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John Baldwin, or Jacob Baldwin as he preferred to be known, being the son of Jewish parents who fled Russia for Shanghai when WW2 broke.

He’s long dead now and here I was told far too late to know of his funeral. Not that it mattered as between the two of us we battered down many barriers. Death too was a matter of much discussion back then. Everything gone to black he thought. Or not. I thought.


Ever used that word to describe someone unworthy of respect?


That too?

Me too, until I met Jacob.

We would sit in the sunshine those days we worked together at the Spastic Centre as he taught me to play chess, impossibly so as his helpless and involuntarily smile betrayed every move he had in mind.


He was never able to walk. Not for a day in his life. He had just the one hand under control. All his life. Everything else shook and dissembled. His his feet were bolted into the footwells of his wheelchair. Eating at table with Jacob was an exercise in dodging sprayed food, sitting with him in a concert listening to the Mahavishnu Orchestra at the Hordern Pavilion was …..


He shook the entire row with his uncontrolled shuddering as John McLaughlin sprayed us with his machine gun riffs and Billy Cobham jungled up every drum on his stand.

So, it happens like this, you remember an old friend long gone and decide to write him up, the old lad, not that he is able to read it but in the hope somebody else does, knowing why.

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