VIRUSMYTH HOMEPAGE


IN MEMORIAM
Huw Christie Harry Williams
9th Feb. 1960 - 17th Aug. 2001

By Michael Baumgartner


Huw Christie


"Two roads diverged in the woods and I,
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference ..."

-- Robert Frost


On August 17th Huw Christie, former editor of CONTINUUM Magazine, died at the age of 41 at his father's home in St. Helens, Tasmania, Australia. He remained editor until March of this year, even though he was not well, and, therefore, had moved back to his family.

The world lost a man who was committed to fact-finding journalism, a rarity in today's world of commercially conscious reporting. Huw Christie's magazine was to date the only scientific AIDS and health journal where critical, fact-based, uncensored reporting about AIDS and its suggested cause, the alleged "HI-Virus", was possible. By doing so he helped hundreds possibly thousands of people around the world to make informed choices about their health and the treatment of their conditions, classified as AIDS.

An incisive mind, and a generous friend, we at IFAS/CONTINUUM mourn Huw Christie's death and honour his memory and all he has done for people at risk of medically induced death.

Huw Christie Harry Williams was born on 9th February, 1960, in George, South Africa. He moved with his mother, Jean, and father, Eryl Williams Christie, to the Australian island of Tasmania in 1961, where his sister Kate was born in 1963 and his brother David in 1970.

He went to Devonport Primary School and gained an entry Scholarship to Melbourne Grammar. Huwís brilliance and eagerness to learn showed early. While at Melbourne Grammar School, he was awarded no less than five internal scholarships. In his matriculation year he completed nine subjects and gained high distinctions and the highest mark possible in every one, including music practice and theory.

While at Trinity College, Melbourne, he was accepted and elected to go to Brasenose College, Oxford University, in England. Huw completed his studies in English literature at Oxford with an honours degree.

While waiting to go up to Oxford, Huw - only 18 years old - was invited to teach Latin and French at Melbourne Grammar.

At that time, he also won the C.J. Dennis Memorial Prize for under 18s with a poem entitled Hesitation that he had written for a friend who was leaving.

One of the first things Huw did on arriving at Oxford was to buy a piano for five pounds. Playing the piano was a very important part of Huwís life. Student Huw Williams said his five-pounder made Winifred Atwell's piano sound like a Steinway.

Huw decided to become an actor. His first role was in the television drama For the Term of His Natural Live in 1983. He had his one line to the late Anthony Perkins, who later died of what has been called AIDS.

Huw was part of the South Australian Theatre Company in Adelaide, in Victoria, in New South Wales and Queensland. Both in live theatre, television and films he wrote, produced and acted. In his final year at Oxford he acted in one university and two college productions and wrote, produced and acted in a production at the Edinburgh Festival. Despite all this, he still managed to gain his Oxford honours degree at the end of his final year.

He acted and played the piano in a production with John Olson in South Australia in a play called Masterclass, which they toured throughout Australia. At one stage Huw even considered a career as a concert pianist.

Amongst his belongings shipped back to Tasmania there was an old piano, once used in a dance studio. It has been given to him in London for his 40th birthday. The only time he was well enough to play it was very shortly after it arrived in Tasmania, when he sat down and, with enormous emotion at his fatherís house, played the Welsh National Anthem, bringing his father to tears.

Huw was a man of immense talent. His Valmont in Les Liaisons Dangereuses with the Royal Queensland Theatre Company was said to be outstanding. Huw also had roles in several feature films including Wild Saragossa Sea directed by John Duigan, For Love Alone directed by Stephen Brooks, and The Riddle of the Stinson, directed by Chris Noonan.

Huw himself directed Giving Up the Ghost for the Festival of New Australian Theatre, and co-produced the half hour 16mm film Lavender Bay Getaway. Huw worked continuously, acting and directing in Australia, and later Jamaica, whilst living with his long time partner, Barry Gamba, in Sidney, where they had moved to in 1984. But he decided to pursue his career in Europe and the US, so he moved to Britain in 1991 and lived in Fishguard on the Welsh coast, where he had inherited a small house. Los Angeles never materialised. Instead, he bought a house in London later that same year and founded his own production company, Brazen Films Ltd.

And this is how we met. It was eight years ago, on a cold September day in London. I remember it only too well. I was attending one of those toxic pharmaceutical AIDS-drugs dispense seminars at London's biggest gay fair, the Gay Lifestyle Exhibition, more justly referred to as "London's gay lifestyle exploitation". I had left the seminar in great fury because it was neither scientifically bound nor did it provide opportunities for critical questions. Gays were keen to find yet more poison.

Still fuming, I returned to the stall of CONTINUUM Magazine - my refuge for that day. I discovered its founder, the late Jody Wells, with a microphone in his face. He looked at me, and introduced me as "the man who knows all there is to know about AIDS". Far from being true, I found myself being interviewed and filmed. Behind the camera was Boo Armstrong, later a volunteer with CONTINUUM. Holding the microphone was Huw Christie. Later that day, I recalled the name and face of that charming, soft-spoken, attractive red-head, who I was getting to know, with his over-sized camel coat, later to be lost on his a visit to Bern. I wanted to meet him again, because open-minded gay men willing to listen carefully were rare. The gay world of dissent is colder and lonelier now you have gone, Huw, and so is my life.

It took you several months - my 28th birthday was coming up - to ring me. I had almost forgotten about you by then. You talked about making a movie and invited me to work on the AIDS-related scientific aspects of it. So you invited me to dinner. It was exactly my 28th birthday. I impressed you with my inside knowledge of the psycho-social-political dimension of the AIDS-abuse, and you charmed me with your warm voice, gentle smile and good looks. I wanted to act in your movie. You were after an ..... affair. We both didn't get what we wanted that night.
But still we decided to meet again. Later that same year, you invited me back to London to work on the documentary part of your movie called Gettin' It. The movie did not happen for reasons we both know. But we became friends and sometimes a bit more.

I remember how you became involved with CONTINUUM, starting as a researcher for the magazine in 1994. A year later you and Molly took over the magazine from Jody. Jody fell ill, but did not want to let go of being in charge. A problem you did not have last year. You produced your first issue in Molly's living room. Soon after that, she left and CONTINUUM Magazine became Huw Christie.

Brazen Films ceased to exist and so you changed your career from an actor to that of an editor. You felt it was time to move on, ready for a new challenge. CONTINUUM gave you this challenge. In many ways it became your new stage. But this career was different. Did you really choose it, or did AIDS choose you?

In the summer of 1993, you underwent a so-called "anti-HIV-antibody test". It came back positive. Whilst reading a medical desk-reference book for doctors in the waiting room of an AIDS-service organization in London, you discovered a sentence saying that one should not undergo "HIV" testing for the two-year period following a hepatitis vaccination. You had recently had such a vaccination, shortly before your "HIV-antibody-test". Could this mean, you thought, that your positive test result was not due to the alleged "HI-Virus" alleged to cause AIDS, but was really due to hepatitis-antibodies being wrongly interpreted? And if so, how many other people, especially gay men, were in the same situation, not knowing this important fact, much like you till that day? Your life in London took another dramatic turn. Like all of us, you were hooked into the great AIDS-drama.

"Two roads diverged in the woods and I, I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference ..." You investigated and you published what you found, and, by so doing, helped possibly thousands of people to regain hope and the power over their lives, otherwise lost to the ever growing virus-industry.

You were a man of many gifts. From what was basically little more than a national newsletter, you created an internationally recognized magazine. You highlighted important scientific work by such eminent scientists as Eleni Eleopulos and her team (the Perth Group), the late Professor Alfred Hassig and Professor Peter Duesberg and many others, including an article by HRH the Prince of Wales. You have put the truth out there for the world to see.

You even found time to contribute to New African Magazine and Index on Censorship. And you enjoyed being an associate producer for several documentary films on AIDS. You were so willing to help out others, that many took advantage of your generosity and knowledge. You spearheaded a joint project with the European Commission on health, immunity and nutrition in the Ukraine. You inherited it, much like you inherited the magazine. And you began to hate it, for it became yet another burden on your life. Yet you carried it through, with little money and little help.

In your last year, you travelled to Johannesburg to again be assistant producer to MEDITEL Productions in a revealing film interview with another great mind - like yourself - South African President Thabo Mbeki. This interview was shown on television in many countries and made waves, just like CONTINUUM Magazine did in Britain, thanks to you efforts.

You visited me in Switzerland. We have worked together, first on your film project, then on the magazine, and later on the EU project, and then again on the magazine. I offered to create an advisory panel of scientists and experts for CONTINUUM to help you in your work. But you were not very good in making use of the help offered. You were a loner and it began to show in your work on the business side of CONTINUUM Magazine.

I suggested reorganisation. You listened, but still seemed unable to make the necessary changes in your own life and that of CONTINUUM. It almost seemed to me as if you needed things the way they were? I would not leave you, a promise I gave you and kept till the end. But I did distance myself from our work at CONTINUUM that became your prison. I involved you in the founding of the International Forum for Accessible Science (IFAS) in 1997. That and my regular articles for the magazine remained our professional involvement. However, throughout the years and many difficulties, we stayed loving friends.

The organisation supposed to carry the magazine fell apart. You tried to keep things together for the past two years. People stepped in to help, a little money here, and some equipment there, never enough to really get the magazine off the ground. But it was enough to keep you going, until your health could not take it any longer. CONTINUUM was bankrupt, and you fell into poverty, a situation for which you had no talent.

You were interviewed for one of the many commercial AIDS magazines in December 1999. You finished this interview with the statement that I cannot get out of my mind. You said: "It's a weird world when the kind of people you might want to be close to socially think youíre offensively wrong. I think that's what helped kill people like Jody Wells, not some half-baked HIV." You described your own situation, Huw, didn't you? For you were lonely and more and more isolated in London.

I can still hear your fragile voice, when you finally rang me up in Switzerland and shyly asked me for help. Of all the people you knew who considered you their friend, you called me when you realized you could not take it any more. I am thankful and glad you did, Huw! Shortly after that phone conversation I was in London. What I saw broke my heart.

A lonely, tired, skinny, prematurely aged man - poverty stricken, with the saddest eyes I have ever seen - met me at Liverpool street station in London, in early October last year. You were in pain, physically and emotionally, and you were exhausted. Did the exhaustion finally cease, Huw?

You were afraid of dying, and I saw you crying for the first time ever, when holding you to ease your pain. "You will not die now," I heard myself comfort both of us. "We die when our time is up, and I don't think yours is up yet!" I was right then. But I did not recognise that you had already started the last bit of your journey here on earth. It was clear to me, however, that your life in London must come to its end. And it did. It took us only a few weeks to bring it to a close (as good as possible).

CONTINUUM was of no interest to you any longer. And finally you were able to admit just how much you hated the life you ended up living in London. You referred to it as a rat-walk between your house and the CONTINUUM office. You felt abandoned and wanted to move out. We sold your house in no time. You started to play with the idea of returning to your family to Australia, whilst I prepared our journey to Switzerland. I remembered, how you feared my inevitable return to Switzerland. And how you safely snuggled-up in bed and went to sleep, after I told you, that I had already told my family that I will bring you home with me. For the first time in our relationship you were happy with me taking charge.

We spent much time together in London, Switzerland and later Australia. I was moved by the amount of intimacy you allowed between us. You insisted in our heart-to-heart every night before we went to bed. I massaged your feet and legs, to ease your several physical distresses, as you started to receive the treatments of your choice.
Each symptom made you fear for the worst. Yet the worst-case scenario never came true. Your angels did look after you well, until there was nothing more to be looked after in this life of yours.

Your sister, Kate, brought you home to Tasmania safely late last year. You were looking forward to being an older brother to David. Something you had not been able to do before, you felt. All of a sudden, old childhood friends, including your former partner and colleagues from your time as an actor in Australia, became your life again. We stayed in touch and talked every week at least on the telephone, until, until your sister rang to tell me that you had passed on, with your beautiful blue eyes wide open into the new.

Neither of your illnesses would have brought you down, Huw. You simply ran out of time to change gear. We both knew it did not need some ill-identified virus to explain your several symptoms. You knew the causes for your conditions and so did I. Poverty had taken its toll, and so had the no-future urban gay lifestyle you had in common with so many other gay men, especially in cities like London.

You really were too sensitive for this world, Huw, and, as you said to me one evening, ìsensitive people die youngî. Live fast and die young, you did it, and yet you seemed the most surprised when death came to you at 8.15 am on a sunny, winter day in Tasmania on August 17th. Did you really think that just because there is no "HIV", your situation was not serious?

You have taught me important gifts, gifts that will help me throughout my life, such as accepting things we cannot change, diplomacy, to the extent my emotional persona allows, generosity, as you were one of the most generous people I have known. You made me see that we are of the privileged kind. We choose to do something meaningful in our lives, something that helps others, even if we might never see the full extent of our contribution ourselves. Your greatest gift to me, though, was never to feel imprisoned by our lives. And you gently forced me to write, something I never thought I could do. I know, you are proud to see what I have published since. And, even though Iíll be never as good a writer as you were, I will continue to express my opinions and insights on paper, as promised!

I often ask myself what I might have given to you, and when I cannot remember, I read the card you have gave me last year for Christmas. "You are my saint," you wrote. Will you be my Guardian Angel now?

You have been my first great love, Huw (something you felt ambivalent about). I will continue to "intrude" into your life on the other side, Huw, just as I did in your life in London after we met those eight years ago. I will always remember fondly your "Michael! Hello!" whenever I rang you, and I, yes Huw, I do know how much my love meant to you.

As for CONTINUUM Magazine, you left me with a great responsibility. You never demanded that I should take it over and yet you had the confidence in me to do a good job as editor of CONTINUUM Magazine. Thank you for that! We discussed that it would be good if CONTINUUM Magazine - the only critical AIDS magazine - remained under the leadership of a gay men. After a short period as acting-editor, I now had to make the professional decision you never did, to close CONTINUUM-Magazine down. Before I do so, I see it as my duty to make sure CONTINUUM Magazine will not be forgotten and all the important articles, carefully chosen by you, will stay accessible.

Let us face it: CONTINUUM Magazine was you! It will never be the same without you. Others have filled the gap of distributing crucial information on AIDS. None of these venues is quite like yours was, but the spirit of CONTINUUM Magazine will live on. Just as yours does in my life!

.... and as for me, well, I might just write my book finally. Yes, Huw, the one we have talked about over dinners and glasses of wine, the one you always wanted me to write.

I am ending this obituary to you my friend with a paragraph of someone you always reminded me of somehow, "The Little Prince":
"Come and play with me," the little Prince proposed. "I am so sad ..."
"I cannot play with you," said the fox. "I am not tamed yet!"
"Oh, sorry!" said the little Prince, and, after a moment's thought, he added: "What does it mean, "to tame"?"
"You are not from here," said the fox. "What are you looking for?"
"I look for the people," said the little prince. "What does it mean, "to tame"?"
"That is something forgotten," said the fox. "It means to make oneself familiar with."
"To make familiar with?"
"Sure," said the fox. "You are nothing but a little boy to me, just like all the other little boys out there. I do not need you, and you do not need me either. I am just a fox for you, like all the foxes in the world. But if you make yourself familiar with me, we will need each other. You will be the only one for me in the world, just as I will be the only one for you in this world ....."

I was but a Swiss, and you were but an Australian both living in London, when we first met. But we did tame each other after all, Huw, didn't we?Love You Always!

Michael.

Huw Christie is survived by his mother, Jean Christie-Williams, his father Eryl Williams, and his sister, Kate Williams, and brother, David Williams, and his family, to whom I wish to express my deepest gratitude for having welcomed me in their lives when Huw needed me, respecting his wishes, even when it might have been difficult, and to attend him till the end.
YOU ARE A WONDERFUL FAMILY!

I would, furthermore, like to express my deepest gratitude to the following people for the love and support they have given Huw and me:

My family, especially my parents Hans and Nelly for opening up our home to my man in need, cooking delicious meals (Huw said your chicken pizza was heaven, Dad!), cleaning for us and keeping Huw good company (I will not forget how you and my mom spoke French and had good gigles! And I forgive you mom, for giving him his favourite Swiss cookies, when they were clearly not on his diet!)! To my beautiful sister, Sena-Susanne for her assistance with hospital staff (I might be in prison now for killing an AIDS-specialist, if it werenít for you!) and nursing Huw when I needed to sleep! I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH! And to her partner, Thomas, for driving us from hospital to hospital and back, when yet another step was due!

To all the staff - especially the nurses - at the Ita-Wegman-Clinic in Arlesheim, Basel, especially Dr. Wildervank! We finally found a hospital that helped us by co-operating with Huw's treatment wishes! THANK YOU FOR ALL!
To Kate Williams for coming to Switzerland to take Huw home, for always respecting his wishes, even if they might have been difficult to accept at times. YOU ARE A REAL GREAT SISTER!

To the two nurses, Jera and Michael, who were nursing Huw seven days a week, THANK YOU!

To his long time partner, Barry, and all his Australian friends, who welcomed Huw back into their lives, THANK YOU for the friendship you even extended to me!

To Sara and Nigel from CONTINUUM Magazine, THANK YOU for staying with us till the end!

To Huw's London friends, Joan, Clair, and Cordelia, THANK YOU for helping us getting through the last and difficult days in London!

... and THANK YOU WITH ALL MY HEART, all other angels in London, Switzerland and Tasmania (including the travels in between!), who - albeit unnamed here, are not forgotten - helped us in so many ways by ending Huw's pain and making his journey home easier!

HUW IS AT PEACE AT LAST!

Bern, Switzerland, October 2001,
Michael Baumgartner,
acting editor of CONTINUUM Magazine


VIRUSMYTH HOMEPAGE