Throughout my busking career, certain people have stood out as incredibly kind, supportive, and welcoming. John was one of them. The grandson of the original owners of Ted's, he has been the manager there for decades. I wouldn't have pegged the gruff marine veteran as someone who would get excited about elves and puppets, but he certainly proved me wrong. John and I are as different as two people can be, but shared a mutual affection.
In fact, John routinely invited me inside to use the staff bathroom. On cold December days, he demanded I come inside to warm up. He coaxed his new employees into stepping outside to check out my act, and during his frequent cigarette breaks encouraged passersby to stop and watch. If a crowd had gathered, he came outside just to make sure they had noticed my marionette's and my matching outfits.
In December of 2016, I returned to Northampton to busk after 18 months away. John warmly greeted me and welcomed me back. I occupied my mind that day thinking about my lovely relationship with Ted's, including the fact that I can see my reflection in their window, reminding me to smile. I took this picture of exactly that.
|Checking out my elven reflection|
John was only 59, and seemed perfectly healthy (except for smoking) when I last saw him. I don't know why he died, but I do know he was too young. My heart truly goes out to his family, some of whom I knew from the shop, and friends. I didn't know John well, but his extraordinary support went a long way. He was truly a patron of the arts, and Northampton won't be the same without him.