I read in yesterday’s (1/5) Southend Echo Jim Worsdale’s moving tribute “Comic, artist and great friend” to the comedian, Joe Goodman, who recently passed away. It appears that he lived a full life, making the most of those gifts despite being abandoned at birth, and while not a household name today was no mean achiever in his chosen profession, rubbing shoulders with the great and famous and having demonstrated significant talent and drive as well as generously supporting a number of good causes. I would not have known anything about this remarkable man except for the one chance brief meeting I had with him around a year ago.
It happened that on that day I was doing something that I had done several times previously, which was to take overseas visitors onto a sight-seeing tour of London. We were on our way to the railway station and I was trying to park my car in one of the side streets close by when a man pulled up nearby, who lived in the house outside of which I was trying to park. I enquired if he was ok with my parking and the reply was yes, which was followed up by an invitation to come inside for a cup of tea and a tour of his garden. Given we were in no hurry, and I was keen to give my guests, an older Indian couple, a good experience of English life, we accepted.
That man was Joe Goodman! I suspected from the outset that political correctness was not his particular forte, when he proceeded to address my guests as Mr. and Mrs. Gandhi, but it turned out that hospitality was. My friends, being the broad minded people they were, took it all in their stride and saw the humour, and we all began to warm to Joe. Joe and my friends clearly clicked.
I am not sure how best to describe Joe’s garden, which I can still picture in my mind’s eye. It was beautiful and secluded. It was clearly Joe’s pride and joy, having in it all sorts of artifacts and memorabilia relating to his many wider interests. In the garden was a summer house where he would often spend time, including taking naps. I have to admit being a little envious of him being able to concoct such a marvelous hideaway. He showed us a picture of a friend’s yacht which he sometimes stayed on, a picture he had painted, and which was rather good. We continued to chat and exchange banter and pleasantries until all too soon we had to leave.
I believe my visitors enjoyed their trip to London that day. I did what I often did with my guests: took them for a walk from Big Ben to Trafalgar Square, via Buckingham Palace, seeing as many sites of historical interest as possible, as well as taking in pleasant park space. I was delighted when I invited my friends to choose which further sites to visit that they chose one of my favorites, the National Gallery, partly because Mrs. Gandhi shared my love for great art (I can’t help thinking our new artist friend would have approved) and partly because there was less need to walk or travel far.
But the highlight of the day was surely our chance brief encounter with Joe Goodman. I am sure my friends will join me in expressing our sadness at Joe’s passing and in passing on our condolences to those close to him. Thank you Joe for this memory and rest in peace!