Moorcock remembers J. G. Ballard

Michael Moorcock remembers British author J. G. Ballard, who passed away in 2009
J.G. Ballard photographed at his home in Shepperton. Photograph: Martyn Goddard/Rex Features
My friendship with JG Ballard lasted about 50 years and was not always the easiest to maintain. In the early days at least we were naturally confrontational. Happily, we were united in what we wished to confront, if not always agreed on how best to go about it. We were both in those days "family men" and we shared a love for our children. Jimmy's love was almost mystical. When fathers were discouraged from attending births, he had insisted at being present at his children's. We had some fine times – Jimmy and Mary, Hilary and me – arguing into the night until it was time to go home. They'd climb into his battered but romantic Armstrong-Siddeley and head for Shepperton, or Jimmy would drive us back to Notting Hill.

Mary died in Spain. His eyes filling with tears, Jimmy had to make frequent stops as he drove his children home to England. Afterwards, he focused almost obsessively on them. His relationships with women became horrible. There were fights, bad acid trips, wild drives through the London night, arguments between us which stemmed, Hilary and I believed, from his largely unadmitted grief, his wish to protect his children at all costs. His stoicism blocked almost all attempts to reach out to him. Finally, I introduced him to Claire Walsh, who seemed better able to help him emotionally, though he treated her pretty badly on occasions.

He complained, in turn, that I bullied him, "making my eyes bleed", forcing him to write the first of a group of stories which had their origins in dummy pages he hung all around his living room wall for years. Bits of them had appeared as titles or subtitles for stories and eventually began to see print in New Worlds with "The Atrocity Exhibition" in April 1966, and with later stories appearing in Science Fantasy and Ambit. "The Assassination of JFK Considered as a Downhill Motor Race" was the last story we published in 1967 before NW finally appeared with the format and content we'd always dreamed of. These, with Empire of the Sun, which dealt with some of his other ghosts, comprised, I think, his best work. They also served in the main to earth his most violent energies and help him again become a kind-hearted and generous friend.