Jack's Retirement

With a tea party at the House of Lords!

After enduring the harsh and heartbreaking conditions and personal circumstances in Bangladesh, Jack somehow also survived the dreadful air and noise pollution of Kolkata for almost 40 years before returning to the UK in October 1998.

During all this time he lived an ascetic lifestyle, dining in local restaurants and riding in packed public transport, something which would scare the jeans off most backpackers. He refused to use any charitable income for his own comfort or convenience. Unless someone else was paying, taxis were a no-no, ditto nice meals. His complete commitment to relieve human suffering was what he simply called "the work" All else came second to that. His antidote for problems and personal trials was his stoicism and dry sense of humour, for which he is well known to this day.

He upheld this discipline in his choice of living quarters. These primitive rented lodgings over the years, as many of us witnessed, consisted of little more than a bed and a bookcase, a chair and a table, a fridge, a fan, a shower and a W.C. The 24-hour city noise and endless car horns of Kolkata's traffic were guaranteed company, not to mention the deafening decibels produced during numerous festivals, and the regular, shocking detonations of huge firecrackers. One of his residences was next door to a brothel and a mosque which, depending on the time of day or night, provided an additional spectrum of fascinating sounds.

Finally, his health began to fail, and he made the difficult but wise decision to retire aged 'only' 88, and return to England where, after caring for over half a million of others during his life, he is now under the deserving care of the UK's National Health Service and social services. Jack will be 91 on the 25th of July 2021, and is living quietly and happily in a small town in Norfolk, a long way from the chaos and the cacophony of Kolkata. He remains in daily touch with the organisation which he gave birth to - on that amazing stretch of pavement, in 1979.

With Kolkata's skyline behind him, Jack prepared to integrate himself into life back in Britain, a dramatic change after living almost 50 years in Bangladesh and India. He arrived quietly at London Heathrow in keeping with his lifelong desire to maintain a low profile.

After slowly settling in with reverse culture shock, he was therefore not prepared for an invitation to the House of Lords to attend a private tea party hosted by Baroness Tessa Blackstone
here.