My Best Friend

Antonia was my best friend for over 30 years. Antonia had a world-leading brain, a fierce determination, but also thoughtful kindness. Antonia survived childhood polio which rendered her paraplegic, but never stopped her and seldom got in her way. Whatever she wanted, she made happen.

When we met, both Antonia and I were exploring the use of personal computers – the Vic20 and Commodore64. I just wanted to organize research and reports for my history studies. Antonia was intrigued by the possibilities of the nascent technology. So she switched from pure maths and games theory to write the best book about the 20, and then the 64. And she kept on going in computing to become a world authority in many esoteric fields of Computing. And on the way, she helped me many times, helped many other friends, and formed brilliant research teams.

Antonia moved to a Welsh farmhouse in rural Brecon, and converted it for self-sufficiency and also as a beautiful modern home. My husband Malcolm and I spent many happy visits there. Upon (nominal) retirement, Antonia moved to Florida, making real the status of American resident that she always felt in her heart. There she designed her swimming pool and many adaptations to her house.

What was she like? In an interview she was asked her childhood dream “a jet fighter pilot”, and later in the interview she was asked about future goals “a jet fighter pilot”. For a time she drove a 7 litre Trans-Am, which really impressed the Cornish village we visited with her. Despite her everpresent workload, an impish smile and a wry observation sometimes had us in stitches. She mastered many forms of technology, from CB radios to multifuel heating systems. Once I introduced her to another of my friends, a lecturer in robotics. I listened dumfounded and awestruck as the conversation ratcheted from social through layers of technical to esoteric to metaphysical. I’m not dumb, but they were miles ahead before I left the starting blocks. Her tiny physical size belied her prodigious mental stature, but she only looked down on someone when she was helping them to get up. Antonia was incredibly kind and supportive to me as I stumbled through some low points in my life. She died on 23 December 2010. I miss her every day.


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