The Questors Archive logo



On 2nd March 1968 the Questors lost their Hon. Treasurer, a former Membership Secretary, an actor, a producer, a Member of the Committee of Management and of various sub-committees.

On 2nd March 1968 a Group of Companies lost their Secretary and Accountant, and their Managing Director his personal assistant and confidante.

On 2nd March 1968 I lost a friend.

On 2nd March 1968 Laurence Nixon died.

A conventional Obituary Notice would be quite inappropriate for a man whose lively intellect refused to accept convention for convention's sake. Not for Laurence the long eulogy recording his many activities at the theatre and extolling his qualities; suffice it to say that the Questors had much to learn from Laurence and much to thank him for. It will be a long time before the gaps which he has left - on our stage, on our Committees and in our hearts - will be filled.

For Joyce, his widow, it is unnecessary to express our feelings further - she knows them already. With her permission we print on this page the words written by James Saunders for Laurence's funeral service.

Actor, producer, committee man and businessman - but so much more. Let the final words come from the literary love of his life - Shakespeare:

`His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, "This was a man!'

from David Eldridge

HOW do I talk about the dead? What do I say, what is there to say, why am I trying to say anything? If he were here it would be easy enough; the farewell speech: affectionate reminiscences, a joke or two - waiting for his laugh; a quote from Shaw and a quote from Shakespeare; thanks and best wishes for the future; he'd reply, wittily, savour the champagne, flatter the women and mean it, brush off the compliments and enjoy every minute, and show it. It would be for him. But he isn't here, or we can't assume it; he'd have been the last to. So what am I trying to do? It's too late to say goodbye. Who am I talking to?

Very well. Start with cold fact. Last week he was alive; this week he's dead. How does one go on from there'? I'm richer for knowing him, I'm poorer for losing him. Go on from there. He's gone, I'm left; go on from there. So I'm talking to myself; go on from there.

Then what am I trying to do? Show my wounds? He'd have hated that, he was on Coriolanus's side. Give him a good send-off, then? But whatever I'm sending off it isn't him, he made his own exit, he got the cue and I missed it. Comfort myself? Well, yes, but how? With words? Words wont raise the dead. Words are for information, and what is there to tell?—he's dead, and I'd rather he wasn't. Is that all?

Is that all? I keep saying he's dead, yet I keep talking about him. Am I trying to convince myself that he's gone, or trying to convince myself that he isn't? Trying to clothe a memory in flesh, or trying to exorcise it? What does it matter what he'd have done, what he'd have said, what he'd have liked or hated? He's dead, where's the problem?

The problem is that I don't really believe it. Nothing to do with ghostly presences, nothing to do with afterlife. It's to do with knowing him. When he was alive I knew him. Now he's dead I still know him. Insofar as I knew him, he lived in me; insofar as he lived in me, he changed me. Insofar as he changed me, I carry him about with me. I am partly his product; he is part of my poor riches. I shall carry him with me until I die. Meanwhile, it's only a part of me that has died, in him.

Is this as far as I can go, is this all I want to say? `We are members one of another'? It's been said before better. But it is as far as I can go. I'm poorer for losing him. I'm richer for knowing him.

by James Saunders