For many years this has been a special day in the F-S/Hall/Cragg world.
Today would have been John’s 81st birthday. John loved birthdays, as many of you will remember: presents and happy gatherings meant such a lot to him and he was quite charmingly shameless enjoying his own quite as much as anyone else’s.
There’s not much to be cheerful about these days. Covid-19 strengthens its grip – Tier 2 for Derbyshire Dales as from last Saturday night, lockdown from today Thursday 5th November, winter approaches and the days ae getting shorter… and as far as John’s immediate family and friends are concerned, the gap he leaves seems to get wider.
I’m afraid I have some very sad news. After several months of acute pain and ill-health met with great fortitude and dignity, John slipped away very peacefully on Saturday 19th September 2020.
He had been suffering from Discitis, an infection of a disc in his spine. He received wonderful care from everyone on Elmton Ward, Chesterfield Royal Hospital, and we kept thinking and hoping he might be turning the corner, but sadly it was not to be.
I am writing this in great haste with no time to tell you more. I will later.
There’ll be a Cremation Service at Chesterfield Crematorium at 10am on Thursday 8th October 2020 to which we can invite in theory a maximum of 30 people. It means, practically, more like about 10 or 12 and no legal opportunity afterwards to celebrate together the passing of a great friend and family man.
With all the increasing Covid restrictions it is proving very difficult to arange the kind of send off we would’ve wished for John, a man who had had a very full and interesting life with very many friends, colleagues and ex-pupils.
No singing, canned music…The only compensation is that the service will be streamed so that anyone unable (or perforce uninvited) to attend will be able to watch the service. We don’t yet have the link but when we have, if anyone would like me to send it to them please send an email to email@example.com
There will be a notice tomorrow, Saturday 26th September, in both the Times and the Telegraph, thanks to the Old Bramcotian Society who have submitted it on our behalf.
And I will write more later when I have more time. Meanwhile, here is goodbye from him…
Almost exactly four years ago, April 15th 2016, we moved into Crown Cottage, here in Winster. It was the 14th house we had viewed, and the first that we had both been completely smitten with, and possibly in many ways the least suitable for a couple approaching old age. Heart ruled the head, and how happy we are that it did…
We are certainly living in ‘interesting’ times, with a queue of worries and question marks facing us: Brexit, global warming, Australian bushfires and then floods, and now, overshadowing, everything Coronavirus…
Two decades of the 21st century have already passed.
After all the jollity and happiness for lucky souls over Christmas, as we take down the tree, the cards and the decorations I think we must all be entering 2020 possibly with some excitement and rather more anxiety about what lies ahead for us all, both politically and generally, and in Australia.
When we left India in April 1968 we imagined we were leaving for good. John’s three-year contract with the Cathedral and John Connon School in Bombay had come to an end and he had been offered another teaching job in the UK. We had thoroughly enjoyed our time in India, but were now, complete with baby (Ruth) embarking on the next stage of our lives.