Tuesday, 2 September 2008
In Loving Memory of Dr CJ
These two photographs were taken at the corner seat where Dr CJ (left) had been the permanent `resident'.
Dr Charles James (CJ) (left in both photographs) was the first man that I met and acquainted with upon my arrival in London on July 5th 1997 to begin my stint as New Straits Times news correspondent.
The NST office cum house (Times of Malaysia (London) Limited) was on the 1st Floor, 31 Chapel Side, Moscow Road, London W2 4LL a stone throw from the Bayswater and Queensway tube stations.
NST correspondent Rashid Yusof whom I was replacing came to the Heathrow Airport to wait for me and as soon as I met Karim Sulaiman and his family (they were staying a floor above me), I went out in search for something to eat.
I passed by King's Head Bar and seeing that there were not many people inside, I went in and sat at the end of the front bar. I ordered a pint and was enjoying that first drink in London, my back resting on the wall came a big build man walking with the aid walking sticks.
When he saw me, I smiled and said: Gentleman, I see you're new here. That place (pointing to where I was seated) is mine. Please, make way." Sensing that I was the only Malaysian inside the bar, I obediently moved away making way for the man to have his seat.
As I was moving to the a table holding the pint, the man said: "Young man, sit here (pointing to the empty chair next to him). I am CJ, join me. I will buy you a pint for moving from my seat."
Yes that was the beginning of a two years' friendship to CJ who was living just across the Bar and just a block away from Chapelside. It would be everyday with CJ at the bar. He introduced me to his friends who were professionals, TV celebrities and high-ranking City officials.
I had also introduced CJ to my friends/students from Malaysia and when I wife and children joined me, CJ was at the bar hosting us lunch.
I still remember when I came back from Germany after a-week-tour with the other London-based journalists that the moment I entered the bar, CJ was there staring at me. He was not amused for not being told where I went saying that he was worried that I went `missing' for a week.
When I told him that I was on official visit to Germany, he said:"Ah ha...young man the penalty is two pints for you for a week (he smiled), on me."
The next time I went to Scotland, I informed me and he gave me a number to call and the man turned out to be his relative. I had a great time. From the first encounter with CJ until I returned home to Kota Kinabalu Sabah, I was always there having a pint with CJ.
I also called CJ sometimes.
Than a shocking news was related to me by Nades (Citizen Nades) that CJ had passed away. I called on the numbers I used to call him, his younger brother Micheal was at the other end of the line crying, confirming that Dr CJ `had returned to the Lord.'
NST last assigned correspondent to London Mr Tony Emmanuel had the opportunity to meet and drink with CJ and he too, informed me of the good doctor's passing.
That was several years ago but Dr CJ, a retired medical consultant, is until now still fresh in my mind.