"Marriage is the only adventure open to cowards."
Voltaire, "Pensées d'un philosophe"
AN INTERVIEW WITH RICHARD "FELICE" SPOWART
by Richard Karsmakers
All of you surely know "Disk Maggie", the fine disk magazine
formerly made by Germans but now - thankfully - made on semi-
regular basis by a bunch of Britons. One of the people who is
most active in the creation of "Maggie", besides Chris "CIH"
Holland, is Richard Spowart, who goes through life by the
monicker of Felice. For years, I guess, people have wondered who
this obscure person is. Chris manages to throw in lots of stuff
about himself - an editor's prerogative <grin> - but Felice seems
to be working rather more in the background. In this final part
of a series of interviews with people who are (or have been)
important in the disk magazine world, this time I'd like to
feature an extensive, in-depth interview with the number two man
in "Maggie", a really likeable chap, come on, give him a hand,
Can you give us a short biography of your life?
Richard: I was born in Bedford, England on the 28th of April,
1971 and attended the local schools in the catchment area close
to the village I used to live in. The education I got was OK, I
suppose, but not brilliant.
I started off with a 48K Sinclair Spectrum, which was the
biggest machine at that time of my life (when I was 12). A few
years later I 'progressed' to the Amstrad CPC6128, I say
progressed as the software that was released was mostly poor
quality conversions of previously good games. A little while
after this, I got an Atari ST (saved up my YTS money to buy one
from September '88 till Christmas of that year). I still have it
even now, though at the moment it is in the wardrobe, boxed.
Since September of 1993 I have owned a Falcon 030, which I have
enjoyed very much.
At present I am single and living with my mother (my parents
split up some time ago) but am hoping to emigrate to Canada in a
few months to find good permanent employment and, hopefully, a
With regards to employment, I have been involved in several
temporary contracts with agencies since my redundancy from a
company in 1995 (and my first real job too!) but nothing has
cropped up as yet. The situation around here regarding employment
just seems to be getting no better, yet it has been the same for
the last six or seven years. Unfortunately for me, I came out of
college when the recession started...so that has been the main
reason for not having a full-time job as yet.
I found out a couple of years ago (on reading "Schindler's
List") that I shared the same birthday as the great man himself,
and also, it appears that I share the same date (albeit a year
later) with Slimer of "DBA Magazine".
Can you give us a short description of the surroundings where
you live? Its nightlife, its people?
Richard: Well, after the little village called Keysoe where I
lived for just over nineteen years (and there was no 'nightlife'
or people there as such) things have changed for me now that I'm
living at St Neots in Cambridgeshire. Although I don't often go
into town for drinks, preferring to join my local friends at the
nearby village of Kimbolton, the reason mainly for this is that
the town centre can be a bit of a no-go area at night. I suppose
the only safe nightlife there can be in St Neots is if you hire a
movie from the local moviestore, they've got a pretty good
selection of movies for rental.
Can you give us a description of your home, most specifically
the room where you do your work or another room that you perhaps
think deserves to be known better?
Richard: The vast majority of my hobby is carried out on the
Falcon, which is in my bedroom - but my PC that I sometimes use
for work is in a separate room. The house where I live is nice,
built last year and is in a pretty quiet estate on the outskirts
of town. My actual bedroom at the time of writing is in what my
mother would call 'a mess' but she is 50% right anyway. I seem to
hoard loads and loads of paper, consisting of credit card
receipts, old train tickets, etc. I'll have to get it sorted out
What do *you* look like? Or, at least, how would you describe
yourself (feel free to throw in a few character traits as well)?
Richard: I think that I look reasonably intelligent and have a
lot of care for others who show that back to me (such as close
friends etc) but I reckon I would describe myself as a serious
type of person who enjoys good quality real humour (like 'Weird
Al' Yankovic) and not the poor quality so-called humour that is
on British TV late at night (programmes like "Fist of Fun" and
"Father Ted" come to mind here).
What is (are) your worst habit(s)?
Richard: Well, where I used to live, I used to hoard all of my
old computer magazines under my bed, never wanting to get rid of
any of them. Sadly, they all went out in the bin when we moved
house. One thing my local mates reckon is a bad habit of mine is
this endless attraction that cats seem to have for me,
particularly those owned by the landlords of pubs. I do tend to
find that if I go into a pub where there is a cat roaming around
(even if I have never seen it before) it'll always come and park
itself on me once I get sat down somewhere!
Do you have any pets and, if so, what kind? What are their
Richard: I don't have any pets where I live, but my father and
his girlfriend own two cats, called Baggy and Tink. Both of them
are very friendly and go mad whenever I appear on the scene!
If I were ever to visit you, where would you take me for a night
Richard: It would depend on what you wanted to do. Apart from a
pub-crawl around St Neots, there are good clubs and a good cinema
over at Peterborough. Of course, I could always take you to
Kimbolton on yes, a pub crawl, with a group of people who may
well start singing once they get drunk and start dancing to
Elvis, but who never cause any trouble as such.
Do you do any other work except for that through which most
people tend to know you?
Richard: I'm starting to get a bit more involved on the Internet
side of things, and, at the time of writing, am about to start
working on a web site for a company, on behalf of a local firm.
What programs in your AUTO folder or ACC directory would you
rather not be without, and why?
Richard: The SCC prog, which boosts up the speed of the Falcon's
serial port. This helps a lot when using the Internet, as
formerly it was only possible to get a speed of 19200 baud even
on a 28800 modem. Now I can get 28800 baud on both Internet and
What is your local ST/TT/Falcon scene like?
Richard: Apart from Chris Holland, who lives about 20 miles
away, the software side of the local Atari scene is a little
bleak. Having said that, there is also Graeme Rutt, who works for
System Solutions. He is based in St Neots (he works for them on a
freelance basis, writing the manuals, etc, for them) but is not
involved in the scene as such (even though Sys Sols are good
friends with many people in the UK Atari scene).
Now if you look at the Jaguar, support for this is pretty good
amongst most retail outlets both in Cambridge and Northampton.
Northampton has the largest (outside London, in my opinion)
number of Jag supporting retail outlets, there is also a good
second-hand console retailer that I make a point of visiting
whenever I go to Northampton. There is often a good stock of Jag
games to be found here.
Which book you read recently made most of an impression on you?
Richard: The best book I read when I was in Gran Canaria at
Christmas was one called "The Rainmaker" by the American author,
John Grisham. I knew that this one was popular before I read it,
but I wasn't aware of just why this was until I got round to
reading it myself.
A book that I read a few years ago (but recently purchased a new
expanded edition of) was one about the Nazi death camp at a place
called Sobibor, near Lublin in eastern Poland. The book, called
"Escape From Sobibor" was written by a guy called Richard Rashke,
and, despite being very harrowing in places was an excellent
read. The successful movie based on the book had been shown on
television some years previously and starred one of my favourite
actresses, Joanna Pacula, and I noticed when I was in Florida
last year that it was one of the top rental titles in most
When I was a bit younger, I read and enjoyed Tolkien's "Lord Of
The Rings" - that is a masterpiece in itself. The movies that
were produced were also pretty good.
What's your favourite season, and why?
Richard: I like the summer, at least there is no (or I hope not)
danger of fog on the roads or ice, etc. But you can't always be
sure with the British summer as it has been known to swing from
one extreme to the other as far as temperatures go. The summer of
1995 was very hot, about the same as in Florida, but the complete
lack of air conditioning in most buildings here in the UK meant
that it was more uncomfortable than in Florida, where all
buildings there - whether they be private homes or public
restaurants - have the air conditioning built in. Canadian homes
and businesses also have air conditioning as standard.
What's your favourite music for flipping out (if ever you do)?
Richard: Either 'Weird Al' Yankovic or Alanis Morrissette's
first new album, the songs of which are often played on the
jukebox at my local.
And when working Working?
Richard: I tend not to play music when I'm working, for some
What computer hardware do you have?
Richard: In my bedroom I have my Falcon, fitted with the Expose
digitiser, plus an external hard drive and monitor. In the
cupboard is my old ST, and my old (but still working) Spectrum,
though I must admit neither machine gets used that much now.
In my office (which is in the spare bedroom) I have a 486-DX2/66
PC fitted with 8MB of RAM and an internal hard drive. I just
recently upgraded the RAM from 4MB to 8MB - a simple plug-in job.
Also attached to the PC is a graphics digitising board, that I
use for my work.
What computer tools do you use for your work?
Richard: My digitising board is in use for most of my work, but
I also use a HTML design package to put together Web pages. Apex
Media comes in very handy on the Falcon for grabbing pictures,
What is the computer game you play most at the moment? What's
your all-time fave game?
Richard: To be honest, I don't play many games now, but my best
game on the Atari yet has to be "Dungeon Master", which is a
classic. The third trilogy of this has just been released on the
PC...on CD-ROM, but whether I will get this or not I have not yet
My all-time fave game has to be "Skool Daze" on the Spectrum,
but there were other classic games around that I enjoyed, these
were "Manic Miner", "Jet Set Willy", "The Hobbit", "Penetrator"
and the games based on Tolkien's book "Lord of The Rings".
What is the film you've been to recently that made most of an
impression on you?
Richard: I don't often go to the cinema, but the most recent
good movie I have seen is "The Net" starring Sandra Bullock. I
also enjoyed (on video) movies like "Dream A Little Dream", "The
Kiss" and... more recently, John Carpenter's new movie called
"Village of the Damned", a remake of the British 1960s chiller.
Do you remember a film that struck you as being especially crap,
a film you was tempted to get a refund at the cinema for?
Richard: Yes, the so-called British 'hit' movie of 1994,
starring the British actor who found infamy on Sunset Boulevard
with one Divine Brown. The movie, of course, was "Four Weddings
and a Funeral". I saw this with the whole extended family during
one of our annual week-long visits to Blackpool, and I don't
think anyone enjoyed it!
We also had the unfortunate problem of sitting through this movie
again on the coach journey on our way to Symposium (large coding
party in Germany in spring this year, ED.), although at least it
was in Belgian!!
Who do you think is the most stunningly beautiful female to roam
the earth? If it's difficult to pin it down to one, you can name
one for each hair colour (raven, blonde, brunette, red) or
Richard: Um ... I guess the answer for this has to be Meredith
Salenger, although Joanna Pacula is looking as good as ever. You
can see pictures of both of them on the new Maggie web pages,
point your browser at the following URL:
Do you play any musical instruments? If so, which one(s) and how
Richard: I sometimes play the keyboard, but I must admit I'm not
You are connected to the Internet. What would you advise other
Internet users to check out without further ado, i.e. what would
you have parted with your right arm for to have someone reveal to
you when you started out?
Richard: I like the movie-related sites, some very good
information on forthcoming movies can be gleaned from here. A lot
of the movies that are previewed on the Internet are often those
starring actors and actresses who are not as big as, say, Arnold
Schwarzenegger, but who are often just as good, if not better.
Some of the newsgroups are also good for picking up info on any
subject you want to talk about. At least, if you visit the US,
you'll have some idea as to how people think over there whether
you agree with them or not!
When, in many years, you'll eventually die, which song would you
like to be played at your funeral service?
Richard: Now that's a tricky one...I guess it would have to be a
song from 'Weird Al' Yankovic, but which one I'm not quite sure.
What is to you *the* music release of 1996 so far?
Richard: Well, there has actually been a few good music-related
releases in 1996, from American and British bands. I suppose the
best song in the charts so far this year, even though I'm not a
big fan of them, is Oasis's "Don't Look Back In Anger". There
have also been good albums released in the last six months or so
from bands like Pulp and new singers like Alanis Morrissette.
Weird Al has got another hilarious new album out, which is good,
but I've also been getting into the soundtrack album from
Disney's movie hit of last year, "Pocahontas".
What is your favourite holiday destination, and why?
Richard: Canada and the US. I like the people over there, the
weather (particularly in the summer), the movie stores (the
assistants in most US stores seem to know what they are talking
about, which is not the case here in the UK). Hopefully I'll be
living in Canada in a few months time, which means I'll enjoy it
Is there something you see everybody likes but that you loathe
Richard: Yes! Where do I start, I wonder??
Seriously though, I loathe the British tabloid media that
everyone else seems to accept. I hate the way they only bring the
Internet up in their so-called 'scare' stories. The tabloids also
seem to love to create a 'media-hate' figure, even if that
particular figure doesn't exist outside of the silver screen (I'm
mainly talking of Chucky, the doll in the Child's Play movies,
which was blamed for the murder of James Bulger three years ago,
and for the murder of a teenager by a group of teenagers also in
I also loathe the recent crop of British films that have been
hyped to high heaven, such as "Four Weddings" and, more recently,
a movie called "Trainspotting". "Trainspotting" is basically a
movie about heroin addicts, containing coarse language etc, but I
think it does not relate to me or the majority of people I know.
Still, in spite of this, "Trainspotting" got all the hype and
good reviews, compared to John Carpenter's "Village of the
Damned" movie that was slagged off, when, really, it was a better
movie than "Trainspotting" ever could be.
British television also doesn't escape here, either! I'm
increasingly fed up with the so-called computer shows on TV that
have a tendency to ignore a real computer scene, promoting home
computer users as just people who only play games or use their
machine for word processing etc. The increasingly sad daytime TV
shows are also renowned for being boring and only aimed at women
or children, and hardly anyone else. In recent weeks, the so-
called comedy that has appeared on late-night Friday evening TV
has been useless. One programme that I mentioned earlier on
called "Fist of Fun" basically consisted of two comedians who
were basically going on like overgrown schoolboy bullies, much
like those I used to see and hear when I was at school.
What do you remember as the worst ever moment in your life?
Richard: The worst moments of my life were some of the incidents
that happened when I was at school, with some of the teachers.
Because I wasn't co-ordinated at school (I had problems with my
balance) this caused some P.E. teachers to decide that they would
have a bit of fun at my expense, usually in front of the rest of
the class (which was usually the entire year group). One teacher
hit me across the face and then roared with laughter as I slumped
to the floor, along with the rest of the school year. The other
incidents that occurred at school were mainly verbal ones but
still very distressing.
Most cliché question of the interview (possibly): What's your
favourite food? And favourite drink?
Richard: My favourite drink is Coca-Cola, which I do drink a
fair bit of when I go out with my local friends in Kimbolton. I
suppose my favourite food would be a jacket potato with cheese,
prepared as they serve them up at the Piazza, a little restaurant
Suppose you could be Aladdin for a while. Which three wishes
would you make?
Richard: 1. Get rid of the current tabloid media. 2. Get rid of
these so-called traffic calming schemes that tend to make roads
more dangerous for pedestrians and vehicles alike. 3. Sack all
present councillors in all borough and county councils across the
country for better ones that actually speak some sense.
Is there a person you haven't met yet which you'd dearly love to
Richard: I'd love to meet Meredith and Joanna, also Corey
Feldman and Corey Haim, maybe even Rutger Hauer.
If you were confined to a desert island and you could only take
with you one book, five CDs and one luxury item, which would they
Richard: The book would be Margaret Thatcher's 'The Path to
Power' which I haven't read yet, despite buying it last year. As
for the CDs, I think they would be Weird Al's complete box set,
Alanis Morrissette, Pulp, Midnight Oil and the Pocahontas
What invention do you hope mankind will come up with soon?
Richard: That we come up with a cure for MS, something that will
give people like Colin Fisher-McAllum (Sysop of 42BBS and FacTT
File founder) a better quality of life without the problems he
sometimes has from week to week.
Which famous person would you like to have at a party?
Richard: Bill Clinton (the president, not the musician).
If you were ever to have the opportunity to have your own
perfume cosmetics line, what would you call it?
Richard: I think I would call it Salenger, because at the very
least it would let people know just how good the movie actress
What do you think when you look at the moon?
Richard: I think of all these stories of UFOs and wonder if
there is life up there on what appears to be a pretty barren
What is your ultimate ambition, the thing you hope to be
Richard: I hope to be remembered as a writer for either
newspapers or magazines, depending on where my career in Canada
Yes, and now on to the "words to react to" section. The first
bit to react to is "Former Yugoslavia".
Richard: It was very sad to see and hear of the distress of the
peoples of this once fine country in news bulletins, up until
recently anyway. What particularly gets me is the stark fact that
there has been another holocaust, on a similar kind of scale to
the Jewish Holocaust during World War 2, yet when all this was
going on the diplomats who were brought in to try and sort things
out were oblivious to this...until now. The recent discoveries of
mass graves and the re-appearance of concentration camps during
the breakup of Yugoslavia also is beyond belief.
The German football team.
Richard: I've got nothing personal against the German football
team as such; but what I do detest is the kind of 'humour' that
is being printed in the British tabloid media. At the time of
writing, England are playing Germany at Wembley on the evening of
26th June '96, no doubt when you are reading this the result will
be known all over the world - even so, this gives no excuse for
the 'Achtung - Surrender' type headlines and articles in the
British tabloids. However, with the result of the match, it just
goes to show that Germany can still produce winners, unlike our
education system here in the UK, that puts one hell of a lot of
people off sport for life once they have experienced it at
Richard: There are still, sadly, a lot of people who sell copied
software in this area at car boot sales, despite the best efforts
of F.A.S.T to clamp down on this sort of thing. With the way
things are going and the general price of PC software in the
shops (and the fact that people are not buying it) means that one
hell of a lot of developers are going to have to seriously think
about improving future products. Most CD-ROM games, for instance,
are totally unplayable. Even some of the more respectable shops
(like Cash Convertors) sell copied games as blank disks (when
they come with Amigas) even though the disks still contain the
cracked software and labels!!
The old Atari scene (TEX, TCB, TLB, etc.).
Richard: I personally was not involved in the old Atari scene
until I met Chris at a meeting of the local Atari club that used
to be held at Wellingborough (R.I.P.). However, from reading the
large amount of diskmag articles and seeing the large amount of
demos that were produced during this time, seems to me as though
there were a lot of people there having a lot of fun.
When I used to work at Bedford, it appeared as though the PD
sector of the Atari scene just bypassed everyone there. The shops
only sold commercial software. I seem to remember that Software
Plus started up a PD scene, selling software, however their range
was very limited and, looking back on it now, it was the absolute
worst of the crop of PD software around at that time. They were
never interested in including demos, etc, in the PD library
either...they said that these were related to cracking crews,
which was why they couldn't promote them. Personally, this was a
load of bollocks. The big high street stores (and this is the
case today) simply have no interest whatsoever in PD, preferring
their customers to only have access to expensive commercial
software. Of course, as I have stated before, because of the
general economic conditions of the country, people spending 50 UK
pounds or more on PC games are getting rarer and rarer by the
day, even to this date.
But it wasn't all dark, though. One Bedford-based dealer known
as Dowling Computers used demos (supplied by me and other people
in the scene) to help to sell STs and Amigas. Unfortunately,
since they went bust some years ago, a great chapter drew to a
close and Bedford lost what was probably its best computer dealer
Richard: MTV is an OK satellite station, in my view. Between MTV
America and MTV Europe, however, MTV America is the better
station, playing a good range of music from rock to comedy (e.g,
tracks from bands like the Crash Test Dummies and The Pogues and
Weird Al, etc). I find that MTV Europe seems to concentrate far
too much on 'teenybopper' and rave music, which is not good if
you are not a fan of this kind of stuff. They also seem to play a
lot of sanitised rap music from 'clean' rap artists (who I think
are brought in from nowhere by Radio 1 and their ilk) because of
the censorship in the UK, real rap artists like Ice-T get no
plays at all on conventional UK radio or TV.
I also find that the American station plays more contemporary
British, Irish and Scottish music from bands that are unheard of
in the UK, where the 'number one radio station' prefers to
concentrate on a very small proportion of bands like Blur and
Oasis. A local Northamptonshire based band called 'Tough At The
Top' gets regular playing time on MTV America. Don't get me
wrong, the popular stuff like Oasis and Pulp do get their fair
share of plays, but in proportion to other bands.
Football comes home.
Richard: Well, it looked like it was going to, but it has gone
to Germany instead, much to the dismay of the media. What has
'come home' though, is the violence now associated with so-called
football supporters having too much to drink and not being able
to control themselves or what they do.
Richard: One of the more colourful characters in the England
team who came to fame through his tears during 1990, in more
recent times Gazza has been playing football abroad. He recently
joined Rangers and played again for England for Euro 96, but, in
my opinion, did not deserve to be hounded by the media over the
Hong Kong flight business.
Richard: Well, my family originated from Wales many years ago as
they were involved in the coal-mining history of the area, all of
which has sadly died away now. I'm afraid the only things
relating me to Wales are the facts that Leon O'Reilly (Mr Pink of
RG) and 'Pendulum Kev' Davies - who is known as Taff - live
there. Kev also helps out with the "Maggie" front-end pictures
from time to time, whilst Leon has coded the Falcon "Maggie"
shell (and an excellent job he did, too!).
Richard: This number does have a special meaning for me, as it
is known for being part of a Falcon specific bulletin board
called 42BBS. Run by Colin Fisher-McAllum, he promises (when you
log out) that if you have any comments to make, that he will
refrain from reading a poem called "Oh fredlled gruntbuggly".
Richard: He made it big in "Reservoir Dogs", directed by Quentin
Tarantino, but has largely been ignored by the British TV
stations because he's been in a lot of violent movies over the
Richard: A pain in the bum at the best of times - however it is
amazing that many computer orientated companies still DO NOT use
virus-killing software...on the grounds of financial cost. Half
the time, most of the PC virus killer packages are out of date
and can wreck complete hard disks. Much unlike "UVK", in fact!
Richard: The shareware scene seems to be picking up a fair bit,
with Joe Connor's InterActive scheme having had more than 500
registrations of some items of software. Denesh Bhabuta also
supports a scheme called CyberSTrider, which does the same job as
InterActive but with different products. However, a recent chat
with Goodmans PD revealed that someone doing the same sort of
thing but for shareware games on the Atari scene would be
useful...hopefully this will be sorted out soon. For those of you
who don't know these guys, they both wrote for the sadly now-
defunct "Atari World" magazine.
Richard: PCs are OK for work, but as for entertainment, forget
it. The quality of 'games' on the PC is just so poor that it
isn't worth it - but those people who buy PC software 'because so
and so also has a PC' and follow an already expensive bandwagon
are always going to be the losers. Put it this way, "Double
Bobble 2000" and "SkyFall" have more playability than the vast
majority of PC games put together!
Richard: Maggie is currently going from strength to strength in
the Atari scene, with the "Maggie" Team's recent visit to
Symposium, people were able to meet with us for the very first
time. I think that as long as we try to keep articles informative
and entertaining, "Maggie" will have a long life ahead of her
yet. We'll continue to grab special interviews with movie stars
and other people, keep your eyes peeled!
Richard: I've got nothing but praise for the Reservoir Gods,
they are a team who are supporting the Falcon through thick and
thin, with their excellently playable games and other very useful
utilities. They got very high scoring reviews in "Atari World"
magazine, which was one of the first Atari magazines in the UK to
totally embrace the Atari PD scene and promote the coding
projects that came out of it.
Richard: ST NEWS has been a great diskzine over the years, with
very informative and entertaining articles. The diskmag, I felt,
was always a bit more 'upper class' in terms of having contacts
in the Atari scene who were able to provide news and articles for
each issue. I enjoyed every single issue that I ever had the
pleasure of reading, I guess the articles I enjoyed most of all
were the ones that Stefan Posthuma wrote about his trips to the
US with Tim Moss, his trip to Guatemala and other places.
However, everyone who contributed to ST NEWS over the years
certainly produced a fantastic product that, compared to the
rubbish that is printed in the newspapers and magazines here in
the UK is always worth a good read. It's a great shame that PC's
don't run ST stuff straight off...as it would be a real break for
them rather than them reading about all the latest 'multi-tedia'
add-ons in PC magazines.
Which question have I forgotten to ask, and what is the reply?
Well, cheers, Mr Spowart, for your time. One more person whose
life is now no longer the dark oblivial darkness that it
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.