There is news so bad as to be like fear. You never get used to it, and it grips you just as hard every time. Such was the news of the death of our dear and brave colleague Maria Pittordis. All our best possible thoughts go to her family and others closest to her at this dreadful time. It seems impossible to capture the phenomenon that was Maria, but perhaps happy and fond reflection can help chart the course. Maria was relentlessly hard-working. None of her frequent business odysseys ever curtailed 24/7 email traffic, and though a tireless rally driver in litigation's fast lane she always had a moment if you needed one, readily pausing to help or counsel, listening with her eyes as she engaged her whole attention while a limitless subconscious grappled with so much else, often also while she tore enthusiastically into a home-prepared lunch that spoke of great culinary skills. Though always striving for comfortable consensus in both casehandling and leadership, she could be forthright and firm, but she was never more or longer so than necessary, preferring warm geniality, impish humour and her trademark resonant laughter that could turn the street round, a son et lumière animating countless meeting rooms and corridors, heralding her arrival and going before her like a bow wave. She never shrank from battle, but keen instincts meant she rarely toiled in vain. All of her legion clients (and many colleagues) knew that she was in the fight for them, stem, stern and anchor, deploying skill and craft in seeking and usually getting the best outcome. Always with discretion, she would often relate cases, issues and tactics, sharing her wisdom in one of many examples of generosity of spirit. Informally in the kitchen, amid her very many training sessions or in general marketing strategy, commitment and collaboration was her code. She knew how to work. Office dress sometimes gave way to formal wear or some other striking outfit as Maria hosted a client day or attended an evening function, at ease in any such setting, happy, gregarious and universally sought out. She was great fun to be with, and occasional Mondays or returns from holiday were punctuated by measured accounts of crazy family days or home parties long into the small hours. She knew how to play. Highly successful in her career, Maria was reckoned a formidable opponent. Some such women get or seek a folkloric reputation as a Scythian warrior who has abandoned femininity to become a harsh, domineering and dreaded icon. For Maria any such would have been myth neither fostered nor craved. Rightly held in the highest professional regard, a major asset to any client and often the crucial difference, she was and remained a caring and compassionate woman, wife and mother. The family of which she was matriarch will be justly proud beyond measure. Maria Pittordis was Florence Nightingale and Queen Boadicea, Stella Rimington and Dawn French, Agatha Christie and Sara Cox. She was courageous, determined, clever, witty, wily and warm, disarming, generous, frank, fearless and fun and a woman of integrity, humour, rigour, resolve and rightness. She was an outstanding colleague, an engaging leader and a kind heart. In meeting the terrible and tragic present we can look back on a long and lustrous past. We will mourn Maria's death for a long time, and will celebrate her life for ever. Tim

Sent by Tim on 16/10/2017