Covid-19 is doubly vicious. Not only does it kill your cherished just one, your good friend, but it also kicks you in the abdomen even though you might be on the ground by robbing you of the prospect to come across solace and power in togetherness.
When John Johnson-Prepare dinner died in a healthcare facility mattress in Norwich two weeks ago, 84 miles from his home in Bishop’s Stortford, owning been taken by ambulance into Harlow’s Princess Alexandra Clinic a fortnight previously, he was all by yourself.
Again home in Thorley Park, so much too was his spouse Pam, the woman he’d cherished for additional than fifty percent a century. The smallest of consolations was that she was permitted to say goodbye to him at the healthcare facility.
She and their grown-up daughters, Becky in Berkshire and Claire in West Yorkshire, and their households had been still left devastated.
As had been his friends in Stortford’s Drinking water Lane Theatre Business, to whom he was recognised simply just as JJC. I am just one of them.
This understatedly gentle, heat and variety guy was the patriarch of the Drinking water Lane ‘family’. He epitomised every single individual in every single overall performance team – theatre firm, songs band, dance troupe – who selflessly permits other individuals to fulfil their wants and needs. JJC shunned the highlight in favour of setting the stage for other individuals to be in it.
He used his autumns and winters setting up award-successful sets for the Drinking water Lane productions (did you see his paddle steamer for Murder on the Nile at Rhodes very last yr?) so that his friends, acquaintances and even strangers could have their spring or summertime enjoyment at Rhodes or the Monastery Gardens.
JJC died mainly because anything hideous was within him. For the very first time at any time in his life. All that humanity, creativity and gleefully mischievous wit – for which I shall specifically bear in mind him – snuffed out by anything named so cold and medical as Covid-19.
On the afternoon of Saturday April 18, when Granville Rush, chairman of the team, phoned me to inform me of JJC’s loss of life, my instinct was to be with my fellow Drinking water Lane ‘family’ customers.
Ordinarily we would have piled down the Star and drunk and recalled memories and laughed and cried. And all the time, as the tears flowed, there would have been a consoling hand on the shoulder or forearm, or a heat, supplying hug. Mutual guidance, comfort and enjoy through currently being alongside one another bodily.
But not with this cruel virus. On that Saturday, there had been cell phone calls and messages, but, largely, we sought digital solace on Fb.
Quickly following, the realisation dawned that, mainly because of coronavirus lockdown limits, there would not even be the prospect to collect at his funeral.
For Pam, Becky and Claire, not only would they be deprived of that comforting, enveloping, deal with-to-deal with outpouring of enjoy and heat from the scores of mourners, but they had been predicted not to hug howdy when they arrived, not to touch or maintain in comfort in the course of or following the services, not to hug goodbye in advance of they returned to their individual aloneness. It’s all much too unbearably unhappy.
Ahead of she established off from home in Berkshire for the funeral at Parndon Wooden in Harlow on Friday (May perhaps one), Becky posted this on Fb for the gain of all those who so wanted to be with them…
“I know you will want you could be with us right now and you will be in spirit. Father cherished very little additional than a cuppa and a biscuit, so spherical about 12 put the kettle on and grab your favourite biccie. Increase a cuppa to Father and be part of us in declaring goodbye. Enjoy to all – this is a difficult working day.”
And so, at midday, a dozen or so Drinking water Laners drank tea and ate biscuits or cake in tribute to our patriarch. Much more than that, we posted shots of our mugs and cups on Fb.
Matthew in Moscow, Chris in Portugal and all the other individuals below in Blighty Stortford did that quintessentially British matter: we produced a cup of tea to make ourselves come to feel much better.
Like so a lot of other individuals in this new way of life, the Drinking water Lane spouse and children have enjoyed digital quizzes, digital pub sessions and even digital performances of monologues and duets – but this was the closest we have felt in the nigh-on 6 weeks of lockdown.
I can not converse for the other individuals, but there had been tears in my tea. And it tasted all the sweeter.
Pam and Becky and Claire can draw crumbs of comfort from the shots of tea in a variety of mugs and cups, some of them adorned with a mouse, in acknowledgement of JJC’s practice of drawing just one of the creatures somewhere on the scenery of Drinking water Lane productions.
As for the rest of us, we carry on seeking forward to the working day when we can at very last collect and drink and bear in mind and chortle and cry and, over all, hug – our ‘family’ united in enjoy and admiration for JJC.
Until finally then, the demonstrate have to go on. You are a challenging act to comply with, JCC. RIP.