I said goodbye to a friend today, a man I knew as Brummie Jon.
I met Jon for the first time in 2001 when he came to his first AA meeting at Whipps Cross Hospital. I was secretary of the meeting, and I remember him walking in the door, wearing one of his coats of many colours (just about every garment he owned was in some combination of clashing colours), and his customary woolly hat, looking scared, bewildered, defeated and defiant.
Some people come to their first meeting and you never see them again, but not Jon. He immersed himself into AA and sobriety, and we soon became friends. Jon found many friends in AA. He was that sort of a man, people were drawn to him. He would tell the most wonderful anecdotes of his drinking days in his broad Brummie accent, and there was no doubt that he was definitely 'one of us' - the lucky ones who were given a second chance at life.
Jon was a remarkable man - a man of science and a man of arts. He was a clinical psychologist by profession and worked for many years in the health service, and as a lecturer.
But he was also - and I think this is how he would have defined himself - first and foremost a musician. A wonderful, wonderful musician. A self-taught jazz pianist of uncommon talent. He loved music, and his love of it infected everyone around him when he played, or when he talked about it.
In January of this year Jon was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He knew there would only be one outcome, and he refused to spend his last few months having chemo. Instead he catalogued his music, compiled an album
, wrote his autobiography and spent time with the people he loved - his wife and three children, his mother and brothers.
Jon was a lovely man - warm, funny, a little bit bonkers (well, most musicians are), challenging, inquisitive, unique.
I'll miss him very, very much.