her poise and elegance (not to mention the stories and apparently endless costume changes) and set a benchmark which I spent about the next decade trying to find something to live up to. I read her accounts of tango adventures in absolute awe and when I learned that Ellen Clegg had become friends with some ex-Oxford folk, it was Kate in particular who I selfishly hoped I may end up crossing paths with again.

My thoughts are with those family and close friends whose grief I cannot begin to even imagine. No doubt I never thanked her for being so welcoming to me, but it was a kindness I've never forgotten.

Neil Parkinson

“…transient things that last forever…” Steve, I don’t know you but I love you for those words. Kate’s bright smile and warmth has stayed with me despite the pace of life-after-uni. I kept close to many friends, but not all I would wish to. Thinking that ‘one-day’ I would is now a crushing self-deceit. I will still smile at the memories from Oxford, even if today they cut deeply. I have a montage of those years on my wall, including the era of the Magic Kingdom when Kate lived with us. Here she is back from Finals, I think I had just asked her how well it went… it’s a poor tribute in exchange for the happy memories from our adventures together, for the challenging insights and for the privilege of simply basking in her joy of life.

Chris Tomkins

Antonia Mansel-Long: "The In Good Company project 'about' page has Kate's video.

Nine things Kate Harding taught me: 1) You can reinvent yourself many times while staying true to where you came from; - Corollary: It is never too late to cultivate a deep interest in shoes; 2) The way women are treated by our society is unfair. Be aware and try to make things better; 3) Imagination is a tool that can be deployed in any situation; 4) If your geeky hobby brings you joy, what do you care what other people think of it? 5) Tom Waits exists; 6) Keep your old friends close. It takes a long time to make new ones; 7) G.E. Moore's 'refutation' of Berkeley's idealism is crap. How the hell did he get to be so famous? 8) No matter where you go, whom you inspire, or how much you achieve, there's always time to sit around cross-legged on a sofa; 9) Not everyone gets the happy ending they deserve.

Tim Harford

A post written by Ralph Lovegrove

Satellite Navigation No idea which way to go, A long way from home, a foreign land. No signal, no indication, no direction. But then you rose, glorious luminescent magnificent moon, Constant heading, brightest of the guiding stars. You showed me the way. You guided me then, you guide me now. I know you'll always guide me. Speaking strictly, we just circle each other, Never getting closer, just sometimes seeming so. But that's the way of satellites, and dancers. That's our mystery. You rose and set; you were not always there. You waxed and waned; you were not always strong. But always you returned. Even now, my guiding light. 7/10/2010 [My GPS wasn't working, and I needed to drive across to the M40 via various country lanes. The full moon was rising, just above the horizon, massive amongst the trees. I knew the rough direction I needed to go, and it gave me a bearing. The moon led me very well. I stopped at the side of the road to write this, for Kate]

Reuben Wright

"Dirge without Music", by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, --- but the best is lost.

The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. Gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Steve Jessop

Stunned to learn of a friend's death. She was only 41, artist, dancer, web-designer extraordinaire, and much much more. I wish I knew her better, and longer. Kate Harding, rest in peace. Gratitude for you and your life. Gate gate, para gate, parasam gate, Bodhisswaha.

Lavinia Magliocco

"Meeting Kate was like a well crafted piece slipping into place. A piece that I didn’t know I was missing, but which made sense as soon as it was there. A piece which made more sense of me as soon as it was there.

Of course, Kate being Kate there were other pieces already there - she came with an Amanda and a pair of Adams already attached, and somehow it just happened to be that their sticky-out pieces slotted into my tucky-in pieces and somehow we all just fitted together. The puzzle became more complete, and the picture of life made more sense.

I met Kate in a way that I can’t imagine anyone meets anyone anymore.

As a callow youth my first girlfriend, Laura, was from another school. Naturally, her friends, being fourteen year old girls who had never met me, were fascinated to find out more about the debonair young man who had entered her life. So they used the technology of the time to ask me questions - they passed notes. I would receive notes from Laura, and write replies to be passed back.

With time most note correspondents moved on, but Kate and I had found a rapport. Even after the end of that particular relationship the notes - now turned into letters - kept coming back and forth. With time letters were occasionally supplemented by phone calls. But we never got around to meeting.

We kept this up for four years. Topics were as free ranging as our conversations were to be later on - philosophy, science, psychology, spirituality, and stories… We were always as interested in our fictional lives as our real ones.

It was when I was finally emerging from the deep crater made by the end of another relationship that I got on the phone to her one day and said “Let’s meet.” I went to a tatty pub in town, and spent an evening meeting and talking to a bunch of endearing freaks.

That evening I met not only Kate, but three of the other people who were going to be my companions in life from then on. As a group they didn’t seem to make a lot of sense - their personalities were very disparate, as were their styles, but I found a profound and powerful sense of acceptance between them, quickly extended to me, that I had never felt anywhere else before. Sometimes you don’t realise what you were looking for until you find it.

The early years were role-playing, long conversations, sitting around wondering what we were going to do and then realising we didn’t have the money to do it anyway. Kate was the one who fractured my arrogantly confident belief in a purely materialistic universe… and a whole section of my life slowly emerged from that crack. Much of which, in the early going, seemed to involve bouncing around in the back of a landrover in order to spend an hour or two standing around in a field getting cold. We learned hugely from each other. Kate was the first person who I admitted might, just possibly, be smarter than me - which given my near super-human levels of arrogance at the time was no small thing. We discovered that on many topics we’d start arguing from very different places then find ourselves having drawn roughly the same conclusions in the end. Which lead us to conclude we really were cleverer than everyone else. I probably should never have told her about the term ‘Mehum’.

Fortunately time softened us, and humbled us (somewhat), and whilst she remained the Queen of Fucking Everything, Kate showed remarkable compassion and love for fellow travellers who were struggling. For someone so notoriously anti-social, for someone who was happy to declare that she didn’t like people, it’s been a wonder to see how many lives she has entered and how much love she has evoked.

Kate seemed to find art easy - art in it’s widest sense. She could dance, tell stories, act, design, sew, bring things into being. But the art of her’s I most loved was the one that most of the world doesn’t even know exists - roleplaying. For with Kate it was an art. I’m lucky enough to know a few people who can slip seamlessly into a character, breath life into a bunch of numbers and scribbled notes, transform for an evening into another soul… But I adored to see Kate do it more than any other.

I know it’s something that most people will never understand, but crafting stories with friends, to me, will always be one of the joys of life. Seeing a person not only acting a role, but improvising every line, experiencing every emotion in the moment, exploring and pushing themselves in order to go deeper into the life of another… To share those journeys with Kate was a supreme pleasure. Sometimes just sitting back and watching her do her thing, hearing the perfectly turned phrase, the shift of her body language, the emotions of another life warn so perfectly. Or the sudden flash of wit that reduced my to giggles or deep, shuddering, belly laughs.

Kate really did like to game… I recall a conversation in Oxford where she was slightly concerned that she was now playing in eight games - one for every night of the week and two for Saturdays. She wondered if it might be too much. I believe she concluded that she could probably manage. Or maybe she’d just drop one of them.

The funny thing about role-players… Okay, one of the funny things about role-players is that we end up having so many relationships with each other. Not content with just one life story, or one personality, we adopt many others, then bash them up against each other to see what happens. Love and rivalry and resentment and self-sacrifice bubble up between us time and again, but not this me, and not that you. New combinations and flavours arise game after game. I’ve often said that one of the greatest love affairs of my life happened with Kate, and it was entirely fictional. They said it could never work - the age gap alone (some 200 years), let alone the Blood Boon, the constant political machinations… She was all elegance and grace, I was anger and fury, she was thinking five moves ahead, I was thinking about punching someone in the face, she was once a whore, I was once an experiment, she was Toreador, I was Brujah… yet somehow… we made it work. Mostly.

Of course, in the implicit sado-masochistic relationship of Ref and player I was more often the tormentor than the tormented. Back in the days when she was more robust I took such pride in reducing her to literal shaking fear in the horror games I ran, but it is the long intertwining, rich and complex stories that ran through the City will remain with me forever. I took enormous pride in having created something that inspired such big emotions, deep thoughts, and tense relationships in my players. If Kate is pissed off at me for anything it’s probably that I never told her the secret of the City before she left.

The loss we’ve all felt in these recent days has been awful. At first it was made worse by the fact that very few people really understand. When you tell them you’ve lost a close friend they express condolences and concern, but they clearly don’t get it. They don’t understand that I’ve been floored by this, that a crack has opened up at the very heart of me, that there is a burning pain of loss kicking in my chest. At first it was frustrating that they didn’t understand, that they clearly didn’t comprehend why losing one of your best and closest friends could be so devastating. But then I had a moment of insight that Kate would have been proud of, and I felt only sympathy for them: “Ah yes,” I thought, “They’ve never had a Kate in their life. They’ve not known the love, so they can’t know the pain.”

The loss is so deep and powerful because of the love we shared, the experiences we shared, and all of the future moments which we will now not share. But also simply because of what I have lost and will miss out on. Some people in your life are interchangable, if you don’t have a conversation with person A you’ll have it with person B, if one person leaves your work then another will join and you will carry on much as before. But the conversations I’ve had with Kate, the exchange of ideas, the flow of energy, the insights and wisdom and gentle love, those could not have happened with another person.
In role-playing parlance, my friends have always been my ‘special’ - the quality or possession or talent that gives me an extra edge, that makes me stand out. The blessing that gives me an advantage that others can only envy. To have lost part of my special is so painful… and feels so deeply unfair.

I was fortunate enough to take a few turns at caring for Kate in the last few months. It showed me the incredible strength and courage that Amanda and Martin had shown in keeping it up every day. It was hard and saddening and upsetting at the time, but I’m so immeasurably glad that I did it.

Coming to Kate’s and finding her in a darkened room, not feeling well enough to speak, not feeling well enough to listen, was incredibly difficult. She was so clearly sick, she was so clearly suffering. But it was with a certain delight that I found moments of pure Kate still bursting through as vividly as ever - the way she indicated that I was to lay down with her, and exactly where. The way she lay on me, then immediately sat up with a very familiar, indignant frown that I hadn’t been as comfortable as she expected, then rearranging me so that I fitted her needs better. The way she bounced slightly, in order to get closer and more comfortable. Then just laying with her, in the dark, not being able to talk to her, not being able to communicate with her, but at least being able to be with her for a time. Laying there, breathing with her, resting with her, crying a little, but glad to be with her in the place she had gone to.

The last time I saw her I was able to use sign language to tell her that I loved her, and that I always would - and the same message came back to me. She gestured that she never wanted me to leave, but I had to anyway and that broke my heart a little.

But not quite like realising that she has left and won’t be coming back. That’s a big heart-break. And whilst my heart will certainly heal, it’ll never be quite the same shape again. There’s a piece missing.

Shared on behalf of Warlock by Eleanor Bullimore

I carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
  • E E Cummings

Amanda Clarke

After we left Buenos Aires, she came to Portland, Oregon and we spent a lot of time together. So much so that people were convinced that we were dating. She was my dance partner, my traveling partner, the best person to be snowed in with, she was funny and smart and compassionate and loving, she was the first person to ever say to me, “Ted, you’re a really sensitive guy, it’s a shame more people don’t realize that.” She was in no uncertain terms my friend.

We would laugh at the fact that she went to Oxford and I, Cambridge. I’d ask her, “doesn’t this mean we’re supposed to be rivals?” She would dryly respond with a smile, “Oh, but we are.”

We traveled to Chicago to visit friends and when we got to our hotel, our room was the size of one bed. Expecting two beds, she just smiled, the way she smiled and said, “just stay on your side.” I remember our last day in Chicago, I wanted to check out a breakfast place and she wanted to sleep in, so I went on a trek trying to find the place but when I got back to the hotel she was still in bed and we were going to be late to the airport. So I woke her up and then began a mad dash to pack, Kate saying the whole while, “Oh my God! Why didn’t you wake me up?” I find myself wishing I had more photos of Kate, but she hated having her photo taken so much, it seemed. She’d kill me if she knew I was posting these photos, but I love them and I want to celebrate her extraordinary life.

I remember being snowed in, at my house in Portland over Christmas 2008, in what we thereafter referred to as “Snowpocalypse.” The late night conversations about tango, or the virtues of freemasonry or Rumi or ninjas or math and science, while the fire burned in the fireplace, made it like a little island were we could geek out and not have to worry about what anyone else thought. Even when we got my car stuck, teeter tottering, over a snowdrift, all we could do is laugh.
Kate was so much more, she meant so much more, than I could ever write her.

Kate always had a sympathetic ear when I was feeling low. After a recent conversation with Kate regarding my ex-girlfriend (another extraordinary English-woman) and about the nature of love and how it is often at odds with logic, she suggested I write about it and the following is the product of her inspiration. While this poem is not about her, it was inspired by her encouragement and I dedicate it to my friend Kate. I love you and will miss you greatly and I’m grateful to have had you in my life. I offer my deepest condolences to her family and other friends. Please know that Kate was loved by all who knew her.

Theodore Roe

Trajectory takes me
When I look behind
Mere time separates us
You're there in my mind

You're right where I left you
You've not gone away
You'll never be lost
It's I who can't stay

Rachael Hampden-Turner

There are no words There is only love And infinite sadness

Amanda Henriques