As you all may know Ivor and myself come from Arkham. Obviously we were gamers before Arkham and probably will be until the great lead gods of old call us home to the battle boards in the sky. And with that I'd like to talk about Arkham, and Phil.
Personally I recall the day Phil rang me and said "so this war games centre, what's that need then?" And it seems like yesterday we stood looking at ice cream machines and filth covered walls, but in our eyes could see the tables and toys that would become Arkham.
Two years later and you know, few dreams come true, but Arkham came pretty darn close. I still have in my drawer at work, written on the back of an order form Arkham's ' ethos' a gaming place, free from partisan politics and pressures, where gamers of all types can meet, share and play..... Me, I'm a dreamer, Phil I'd call a visionary. Not a gamer himself, but he could see and share the dream and it was thanks to him that that dream took form and became real. Obviously there where other hands, some stayed through, some moved on to other things. That's the thing with life and evolution, change happens, stagnation brings decay.
With Phil and the Arkhamites or inmates, various names have been applied, Arkham went bounding into the Irish Gaming Community. loved by some, not so much by others. A wake up call and an inspiration to many. Everything that people said couldn't be done with gaming here was pretty much done by Arkham, and with bells on.
Bad luck can play its part, loss of faith can take its toll, but Phil displayed a dogged attitude that many others could take as stubborn, but in the face of both personal challenges and business challenges Phil squared up and carried on where many others would have slunk quitlely into the night.
I've lost track of the years I've known Phil, he's one of the few guys who could tell me 'where to go' and I him, and the next day carry on as if nothing happened. We had the measure of each other, that's not to say we always saw eye to eye, but we always found a way that the uncommon ground didn't effect the common. Friendships are a rare thing, they expand and contract, good times and bad and in bad I've always been glad I've known Phil.
When Phil decided that his life was going in another direction, I'll admit to an amount of fear. It's a friends job to worry for their mates, to perhaps scorn them a little and poke some fun, but respect is due that when someone sees they need to change its a rare person still has the guts to tackle that. Obviously as you've read elsewhere there's a mini phil on the way :) and who wouldn't want, especially in these times, greater stability and security for family and home. I don't need to wish Phil well, he's not vanishing to faraway parts, but I will miss his input, his counsel and mad cap ideas and some times too his tendency to grab an idea and just jump!
The community that grew around Arkham is as diverse in many ways as the hands that have helped build and shape the community. A club that isn't a club, is bound to be an exotic creature, with many members who perhaps under other circumstances would never have met, let alone played together. Arkham opened eyes and minds to new games, new ways to play, it challenged peoples expectations and experiences. I'm equally pleased to say that from the swirling mass that is Arkham I count a number of people as friends, whom I would otherwise never have know. That to me is a benefit beyond counting. Gaming without boundaries, created friendships without boundaries.
Now what group of people don't have their differences, there squabbles and their fall outs? None. But the glory of the Arkham ethos was that when such things occurred, everyone was interested in the resolution, and the community fixed itself. Obviously there will be a period of adjustment as we all find solid ground once again. But they are a creative, imaginative and wonderful group of people, whom when the dust settles, I have no doubt will see that really everything has changed, and everything is still the same.
It's also funny how a geographical location can quietly become as much a part of the community as the people.
Sadly ill health as well as personal and public pressures have hampered us from clear and decisive announcements and steps. So far.
But illness has to go to the side for now, to both recognise as I hope we have, the major contribution Phil has made to the gaming community in Ireland, and the massive contribution the membership of Arkham have made over the past couple of years. I could if pushed give you a list of achievements and a run of names, but no matter how big or small the contribution, it has been the collective actions of the whole that made Arkham what it was, and galvanised the spirit that it sought to create.
As for Wee gamers? Well I think I've said enough for now, this was as much a salute to Arkham rather than a mission statement from us.
Enough to say that Wee Gamers will be adapting its original plans to establish a hobby centre that we hope will be able to offer and maintain the same spirit of inclusive and open gaming that Arkham set out to, and did create.
We already have made arrangements to host the 40k tournament this weekend, we are already booked for several of the Irish Conventions and will have a temporary home which the Arkhamites can avail of, an ark of sorts for now, but it will be open to any and all who see that the hobby is a varied and shared experience, one best enjoyed when shared, and best enjoyed when respected.
Further dull and serious statements may follow. Yeah, they probably will, wont they?
But you know, if it ain't fun folks......don't do it, cause we won't :)
Phil, to paraphrase Mr Spock " you always have been, and always will be my friend......live long .....and prosper....."