September 18, 2021

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Tea and biscuit more than just crumbs of comfort on the day JJC was laid to rest

Covid-19 is doubly vicious. Not only does it get rid of your loved one, your pal, but it also kicks you in the belly although you’re on the ground by robbing you of the possibility to uncover solace and strength in togetherness.

When John Johnson-Cook died in a healthcare facility bed in Norwich two months in the past, eighty four miles from his dwelling in Bishop’s Stortford, acquiring been taken by ambulance into Harlow’s Princess Alexandra Medical center a fortnight before, he was all by yourself.

Again dwelling in Thorley Park, so much too was his wife Pam, the lady he’d loved for much more than half a century. The smallest of consolations was that she was permitted to say goodbye to him at the healthcare facility.

John Johnson-Cook with wife Pam on holiday in Majorca in July 2019 to celebrate his 70th birthday and daughter Claire’s 40th (34229527)

She and their grown-up daughters, Becky in Berkshire and Claire in West Yorkshire, and their people have been still left devastated.

As have been his friends in Stortford’s Water Lane Theatre Firm, to whom he was known just as JJC. I am one of them.

This understatedly mild, warm and form male was the patriarch of the Water Lane ‘family’. He epitomised just about every particular person in just about every general performance group – theatre corporation, music band, dance troupe – who selflessly allows some others to fulfil their desires and needs. JJC shunned the spotlight in favour of location the stage for some others to be in it.

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He expended his autumns and winters constructing award-successful sets for the Water Lane productions (did you see his paddle steamer for Murder on the Nile at Rhodes last yr?) so that his friends, acquaintances and even strangers could have their spring or summer time enjoyment at Rhodes or the Monastery Gardens.

JJC died since anything hideous was inside of him. For the to start with time ever in his daily life. All that humanity, creative imagination and gleefully mischievous wit – for which I shall primarily keep in mind him – snuffed out by anything named so chilly and scientific as Covid-19.

On the afternoon of Saturday April eighteen, when Granville Hurry, chairman of the group, phoned me to inform me of JJC’s dying, my intuition was to be with my fellow Water Lane ‘family’ customers.

Ordinarily we would have piled down the Star and drunk and recalled reminiscences 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 warm, providing hug. Mutual assist, comfort and ease and appreciate by becoming alongside one another physically.

John Johnson-Cook with a caricature drawn by his long-time friend and successor as Water Lane Theatre Company chairman, Granville Rush, seated (34228956)
John Johnson-Cook with a caricature drawn by his very long-time pal and successor as Water Lane Theatre Firm chairman, Granville Hurry, seated (34228956)

But not with this cruel virus. On that Saturday, there have been telephone phone calls and messages, but, largely, we sought digital solace on Facebook.

Before long following, the realisation dawned that, since of coronavirus lockdown constraints, there would not even be the possibility to acquire at his funeral.

For Pam, Becky and Claire, not only would they be deprived of that comforting, enveloping, encounter-to-encounter outpouring of appreciate and heat from the scores of mourners, but they have been predicted not to hug hi there when they arrived, not to contact or maintain in comfort and ease through or following the support, not to hug goodbye right before they returned to their particular person aloneness. It is all much too unbearably sad.

John with daughters Becky, left, and Claire, and wife Pam (34229524)
John with daughters Becky, still left, and Claire, and wife Pam (34229524)

Before she set off from dwelling in Berkshire for the funeral at Parndon Wood in Harlow on Friday (Might one), Becky posted this on Facebook for the benefit of all those people who so needed to be with them…

“I know you will desire you could be with us now and you will be in spirit. Dad loved nothing much more than a cuppa and a biscuit, so spherical about 12 place the kettle on and get your favourite biccie. Raise a cuppa to Dad and be part of us in declaring goodbye. Really like to all – this is a complicated day.”

And so, at midday, a dozen or so Water Laners drank tea and ate biscuits or cake in tribute to our patriarch. Extra than that, we posted photographs of our mugs and cups on Facebook.

Matthew in Moscow, Chris in Portugal and all the some others in this article in Blighty Stortford did that quintessentially British issue: we designed a cup of tea to make ourselves truly feel superior.

Like so many some others in this new way of daily life, the Water Lane relatives have loved digital quizzes, digital pub classes and even digital performances of monologues and duets – but this was the closest we have felt in the nigh-on six months of lockdown.

I cannot speak for the some others, but there have been tears in my tea. And it tasted all the sweeter.

Pam and Becky and Claire can attract crumbs of comfort and ease from the photographs of tea in a variety of mugs and cups, some of them adorned with a mouse, in acknowledgement of JJC’s routine of drawing one of the creatures somewhere on the landscapes of Water Lane productions.

As for the rest of us, we have on seeking ahead to the day when we can at last acquire and drink and keep in mind and snicker and cry and, earlier mentioned all, hug – our ‘family’ united in appreciate and admiration for JJC.

Till then, the show ought to go on. You are a tough act to follow, JCC. RIP.