After he retired, Felix came to my class in Writing for Children, and we remained in touch ever since. His sense of humour was beguiling and wicked. He enjoyed great success, or perhaps notoriety, with two books Abigail at the Beach and Abigail Goes Visiting. Abigail's sand castle is threatened by passing boys. 'You touch one of my towers and I'll get my daddy to hang you both upside down by the heels. He's in the Mafia.' The illustrations by Christine Roche were a work of comic genius. 54 MPs of all parties signed a Commons early day motion in December 1988 condemning 'Professor's drink and violence bedtime story,' and demanding that Collins withdraw it. This was righteously reported in the Evening Standard, Daily Mail, Daily Express, The Mirror, Guardian and a column devoted to it in The Times. Collins bravely published the second book but got cold feet over the third.
Felix, of course, had the time of his life, relishing every moment in the limelight.
All this from a man of kindness, gentleness and humour.
Felix toyed with other book ideas but eventually deserted us for his next enthusiasm - mosaic making. We missed him.
January 27th, 2016
I met Felix on several occasions a few years ago through my late father, Hyman Frankel, who was an amateur scientist and had sought Felix's advice. Felix was always very generous to my father with time and information. I remember once meeting him and he explained very emphatically that he had been, but was no longer, a physicist. I thought he was being unduly modest.
January 15th, 2016
I first met Felix in 1986 when a fellow student in an editing course I was attending was his partner at the time, Marta Monteleoni. As I recall Marta had not long come from Rome to live with Felix. Marta and I became firm friends, and she would often invite me to Siddons Court where I would enjoy peerless hospitality chez Marta and Felix: Marta would pour suitably stiff gins and orange and serve delicious risottos accompanied by mouth-watering white Italian wine, which was always generously topped up by Felix. The meal would end with excellent Felix-made cappuccino.
The conversation was always lively and the banter between Felix and Marta often sparky, but never acrimonious. I must confess I was often stumped by Felix’s searching questions about optics (my profession was orthoptics). But I always came away from Siddons Court feeling stimulated, satisfied, and with my evening well spent. My life was much the richer for my time spent with Felix and Marta.
The last time Terry and I were invited to Siddons Court we arrived on the wrong night! Both Felix and Marta were deep in work and dropped everything and insisted we stay to eat. Out of apparently nothing Marta created as ever a fabulous Italian meal and we had as lovely an evening as we ever had with our impeccable hosts.
When Terry and I married in 2002 we were delighted when we were given a mosaic (sent to the pictures on Felix’s website) that Felix had made of a water-colour painting of our Hebden Bridge house which had been on our wedding invitation
On another occasions we visited one of Felix’s ateliers near Waterloo, I think it was. One of his sculptures caught my eye and I suggested buying it. Felix gave the money to Médecins Sans Frontiers.
We are deeply sorry to hear of Felix’s passing and offer our sincerest sympathy to all his family.
Liz Middleton & Terry Statham
14 January 2016
January 14th, 2016