I have just heard the sad news that Professor Mick Aston died last night, or early this morning (June 24th, 2013). I thought I would write this short post as a tribute and as a way of facing-up to his death myself. I’ve just spoken on the phone for some time to Phil Harding and he, like me, is finding it hard to accept what has happened. Maybe things will become clearer soon.
I’ve known Mick for the best part of 30 years and even saw the first screening of the Time Team pilot film, back, I think in 1990. I thought it was contrived and terrible. I didn’t think it stood a chance of launching a series, let alone twenty of them. But it did, because the Commissioning Editor of Channel 4 could see its potential, which I couldn’t. More fool me. But Mick was about far more than Time Team alone. He was an ardent, almost obsessive, archaeologist and he loved to be out there, surrounded by it. Visiting a church with Mick was a wonderful experience: he had no sympathy whatsoever for the religion, but he loved what it had bequeathed us in the form of buildings, graves and monuments. Whenever I saw a vicar approaching I would try and steer Mick in the opposite direction.
I’ve been through my photo album and have selected two pictures. The first was taken by my wife Maisie and shows Mick rather self-consciously wearing one of his (many) ‘trade-mark’ striped jumpers in front of Long Sutton Church, in south Lincolnshire. This was a publicity picture for a lecture he did a few weeks later as part of a fund-raising campaign to save the Church roof (which was successful within a few months, largely thanks to Mick).
The second is a close-up I took on a Time Team shoot, back in 2007. I think it shows his more thoughtful, reflective side. Anyhow, there it is. And I think I’m starting to face-up to his parting. Rest in Peace, old friend.