Derham Groves

Vale John Michell, 1933 – 2009

fortean_times_3442_124.jpgjm_self2.jpgI was very sad to learn of the death of John Michell, the eccentric ‘Dr Who-like’ author of many books on geomancy and sacred geometry. I corresponded with him when I was doing my Masters on building ceremonies in the early 1980s, inviting him to give a lecture at the University of Minnesota in 1984. When I picked John up at the airport, he had a brown paper bag full of clothes and a suitcase full of books. His lecture at the university was the best … and the worst. He needed a heliograph (?), and when I asked him what that was he said after a moment’s thought, ‘A toaster for books’. And he was absolutely right! The spine of the book he was projecting broke, the extreme heat melted the glue, and the in-built fan blew the pages out of the machine one after the other while he was speaking. It was hilarious! But John wasn’t fazed one bit. He stayed in our tiny one-bedroom flat in Minneapolis for a couple of days, and there were stories galore concerning that. For instance, he slept in the nude, blanket-less, on our sofa, waking very late, while we woke early and had to ‘divert our eyes’ as we tip-toed around him! Then in 1992, when I was doing my PhD and flat broke, I stayed with him for a few day in London (his house was just around the corner from the Portobello Road Market) and he was an extremely gracious host. What a colourful character John was!