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26th April 1930 - 20th February 2017
On Tuesday, 14th March, 2017 at 12 noon a service of thanksgiving for the life of Jean Longland was held at St Bride's Church, Fleet Street.
The Revd Canon Dr Alison Joyce delivered the bidding:-
Loving God, we remember before you this day with thanksgiving, Jean, whom we love but see no longer. A loving and much-loved wife and lifelong companion to Peter, supporting him in his life and work across the globe; a devoted daughter, sister, aunt and godmother, and a much valued friend; a dedicated member of our Church family here at St Bride's.
We give thanks for a woman of immense intelligence, originality, and independence of mind. A woman of principle. A highly skilled and gifted teacher. An able seamstress. A woman who was wonderful company; a woman of great elegance and beauty. We give thanks for her great love of literature, of the theatre and of music; her love of the countryside; her love of travel; her love of animals. We remember a woman of great character, and great courage, who, over many years faced the challenge of her physical pain and decreasing mobility with great steadfastness. We remember, too, a woman of great kindness.
We pray for all who feel the pain of Jean's passing - remembering especially at this time Peter, and all who share his sense of loss at Jean's passing. God of compassion, surround us all with your love at this difficult time, and may we know your comfort and your peace.
Read by the Rector on behalf of Peter
Jean Longland: Tribute
The following tribute to Jean was written by her husband, Peter, and it is my privilege to read it on his behalf.
Jean’s earliest years must have shaped much of her character. Her father had contracted TB and was advised not to return to Manchester. His career interrupted, he found work in the Cheshire countryside and, as a result, Jean and her brother (who was just a few months older) grew up on the edge of Delamere forest where they roamed under the safe custody of a golden retriever called Jimmy. Her resilience and determination - and her love of countryside and animals - stemmed, I believe, from that time. However, it did not lead to her wanting a country life.
Her father encouraged her to read widely. He also persuaded her that a four-mile walk or cycle ride to catch the train to the grammar school every day was worthwhile come rain or shine and, predictably, she became head girl.
Jean was an extremely attractive young woman and, having trained at the Lucy Clayton College, she toyed with the idea of a modelling career. However, instead she chose to take an English degree at Hull University (well-known at the time for its librarian, Philip Larkin) and teacher training thereafter.
Jean loved teaching and she returned to teach at Hyde Grammar School. It did not last long though for she looked at teaching jobs overseas: in South Africa (which she did not pursue because of the politics), Turkey (which she did not pursue because of religious differences) and she eventually settled on a Girls’ High School in Kingston Jamaica. I gather it was a wonderful life and among many activities she became a founder member of the Theatre of the West Indies, writing for the students two prizewinning plays based on Jamaican life.
It was there that we first met. She was at the end of her contract and shortly to leave to return to England. We did not exchange addresses and it is only by luck that we ever met again. Some months later I flew back to London from South America and chose to go to a new play at the Royal Court called “Look Back in Anger” (by John Osborne). I headed for the bar at the interval: Jean spotted me and followed me out. We married two years later after I finished my contract.
Jean loved teaching but she also loved travel too. She nobly followed me when I was posted abroad, interrupting her career, but teaching wherever she could. Being adaptable and never liking to be idle she would turn her hand to other activities.
In India, for instance, with a charity charmingly entitled the ‘Women’s Friendly Society’, she taught widowed or divorced Indian women how to develop their sewing skills and earn a living - being no mean a seamstress herself. On top of that she struggled with golf and found time to produce and tour a French farce entitled, “Boeing Boeing” written by the playwright Marc Camoletti,, then also a big hit back in London.
Returning to England she changed tack again becoming the Staff Officer at Heal’s Department Store only for it to end two or three years later as I became a director of BAT then in a phase of acquiring retail businesses as part of its diversification strategy. Undeterred she took an English as a Foreign Language course and began improving the English of foreign business, military and scientific people. To fill up her days she became chairman of the Friends of Whittington Hospital.
It was about then that she showed very early signs of the ailment that many years later would consign her to a wheelchair. At first it was little more than a treatable irritation but eventually it started to limit what she could undertake. With her energy and drive this was an increasing frustration, which she bore with calm good humour - at least for most of the time. Happily, it was possible until recently to travel abroad and she could still enjoy the theatre, exhibitions and music but her general health was deteriorating.
After nearly 57 years Jean was still the loving wife and companion that she was when we married on a very wet March day. That is not to say that that there were no stresses especially those brought about by conflicting careers. Did we argue? Of course we did - with her making her case with all the energy appropriate to a grand-daughter of a suffragette. She knew how to make up afterwards too.
Intelligent, independent, determined, adaptable, warm, caring and loving she was. But, for all that, there are no words that can truly express the loss of someone so close for so long.
Would that one could re-live some or all of it.
We had a wonderful life together.
May God rest her soul.
Kurt Mather read Psalm 139: 1-12
139 O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.
5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
Lindsay Cooke read Extracts from The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson
I FLED Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’
Now of that long pursuit
Comes on at hand the bruit;
That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
‘And is thy earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!
Strange, piteous, futile thing!
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught’ (He said),
‘And human love needs human meriting:
How hast thou merited—
Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’
Halts by me that footfall:
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.’
Peter Silver read Reflections from family and friends by Francis Thompson
Anne Gubert – a retired journalist, and Jean’s long term friend writes this:
Jean was a devoted daughter, sister and aunt; a devoted godmother; a devoted churchgoer; and she was a devoted friend.
But, most of all, Jean was Peter's devoted, greatly beloved wife. The home they shared together, overlooking the Thames, was full of laughter and love.
After her sudden illness, which devastated us all, Jean spent her last hours in a sunshine-filled hospital room. And that was appropriate because hers was a wonderful life spent in the sun.
Jamaica, India and France were places she loved, and Jean had a sunny, vibrant personality - she could usually see the humour in situations.
Jean loved music and literature. She had a brilliant way with words; and she had passionate well-argued opinions on many things, which she liked sharing over lunch and dinner. Discussions could continue all evening and sometimes even all night, as guests migrated to the balcony of Jean and Peter's River Court flat. Sunrise was the cue for neighbours to go home!
Jean was also a very kind person. She always remembered birthdays and sent beautiful cards. One lucky young man received a personally selected painting on his birthday until he was 18. Appropriately, they usually featured sunlit scenes.
Jean brought love and kindness into so many lives. And those of us who were lucky enough to be part of her life will never forget her.
Veronica Dare-Bryan, a former banker, now living in France, and a close friend for more than fifty years adds her own fond reflections, saying this:
Jean, was for me, an approachable intellectual, the person with whom to explore and to be enlightened by, her extensive and often amusing take on all aspects of English language and literature.
Her interests were so wide that inevitably the conversation touched on cultures far beyond these shores, particularly India, which she brought to life for me. Her observations and anecdotes from living in various countries were recounted with great love and respect whether they were colleagues, friends or those who helped in the house.
This approachability sprung from her delight in welcoming people of all ages and backgrounds. Her interest never flagged; she was always up-to-date with the progress of young friends and family relations. The extended Dare-Bryan family and their friends have all benefited from Jean's generous welcome.
When Peter and Jean nobly agreed to be guardians of Virginia and Paget, Jean embraced them both in a special relationship, for which she will be remembered always and extended that love and concern to the next generation.
We will all miss her so much.
Reta Mather, Jean’s Sister-in-law, remembers Jean with great fondness, and pays her own tribute to her, saying this:
Jean was an amazing sister-in-law – kind, loyal, caring and funny.
I married her brother, Jack, in 1982. We had great times with Jean and Peter – theatre trips, lively meals, outings to gardens and museums to name but a few.
When Jean and Jack were together they reminisced about their ideal childhood. They were “turned out” into Delamere forest with the dog and this was where their love of nature began.
Sometimes their cousin joined them and they played cowboys and Indians but, with a mind of her own, Jean would not lie down and play dead.
Jean had a gift for telling a tale with, at times, facial expressions which have you laughing out loud.
Karl and Mika Mather – Jean’s nephew and his Japanese wife, now living in Australia, have sent the following message to Peter, containing their own warm tribute:
Both Mika and I are terribly sad to hear your news. Although the tyranny of distance meant that we rarely saw her in recent years, Jean was always in our lives.
Being in London not so long ago and spending time with the two of you is now even more precious. Mika particularly enjoyed speaking with Jean and getting to appreciate her kindness and sharp wit a little better.
The strength of your marriage and closeness of your partnership will continue to inspire everyone and remind us all that life is richer when it’s shared.
Writing something heartfelt is never easy at a time like this, so Mika suggested that perhaps this haiku written in 1819 by Kobayashi Issa might be appropriate:
And all our world is dew... So dear,
So fresh, so fleeting.
Jean, fondly remembered by so many of us - may you rest in peace.
The choir & organist of St Bride's performed the following anthems and songs:-
The Funeral Sentences - Croft
Beauty for Ashes - Chilcott
And I saw a new heaven - Bainton
Beim Schlafengehen - Strauss
Soave sia il vento - Mozart
Immortal, invisible, God only wise
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord