Where do I start?
How on earth can I sum Gytha up in five minutes? In five hours? Ten?
I met her at my first convention in 1982, we stayed up all night in the ball room of a hotel drinking a barrel of home brewed mead and singing bawdy songs with about 20 big hairy Vikings. It was quite an introduction for a 19 year old, still living at home with a drab and boring life. Gytha, I realised, was what I wanted to be when I grew up.
There are words to describe her
But those words can describe lots of people, lots of people in the world, lots of people in this room right now with her.
She was a fabulous cook, from a three course meal to a medieval banquet to an impromptu vegan dinner for unexpected guests.
She was a gifted seamstress, whether you wanted fine detailed needlepoint for a museum or authentic costume for the SCA or scummy Viking kirtles. For scummy Vikings, of course. Except for Richard who wanted pristine white and became known as The Persil Paladin.
She was a swordswoman, an actress, an MC. She was carried on to Viking battlefields on a shield as a Valkerie and she stood behind the microphone narrating the show for the general public. I didn't realise before I met Gytha that Valkeries wore stockings and suspenders.
She could organise a Science fiction Convention, or a Star Trek Convention or an Insulae Draconis event or a Viking battle. Or she'd just be the first person up in the morning and do your washing up for you.
She single headedly started Filking (Science fiction folk music) in Britain, which in turn spread out across Germany and Europe. So it's all Gytha's fault.
She would set the ball rolling and encourage it to gain momentum - she bullied, sorry persuaded myself and some friends to run the fourth British filkcon in 1992 which lead to us running the Eastercon in 1995 which lead us to starting a fanzine in 1996 which lead us to winning The Hugo in 2005. All Gytha's fault.
And then there was Richard, he's all Gytha's fault too. And Richard made Gytha a better person because she wasn't a saint and she wasn't perfect and she knew it. He supported her, loved her and stuck by her from day one of their relationship to the vert end and she adored him for his unconditional love.
The thing about Gytha was that she wasn't just good at things but that she got others to do things too.
And of course, her name will now be around for as long as there is a Terry Pratchett book in print as he named one of his principal characters after her.
She organised people. She organised amongst others, SF fans and flikers and re-enactors, which is a bit like saying she herded cats, She was very good at it.
She brought out the best in people, she encouraged, supported, helped and even bullied if that was the best tactic.
She organised me, which is no mean feat. She had me standing up in front of 5 thousand fans at a Worldcon to MC a masquerade for four hours, so standing here talking to her friends and family should be easy, But it isn't, it's very hard because she's not here with us.
Except in our memories, in our love of her.
I didn't become Gytha when I grew up, I became me but when I look round at you all, I know that, like me, you realise that knowing Gytha made you a better person, made you try things you hadn't considered before she pushed you, made you open yourself up to a new, or an old idea. We've lost Gytha but we haven't lost what she gave to all of us.
Let's go to the hotel and celebrate a strong, beautiful woman who made all our lives richer, let's raise a glass of vodka and coke or cointau and ice or a horn of mead to a fabulous person taken from us too soon but who we will never forget. Let's tell each other stories and share memories.