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Memories of Nick Booth

MicroScope editor Simon Quicke reflects on his relationship with the publication’s long-time contributor

Sadly, Nick Booth, a long-time contributor to MicroScope, has passed away. This is an attempt to share why he mattered and deserves to be remembered. Hopefully, others will write more encompassing obituaries because he deserves those, but these are a few of my thoughts. I was lucky enough to be able to call Nick a friend and I will miss him deeply.

If you are a Crystal Palace FC supporter, then you are usually in the minority and naturally drawn to someone you discover shares your often wasted and painful passion. My friendship with Nick Booth began back in 1995 as I was starting as a journalist and discovered the man who sat in the office next door was a fellow Palace fan – so much of one that as I was flicking through my copy of We All Follow The Palace book one night, there was a piece he had written on former manager Malcolm Allison.

On paper as editor of Network Reseller News, he was intimidating, but over a few pints and a shared cab back to South London, a funny and gentle man emerged. An editor with a keen wit, a dislike of office politics and a desire to encourage debate, often through the use of humour. There are stories of other nights we spent together where he moved from impersonating a Dutch tourist and got as far as boarding their coach before being discovered to be pretending, with an equally impressive accent, to two men from Oldham he had grown up in the same area and attended their school. Then there was the night listening into BBC radio 5’s 606 fan phone-in programme, when I randomly heard Nick calling in impersonating a Man United fan moaning about the price of their new kit. He was funny, of course, but he was driven by a need to shake things up and challenge the status quo.

After leaving Network Reseller, he became a freelancer and wrote for nationals and plenty of magazines. He never boasted of his ability to spread his bylines, but simply found more homes for his clever writing. There were some hiccups, sometimes over money dodgy publishers owed him and continued to owe him, despite a small claims court victory. Or, when he wrote about the business relationship between Boris Johnson and Jennifer Arcuri and lost a regular writing gig because he’d mistakenly been seen to be accusing the future PM of being too close in other ways to the American entrepreneur. You can imagine how recent events both amused him and restoked his sense of grievance over that affair.

Throughout the years as I moved into the role of features editor and eventually editor at MicroScope, I worked more closely with Nick in his role as a regular contributor. For at least the past decade, he delivered a monthly column. Sadly, as his illness progressed, these became less frequent, but he continued to pitch ideas and share thoughts in what he felt needed to be discussed in the channel. Even as recently as last month, despite being in pain, he informed me he was looking to write a piece that would expose some of the difficulties people had working in the industry.

One of the recurring themes of columns he wrote, or discussed writing, in the past few years was the frustration he had with an industry that is meant to deliver solutions to help users collaborate and communicate, but was often so bad at doing it itself. It wasn’t just the irksome acronyms the IT industry likes to use, but more a broad point about being able to tell a customer in simple language what the technology actually does. Thinking about it, I believe it was because of his supreme ability as a writer and communicator that he could not understand why many marketers, paid to talk about the technology, were unable to deliver the same clarity. The simple reason was, of course, that they were not Nick. His ability to communicate, both on the page and in person, will be missed acutely by those that knew him and read his work.

Remembering Nick brings a smile. Memories of funny moments are mixed with an appreciation for his patience and pathos to a fellow journalist developing his career. The IT press has lost a legend, the channel a keen observer of its fortunes, Palace one of its more intelligent supporters, and I have lost a friend. Rest in peace Nick, and thanks for everything.

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