Vivien Jones

This is a post to celebrate the life of a remarkable woman. Vivien Jones passed away on 26 December 2010 after an incredible battle against illness. I am hoping I have enough hyperbole to acknowledge and revere Vivien.

I first met Vivien in the late 1970s at St Mary’s College in Strawberry Hill. My wife Sue had known Vivien for much longer. I got off on the wrong foot at our first meeting when I called Vivien ‘Viv’. It was made very clear that Vivien was the proper greeting. Thereafter I worked with Vivien and was in awe of what she achieved as a mum, a lacrosse player and as a cherished friend. In the early 80s I acted as an occasional child minder for Sara and Nicola when Vivien attended the Centre of Excellence organised by my wife Sue.

Sue and I last met Vivien in October 2010. We stayed with Vivien at her beautiful home in Hampton. Typical of her she gave up her own room  for us. We timed our visit to coincide with the Southern Clubs and Colleges Tournament and on a very wet day I was amazed at her energy in supporting Centaurs. To my absolute delight I watched her march on to the pitch at the end of full time to galvanise the team for the golden goal extra time. I wondered then as I had done for almost 30 years how one person could have and share so much passion. I do know that she has proved to be an inspiration for me through all that time.

In 1997 I had the special opportunity to work with Vivien at the Fifth Women’s Lacrosse World Cup in Tokyo. During the preparation for the tournament and in the tournament I had the enormous privilege of working closely with her. What I learned from her during that time I have used in my professional and personal life in ways that I hope she would appreciate.

1997 is linked to 1993. I was at the World Cup in Edinburgh and was videoing the tournament for the Welsh team. On a very, very wet day through a very misty viewfinder I saw Vivien attack in the final minutes against Canada. Her shot at goal was from a long way out but as ever was profoundly astute. The shot hit the crossbar exactly in the middle and could have gone either into the goal to win the game or out to await another opportunity. The ball hit the bar with enormous force and rained a shower of water on the Canadian goalkeeper. The ball spiraled twenty feet into the air with the goal shuddering. I felt that if the bar had not been in the way the ball would have kept travelling from Heriot Watt to Princes Street.

In 1997 I reminded Vivien about that moment and saw it as the bond that tied us to perform in 1997. I would go anywhere to support someone who when they were absolutely exhausted in the most wretched of conditions would front up driven by energy that very few people in the world of sport possess. 1997 turned out to be a most wonderful tournament for Wales. Vivien was at the heart and soul of that success.

What I find really wonderful is that the friendships and love forged there in Tokyo continue to the present. The team had its thirteenth reunion in 2010 and typically the number 13 player in the squad was at the heart of the fun and memories.

Vivien will be missed profoundly. Her joy of life, her unequivocal friendship, her love of her daughters and a once in a lifetime resilience are very special legacies.

She did not go gentle into that good night, her raging against the dying of the light has taught me even more than I imagined possible.

I send my love and sincerest wishes to Vivien’s daughters Sara and Nicola, to John and Vivien’s family. Vivien will be with us all as long as we have memories and stories to tell.


The Guardian published an obituary for Vivien on 23 January. Gill Phillips wrote a very sensitive account of Vivien’s remarkable life.

Listening Pleasure: Thinking About Performance

This week on my journeys into Canberra I have had an opportunity to catch up with ABC Classic FM and Radio National. Three items in particular helped me think more about performance. Two were symphonies played on Classic FM and one was a discussion about writing on Late Night Live.

The two symphonies were:

1. Aaron Copland conducting Appalachian Spring (1979)

2. Henryk Górecki‘s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (Symfonia pieśni żałosnych)

Aaron Copland’s performance as a conductor composer encouraged me to think about how tacit knowledge is made available and confirmed my fascination with performances of understanding. Goriecki’s symphony was so beautiful (it was the first time I heard it) it prompted me to think about performance beyond words and how resonance is a fundamental relationship we have we each other and the world.

The Late Night Live conversation was between Phillip Adams and Mark McGinness. This is the web site trail for the interview “The obituary has had a relatively short life, becoming a regular fixture in Australian newspapers in the early 1990s. However, obituaries have become almost mandatory reading, offering up a celebration of life amid the usual gloom. But how do obituary writers get such an insight into the dearly departed?”

It was a delightful interview and I was left with a very clear sense of the precision required to share a life. It made me think about how coaches communicate and how writing whilst going beyond the 140 characters of Twitter can have an intensity that celebrates lives through thick description. This obituary of Michael Romanoff encapsulates the themes of the interview.

Photo Credits

Simon Ilic Leaning Tree

Michael Sarver Appalacian Trail

Janusz L River Sings