February 8, 2023

50 N.O. & 75 N.O. (whatever)

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Chris Johnson

Thirty seven years ago I arrived on these shores and that very first day I met Christopher (Chris) Johnson.

A week ago I was at a birthday party to celebrate Chis’ 75th birthday and his 50th year in Cayman.

I met Chris with other fine company, but sadly no longer with us, Norman Avis and Ken Spraggon, at the old and also deceased Seaview Bar and Hotel on South Church Street.

As I was installed for my first two weeks at the Seaview Hotel by Mr. Spraggon, who was in charge of the finances at my then employer, Arch and Godfrey, it was understandable why I had to frequent the bar.

Yes, VERY understandable.

It was also at Seaview Bar I met my wife, Joan, but that is another story and nothing to do with Chris. Indirectly, though, with Mr. Avis.

With only Chris now left of that trio it was with much delight that my friendship with Chris has continued, and as a good wine, matured and got better with age.

The party was held at his castle on the Seven Mile Beach and there were hundreds in attendance. I looked around for Lord Ashcroft, but his Lordship was sadly missing. It couldn’t have been Lord Ashcroft had been forgotten as his name came up in one of the speeches there made by one of Chris’ close friends.

It’s no surprise Chris mixes in the company of Lords and Ladies, especially the ladies, as Chris is a delightful man to be with. He loves to joke and enjoy life, and what’s wrong with that?

Apparently, a lot after listening to the ‘roast, executed with great dry humour from MC, Mike Austin.

Mr. Austin had the pleasure of employing Chris, at his accountancy practice those fifty years ago and even left him in charge of his house he was renting when he left to go on vacation for a few weeks. The house was Grand Old House, now a first class restaurant. Chris soon found it was a grand place to hold his wild parties and invite his friends. Mr. Austin even allowed Chris to look after his car and Chris did that job very well, too. He even was able to tell the owner, when he arrived back at the airport the exact top speed his car could do. Chris, also, gave him the keys to his new living quarters. A one bedroom apartment on a complex that was still under construction. The owner of Grand Old House had somehow terminated Mr. Austin’s lease during Chris’ tenure.

We learned a lot from other speeches about Chris’ unique character. Whilst studying to become an accountant he took a job to make some pocket money at a supermarket as a shelf stacker. A customer came up to him and asked if he could buy half a water melon. Chris told the customer he would check.

Chris strolled up to his supervisor and said words to the effect that some silly ass had asked if he could buy half of a watermelon. It was only after saying this that Chris saw that this ‘silly ass’ had followed him and was now standing by his side. Without a pause, Chris continued his report to his supervisor with, “but this kind gentleman has offered to buy the second half”.

I have, since writing this, been given the complete speech of Mr. Austins and it does bare some resemblance to what I have just written so I will not change it.

I will however, quote, this more serious piece:

“I have the privilege of being one of the few here this afternoon who can claim to have known Chris during the whole fifty years since he arrived in Cayman in 1968. From my personal experience I can tell, you will not find a kinder more generous individual. Chris has truly made his mark in Cayman having been the catalyst in starting numerous organizations for instance the Sub Aqua Club, the Hockey Club, the Tennis Club, the Darts League, the Table Tennis league, and of course the Village Greenies. The list goes on and on and Chis should be justly proud. On the professional side, Chris and I were Founder members of the original Society of Professional Accountants, and of course Chris, we know, has a long association with the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman having served as President and also Treasurer for several years . He has, as one would say in current vernacular, truly “Made a Difference” or “Well done Mate” as Derek [Haynes] would say.

It was a wonderful celebration and along with the hundreds of persons at Chris’ party I echo the closing words of Mr. Austin’s roast:

“Ladies and Gentlemen please raise your glasses in a toast to my very dear long time friend, the unique lovable unsurpassable Christopher. Happy 50th 75th whatever. Ladies and Gentlemen TO CHRIS”

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