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 liked one particular, your good friend, but it also kicks you in the belly although you are on the floor by robbing you of the option to find solace and toughness in togetherness.

When John Johnson-Cook died in a medical center mattress in Norwich two months in the past, 84 miles from his dwelling in Bishop’s Stortford, having been taken by ambulance into Harlow’s Princess Alexandra Clinic a fortnight earlier, he was all by itself.

Back again dwelling in Thorley Park, so too was his wife Pam, the lady he’d liked for extra than 50 percent a century. The smallest of consolations was that she was authorized to say goodbye to him at the medical center.

John Johnson-Cook with wife Pam on getaway in Majorca in July 2019 to celebrate his 70th birthday and daughter Claire’s fortieth (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 good friends in Stortford’s Drinking water Lane Theatre Company, to whom he was identified only as JJC. I am one particular of them.

This understatedly mild, heat and form man was the patriarch of the Drinking water Lane ‘family’. He epitomised each individual individual in each individual efficiency team – theatre corporation, songs band, dance troupe – who selflessly permits other individuals to fulfil their desires and dreams. JJC shunned the highlight in favour of setting the phase for other individuals to be in it.

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He put in 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 good friends, acquaintances and even strangers could have their spring or summer time fun at Rhodes or the Monastery Gardens.

JJC died since a thing hideous was inside of him. For the initially time ever in his daily life. All that humanity, creative imagination and gleefully mischievous wit – for which I shall especially keep in mind him – snuffed out by a thing named so cold and medical as Covid-19.

On the afternoon of Saturday April eighteen, when Granville Hurry, chairman of the team, phoned me to notify me of JJC’s demise, my intuition was to be with my fellow Drinking water Lane ‘family’ users.

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, offering hug. Mutual aid, convenience and love by remaining 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 extended-time good friend and successor as Drinking water Lane Theatre Company chairman, Granville Hurry, seated (34228956)

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

Soon following, the realisation dawned that, since of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, there would not even be the option to acquire at his funeral.

For Pam, Becky and Claire, not only would they be deprived of that comforting, enveloping, facial area-to-facial area outpouring of love and warmth from the scores of mourners, but they have been anticipated not to hug hi when they arrived, not to contact or maintain in convenience all through or following the services, not to hug goodbye before they returned to their specific aloneness. It is really all too unbearably unfortunate.

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 (May possibly 1), Becky posted this on Facebook for the gain of all individuals who so desired to be with them…

“I know you will would like you could be with us these days and you will be in spirit. Dad liked almost nothing extra than a cuppa and a biscuit, so round about twelve set the kettle on and get your favourite biccie. Raise a cuppa to Dad and sign up for us in declaring goodbye. Like to all – this is a tough 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 photographs of our mugs and cups on Facebook.

Matthew in Moscow, Chris in Portugal and all the other individuals listed here in Blighty Stortford did that quintessentially British detail: we produced a cup of tea to make ourselves come to feel better.

Like so a lot of other individuals in this new way of daily life, the Drinking water Lane relatives have appreciated virtual quizzes, virtual pub periods and even virtual performances of monologues and duets – but this was the closest we’ve felt in the nigh-on 6 months of lockdown.

I can’t converse for the other individuals, but there have been tears in my tea. And it tasted all the sweeter.

Pam and Becky and Claire can attract crumbs of convenience from the photographs of tea in numerous mugs and cups, some of them adorned with a mouse, in acknowledgement of JJC’s practice of drawing one particular of the creatures someplace on the scenery of Drinking water Lane productions.

As for the rest of us, we carry on on the lookout forward to the day when we can at very last acquire and drink and keep in mind and chortle and cry and, higher than all, hug – our ‘family’ united in love and admiration for JJC.

Until eventually then, the present need to go on. You are a hard act to comply with, JCC. RIP.