Tuesday 19 January 2010

Michael Copeman RIP

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The Wonderful Michael Copeman RIP

Goodbye Michael, Goodbye Old Friend
Last year a dear old family friend died. He was my father and mother’s close friend, and my father had spent many years teaching with him and travelling around Eruope in the 1950s. My father, despite having had a bad stroke, would come down from London to sit with Michael and this image is the last time my father saw him. We knew the Michael could not last long here, and my father finally bent over to him and whispered Goodbye Michael, Goodbye Old Friend, before getting the train back to London. Michael died a few hours later.
Acrylic on wood

"A Graceful Death" at 127 Worple Road, Wimbledon, London SW19 8RQ
Wednesday 24 February to Sunday 29 February inclusive, 10am to 5pm daily

Open Evening Wednesday 24 Feb 6pm - 9pm

Closing Evening Sunday 28 Feb 6pm - 9pm

Michael Copeman died last year, on Christmas Eve. He was my father's closest friend, and they had known each other since the 1950s. Michael never married, had no children, and inherited a wondeful old Manor House and grounds but lived in a converted coach house with all the paintings and wonders of the old Manor House in a kind of gallery in the part of the Coach House where the horses would have been.

Michael was a modest man, painfully modest and unassuming. His courtesy and manners were impeccible. He was tall, handsome, suave and the very image of the eccentric English Gentleman who could easily be mistaken for the gardener in his patched old clothes. Michael could and did scrub up well, going to many very fancy and exclusive functions, but was at his best out of the public gaze.

Michael was a fixture in my life from the moment I can remember being alive. He was always amused and amusing, had a wonderful fast sports car which I used to go in when I was about 6 or 7, and the best thing of all - he had an electic saucepan which I was too in awe of for words. He could plug the handle into a socket in the wall and it would cook stews and mince and he didn't have to do a thing (he said). Micheal was a wonderful and charming and rather eccentric bachelor, the kind P G Wodehouse may have written about. He lived in Felpham, a small walk from where I live in Bognor Regis, and I was privilaged to walk along the sea to have tea with him in his faded, shabby, delightful Aladin's Cave of a Coach House, with the most exquisite orange roses flowering when it was their season, on the old walls outside his windows, until he was taken into hospital for his final few months.

My two sons benefitted too from Micael Copeman. He paid for my oldest boy to be privately educated, and when Oldest Son went to the state sector, he paid for my youngest son to go to a small and very good private school instead. He also sponsored many other students through their education. He became firm friends with some Japanese students here in West Sussex, and helped them all to learn English, go to University and finally to achieve their PhDs He was a very generous man.

So this same Michael Copeman is remembered in this exhibition. He was a quiet, unforgettable, sophisticated man who did much good and didn't want any fuss. It is worth saying that he learned Arabic while working out in Libya because he loved the Arab culture, and when he met and became friends with his excellent Japanese students, (all of whom have shown Michael the love and deep respect and care of a family, in his last years) he learned to speak and write Japanese. Wonderful Man.
Thank you Michael, for Everything.

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