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Two More Losses to Acknowledge, in These Dire Times

Over the past few days, it’s come to my attention that two more people, not that well known to me, but still significant, have passed on due to ‘complications’ involving Covid-19. One was personal, the other was very much involved in my musical spheres of influence.

Henry Grimes (born in 1935) passed away four days ago, on the 15th of this month (April 2020). He deserves a blog of his own, and Richard Williams has already inevitably provided us with one. Grimes was known to me mainly as a participant in the mid-sixties Free Jazz ‘revolution’, playing on several of the classic recordings of that times, providing double bass duties on sessions led by, for example,the likes of Don Cherry, Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders and Cecil Taylor. His disappearance and re-emergence, some forty years later, has become the stuff of jazz legend, a Sleeping Beauty story that still remains somewhat opaque. Grimes was always a background figure in my listening, but his name has always remained entrenched in my mind, due to his considerable contribution to Free Jazz in its formative years in New York. His ‘resurrection’ in 2002, and over subsequent years is truly an inspirational story of triumph-over-adversity. It’s a shame that some wiseacres are calling it a ‘second death’. Have some respect, guys.

The other, much more personal, loss is that of a mental health colleague, who I had the good fortune to work with during my time working in CNWL Mental Health Trust from 2001-2012. This was a totally professional nurse, with a grand sense of humour and an ever-present cheerfulness, and who was a pleasure to know and to work with. Now dead, at 51 years of age, she leaves a bereaved husband and four children. Her  death is, for me, the nearest I have yet come to experiencing the devastating loss that so many families are experiencing at the present moment. I daily pray that my family will escape the virus, but it seems that there are ever present reminders that even the loss of ‘distant’ figures in our personal lives still have the power to touch us.

The country seems to be ‘getting down to staying down’, despite our completely unimpressive ‘government of all the losers’, so good luck and best wishes to all.

I truly hope a ‘reckoning’ will in time come to this government, one that has, in various iterations, decimated the NHS and our care sector over the past 10 years. We can but hope.

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