A paper-collage portrait of Jac created by her long-time friend and fellow artist Debbie Lee.
On reading Sir Andrew Motion’s review of Jim Perrin’s book West in The Guardian, 24/07/2010, as well as the comments on the following thread, we felt impelled to respond. Our first comment was removed although when we tried later we had greater success as it was more than twelve hours before it was detected and again deleted.
We had no idea how the system works and were naive enough to post a comment which, although absolutely truthful, caused offence. (Obviously, to Jim Perrin… ) For our third attempt we invoked The Guardian’s famed freedom of speech. They left this up — and we thanked them for it — although they did delete our next.
The remarks which we and others posted were generally responded to by one ‘Melangell’, a most vociferous and scathing commentator, and we believed within moments of reading them that they had actually been written by Jim Perrin. It became apparent that we were engaging mainly with this ‘faithful acolyte’ and the attempt to dismiss us with transparently veiled threats and the insulting use of lies was evident. Things were said which we sisters knew to be untrue and we could comprehensively prove them to be nothing but utterly vile falsehoods.
As we didn’t complain the increasingly unpleasant replies were left up — and they all revealed, we thought, something of the mindset of the person who had posted them. A reader following this exchange might have been mystified as it had been noted that some of our comments were ‘conspicuous by their absence’. But we have now realised that the Internet can offer the opportunity of genuine free speech, even though — as in our case — The Guardian refused to do so, and recently many well-wishers have advised us to use it for ourselves.
Our sister, Jac, can no longer speak for herself: we know that she would have been completely devastated by the latest ungentlemanly exposures in Jim Perrin’s dreadful book as well as by the gratuitous comments of ‘Melangell’ on The Guardian thread — but, as we said in one of our comments: ‘The dead have no right of reply.’ Therefore we intend on Jac’s behalf, and at every single opportunity, to set the record straight. We will not hide behind anonymity, nor use sophistry; we will tell only the truth.
In a query on this Guardian thread ‘joofofthedownes’ asked if we could give something of Jac’s history, and yes, she was certainly a most fascinating and talented person who was greatly loved and admired; by her family of course, but also by so many with whom she came into contact: she was a very special and life-enhancing person. We hope to tell of her life as we knew it — sadly shortened as it was to be, and we have many lovely photographs to show of her work.
Jac’s sisters: Elisabeth Simpson, Caroline Hardaker and Alex Richardson.