Thursday, August 18, 2011

Stuart Miller - R.I.P.

Stuart Miller
I thought about posting this news at my new blog, but decided that I should post it here, on what was always a UFO-centered blog. Sadly, this kind of information is the only reason I would post here again.

The terrible news that came to me today, via Nick Redfern, is that our good friend Stuart Miller, former publisher of UFO Review (you can find a link to an old issue here) and Alien Worlds Magazine, and long-time contributor to UFO Updates and Errol Bruce-Knapp's radio show Strange Days Indeed, was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident in May.

Stuart and I at his home in Altrincham, UK - 2006
Stuart was one of the truly good guys in ufology. I had corresponded with him for a number of years prior to 2006, when he invited me to speak at a UFO Conference that he was holding in Altrincham (you can read a local news article on it here). Nick was going to be there as well, and I was headed to the United Kingdom to interview Nick Pope in London for my documentary Best Evidence, so I thought it sounded like a great idea. The problem was that Stuart couldn't pay me, which was fine (I've never taken a speaker's fee), but Best Evidence was on a tight budget, and my cameraman Findlay Muir and I had no place to stay in the Manchester area. No problem, said Stuart - we could stay with him, along with Nick and his wife Dana. And so we did, for several days after the conference was over, and had a grand time. It was at that conference back in 2006 that I met my good mate, Dave Sadler, with whom I went ghost hunting in 2009 in the Manchester area for Ghost Cases.

Stuart and Nick on Stuart's patio - 2006.
While I was at his house, I thought it would be fun to interview Stuart for Best Evidence. It didn't make the final cut, but I posted a transcript of it here a couple of years ago. In the introduction to that post, I wrote:
Stuart makes a great cup of tea (or sometimes a vat, if he’s using one of his super-sized cups), he probably knows more about motorcycles than anyone in ufology, he has a lovely family, a very friendly dog named Molly, and he enjoys his stogies. He is articulate, knowledgeable, and opinionated, which always makes for a good interview.

If I have a problem with Stuart, it’s that he's too modest (all of it genuine) about his own role in ufology. UFO Review is one of the best places to go for a comprehensive summary of the news of the day in the world of the paranormal, and his bi-monthly e-zine of the same name, which usually exceeds a hundred pages of content, is a must-read. His monthly UK reports on the Strange Days… Indeed radio show are always a good listen, and he’s to be commended for having the guts to put on a UFO conference at a time when attendance for conferences is down across the board. In short, he’s an important person within ufology, and makes, in his own way, a very significant and worthwhile contribution.
I later posted a clip from that interview, wherein Stuart discussed the Rendlesham Forest case (the clip also features Stan Friedman, Nick Pope, and Dick Hall, another good friend who passed away in 2009).

There is so much I could say about Stuart, with whom I was supposed to have lunch in 2009 when I was in the Manchester area shooting Ghost Cases. He was super keen to get together, but I just couldn't quite find the time, busy as I was filming, something I regretted then, and regret even more now. Time is the one thing you can never get back.

Stuart's great mag Alien Worlds, for which I wrote.
Sadly, he could only keep it going for 4 issues.

I'll leave you with my fondest memory of Stuart.

I was at the Conference, and things weren't going well. The English football team was playing that day in the 2006 World Cup, which meant that Stuart's timing couldn't have been worse. Looking around the room, I could tell that with only 15 to 20 paying customers, he was going to lose money... probably a fair bit of money. I felt bad for him, so while one of the speakers was giving his lecture, I sidled up to Stuart, who was standing next to the refreshment counter / bar, watching the man speak. It was perhaps 11 am.

"Tough sledding," I said. Trying to buck up his spirits, I added: "I bet there'll be more people here in the afternoon."

He just shook his head. "No," he replied. "There's probably going to be fewer people here by then."

I didn't quite know what to say, so I just stood there with him for a couple of moments, both of us silent. Then he walked behind the bar, poured himself a beer, and then poured another for me. He walked back around to the front of the bar, handed me my beer, smiled, and simply said "Fuck it."  Then he took a long drink and laughed, and we both proceeded to have a no-holds barred chat about life, UFOs, and good English beer.

This excerpt from the interview Errol Bruce-Knapp conducted with Stuart, Nick and I later that evening (and it was very late in the UK), sums up the hijinks that we were up to that grand day in Altrincham in May, 2006 - and shows what a wonderful fellow Stuart was (Nick offers his own thoughts on Stuart here; Errol comments here).

Stuart Miller was a genuinely good man, full of joie de vivre, wit, humour, and a true spirit of adventure and humanity. He will be missed by all who were lucky enough to know him.

Paul Kimball