12 November 2020
In 2002 I won a raffle. It wasn’t an ordinary raffle and it wasn’t an ordinary prize. Each ticket was £10 in support of Soho Theatre and I had bought just the one. But my ticket wasn’t picked. Clive Anderson was hosting the evening and he drew out the winning ticket, but the ticket holder was nowhere to be found, so Clive drew out another ticket. And it was mine. It was the only raffle I’ve ever won and I’d timed it well: the first prize was a trip to New York, business class flights, boutique hotel, dinner and shows. So among other adventures, I took advantage of the visit to go and see the author of a book we were going to produce which had been turned into a comic farce by Paul Lucas. The book was called The Dice Man and the author Luke Rhinehart lived two hours north of New York. A fabulous train from Penn Station took me to Hudson, where I was picked up by George Cockroft (his real name) who took me back to his house to meet his wonderful wife Ann. I stayed for three days. Over time George and Ann became amongst the most important people in my life. Every other year I would head out to Canaan where they lived in a large old farmhouse, overlooking a small lake which George had built surrounded by hills and trees and enjoy the most delicious food cooked by Ann, sit on their veranda and talk the days away. As they got older I started visiting every year, as I knew time was against us. George was a great writer and one of the funniest, most political, most interesting, most interested men you could hope to meet, whose views on life were unpredictable to the end. He was also a real man, in all the positive ways that word encapsulates. Ann is the most generous, creative, loving, perceptive women on the planet. There was something so comfortable and comforting about being in the company of these two loving people who cherished each other and the world around them. A couple of years ago George posted on Facebook that he had died. I was on the phone immediately to find him surprised I had taken it so seriously. I told him off and he promised not to do it again. So when I saw a post today stating George had died again, I stared at it for a long time. And I’m heartbroken. But for Covid, I had planned to see him in September. And so the last of the great old men in my recent life – my Dad, the actor Paul Scofield, the director John Harrison and now George Cockroft - is gone forever. And the world seems infinitely smaller. Goodbye George. I loved you so much. And I am looking forward to taking that train to see Ann as soon as they let us get on a plane to America.
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