Wednesday, 4 January 2012

In memory of Jim Johnson 1956-2011

My old friend Jim died before Christmas. He took his own life by drowning in a river near his home. I had known him for over 36 years since University. I have been through the feelings that anyone who has experienced a suicide of someone who was close goes through. The feeling of guilt, the belief that I could have done more and above all the most incessant question of all- why. It seems that he spent no more than one day in his new house, he had lunch with a group of old work colleagues on the day of his death. It seems that it was a completely spontaneous act. He left his mobile phone and house keys beside the bed and no note before he set out on that solitary walk to the river. I try to make rational sense of this illogical act and fail.

The funeral was a green one and officiated by a humanist. The chapel was full and person after person came forward to lavish praise on Jim’s character. His integrity, his commitment, his intelligence and his loyalty were all alluded to. Someone spoke that Jim with his courtesy, his way with words and his unvarying consideration for others was a throw back to a gentler age. " He never spoke ill of anyone". There was a guffaw of laughter when someone mentioned Jim’s definition of the word " tangentially" was quoted as " sunbathing without trunks. He probably did not miss a beat when he came up with that one.

We lined up at the graveside in woodland to throw berries and greenery on his coffin before the earth claimed him. There were many tears shed

Afterwards someone mentioned that the local authority that got rid of him in 2006 because he did not suit their 21st century image. Jim with his precise grammar, with his gentlemanly manners and his constant principles was declared redundant borne away by a world of superficiality, of artifice, of gobbledegook and targets. I mourn for Jim and the realm that we have become.

 He will be missed.