Speeches from the service

John started his journey on Friday 21st August 2009 at Eltham Crematorium. These are some of the speeches from his service.

A Celebration of the Life of John Bovenizer


(The only reason I’m able to do this today is because John isn’t here to heckle me.)

John was born on the 26th May 1964.

The most placid of babies, he loved everyone, ate anything and slept well afterwards. His favourite sleep suit was yellow with a rabbit and teddy peeping out of the pocket. A perfect second baby after his hyperactive older sister, Olive.

He went to ‘Our Lady of the Rosary’ primary school and was very popular. Years later, Robin turned up to his first day at the same school to discover that John had arranged for him to fight the Marsh twins’ younger brother much to Robin’s surprise.

(By the way Robin insisted that I point out that he won, because while he did get a black eye, the other boy got a black eye and a bloody nose.)

An equally loving older brother, when Sarah, his youngest sister, was brought home from hospital screaming with hunger, John offered her his thumb to suck, setting up a lifetime addiction.


Bruce Springsteen will never be the same again. Nor will Tom Waits. Meatloaf. Bob Seger. Neil Young, The Doors. I always listened to those artists with John by my side. Even when he was miles away. He wasn’t really. Not when the songs were playing.

John loved songs. They cut to the heart of things. They lay something bare. Much like John’s legendary sense of humour.

Many years ago, John and I went to see Tom Waits at the London Dominion. Good seats, close to the front. One of the songs affected us both greatly. Up until that point, we’d both thought of BURMA SHAVE as a good, but minor song. Tom sang it differently that night. He told us it was about the billboard ads he’d seen on the side of the highway advertising a men’s shaving foam called Burma Shave. But as a child, Tom had looked at the signs from his father’s car as they travelled and imagined they were advertising some magical, mythical town up ahead. A town where good things happened. John and I talked about that performance for many years. And how potent it had been. It was like a touchstone. We’d just look at each other and say “Burma Shave,” and knew what it meant.