A favourite question Mike often asked, in either discussion or following a talk, would be “why?”. Mike was fascinated by questions such as: “Why” do birds show such diversity in their circadian organisation, and why do closely related species use different photoreceptors, clocks and signalling pathways? Such discussions sent me off to study the eight closely related species, but ecologically diverse, Anolis lizards of Puerto Rico. But that’s another story! Attempting to place a mechanistic understanding of circadian biology into an evolutionary and ecological context was deeply important to Mike, and he was genuinely puzzled when little or no previous thought had been given to the question by a researcher.
Work in the lab was frequently followed by parties and dinners where talk of science merged with history, philosophy, music and laughter. Lots of laughter, and all were embraced. These were inclusive events where partners, friends, and very often international visitors would all mingle, and maybe drink a beer in the hot-tub or by the pool! Mike and his wife Shirley were generous hosts, and a deeply loving couple. There was a kindness and gentleness about their relationship that touched all who met them. You wanted to be in their company and it was a joy that Shirley accompanied Mike so often to scientific meetings. If you dropped-in on them at home, Shirley would open a good bottle of Vouvray, her favourite white wine, and break out the cheese and crackers. Laughter and conversation followed, until Mike felt he should prepare supper. Mike was the cook, and it was a standing joke that Shirley could not boil an egg, or indeed a kettle, without help. Shirley’s untimely death from cancer could have snuffed out all the joy from Mike’s life, but his children and grandchildren sustained him with undiluted love until the very last.