12 PAGES OF CHRISTMAS
Hope you are all keeping well? So I thought I would do something a little different this month for the newsletter, tying in with Christmas I thought I would do the 12 Days of Christmas
with a twist and have the 12 pages of Christmas.
I will include some excerpts from my book and as the picture above states Memories along the way. To start the 12 days/pages rolling I will start of at the beginning and how I came to write the book in the first place.
Someone approached me a few years ago and suggest that I should write my autobiography to leave behind for posterity and other reasons.
Always being good at talking about myself I thought it a great idea.
But on second thoughts and after talking it over with Odette I began to think, maybe it’s not such a good idea after all.
I felt that after fifty years in show business and in the public eye for all of that time, with many articles and interviews, behind me, people knew about everything there is to know about me anyway.
The other reason being that even though I live a life under the spotlight, I am at heart a very private character and I would not be too happy about overturning a few stones and releasing a few skeletons from the family cupboards.
So between the two of us we decided to leave those stones unturned.
Then on Christmas Eve 2010 Odette was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and the world fell down around us.
The prognoses was three years, maybe. She didn’t make the three years, passing away on the 12th of November 2013.
During that dreadful time amid operations and chemo treatment she remained stoic about it all saying how ever bad the chemo is at least it was keeping her alive.
During this time I stopped working, I cancelled all my tours, recordings and travels abroad and dedicated myself to looking after her as best I could.
This I did and in caring for her it gave a purpose to my life that I never had before.
It’s amazing what strengths you find as a human being in times of grief and how quickly one can adjust to all kinds of adversity.
I remember days wandering around the house trying to find something to fill the moments, going from kitchen to bedroom with a pot of tea in one hand and toasted pitta bread on a plate in the other.
On one of her better days she called me into the room and said “ John, I know you are doing your best, but for the love of God will you find something use full to do with yourself, you are driving me mad wandering in and out of the room. I can only drink so much tea and eat so much pitta bread.
"Find something to do”
I thought about this for a few days.
Then suddenly the light bulb clicked on over my head
I went into the bedroom and said to her “The autobiography”
“Write it” she said.
I still wasn’t sure I liked the idea but I sat in my study and started to think.
I was looking through some books trying to get an idea as to how I should approach it, when I found in my collection an old song book that I hadn’t seen in years.
And as I flitted through it, I thought, “Song book, that’s what I’ll write”
Now the question was, what songs do I put in it?
Up to that time I had written about a hundred songs but had never catalogued them.
Dode came to the rescue and offered to type out each of my originals.
Over a period of time between chemo treatments and hospital visits she typed out more than a hundred songs, all word perfect.
But what started out as a small venture soon became a very big and somewhat daunting one.
As the project began to take shape I began to realise that it was turning into more than just a song book.
I found I was including not just my own compositions, but also songs that I have sung and recorded down through the years.
I researched each of the old songs and along with my own began to write introductions about the history and meaning of each one or most of them anyway.
I then started to include poems and short stories about my early life and my early days in show business.
There are also a few illustrations of mine and my son Jonathan provided most of the photographs.
It has been a long journey and a fruit full one and its writing has given me great pleasure.
Sadly Dode didn’t live to see it come to fruition but I hope she’d be pleased with the knowledge that I dedicate the book to her.
Maybe through these songs and stories you may discover something about the person who lives behind these tales.
For that is all what I am, a story teller.