JimenaPulse

About Jimena de la Frontera, the province of Cadiz and Spain as a whole, focused on this small village in the mountains

Jan Webster and Jimena, by José Regueira Ramos

JuanaLaLoca The following appeared in TioJimeno yesterday afternoon, written by Jimena’s Official Chronicler and translated by The Translation People. Having attended the event to celebrate the memory and pay tribute to Jan Webster, there are a few comments I would like to make. Firstly, to mention the large number of members of our colony of foreigners, mainly British. Secondly, to express my dismay at the few ‘Jimenatos’ (natives of Jimena) that turned out. I think ‘our’ good friend Juana ‘La Loca’ deserved better from them and, especially, from municipal representation, be it official or otherwise. In third place, it was evident not only in how much affection was held this good woman, who spent fifteen years among us, but also in her exceptional human qualities, more than what we here could imagine.>A friend of hers came specially from England to address us (translated by that unequalled introducer of foreigners that is Alberto Bullrich) and to give us a brief biography of Jan. Australian by birth, she was a psychiatric nurse, a career she started in London when very young, having been a matron before reaching 30. She then studied anthropology and lived in Tanzania and other African countries, where she left behind much evidence of her professional and human dedication. It seems she was also keen on studying the phenomenon of witchcraft and healing that proliferated (and proliferates) in Africa.

She won her accolade of Juana ‘La Loca’ in Jimena thanks to her spontaneity, friendliness and her occasionally extravagant attitudes. Her particular sense of humour took her to painting her face in the African manner, or to donning a train Station Master’s uniform and directing railway traffic at the station in San Pablo, La Estación, the building that was converted into an original restaurant and which Jan visted frequently. The pamphlet and photographs we saw at the event showed her in these disguises. It was that spontaneity that allowed her easy integration with the local population.

However, if anything stands out about Jan, it is her extraordinary generosity, of which she left plenty of proof in Jimena. For one thing, she was always willing to offer her professional knowledge to anyone needing it and never asking for anything in return. And that is why she rushed from either London or Australia, I’m not certain, as soon as she heard about her good friend Hamo Sassoon’s illness, whom she nursed until he died. (Hamo was another British Jimenato to whom Jimena remains in debt about recognizing his work here.) She attended many others professionally and generously without asking for anything. Further evidence of her generosity (or perhaps her ‘locura’ – craziness?) is to give someone you have only just met  the keys to your flat in London so that they can spend as much time there as they liked. TioJimeno knows about that ‘craziness’ well.

She put her generosity and spontaneity to good use and to the benefit of the La Estrella del Regüé association (for the handicapped in Jimena) by taking an active part in several charity events. Some months ago her friends organized her 70th birthday party. She specified no presents. Only cash into a box to benefit La Estrella. Some €600 was collected. Now, before she died, she left word that at any event in her name, a collection should be made. There was one ‘obligation’: the money collected had to be more than before. Mission accomplished: the collection was over €1000 (€1,300, to be exact), which gives some idea of the generosity of our British neighbours … or of the respect for Jan’s ‘orders’. Like El Cid, our missing friend was also winning battles even after her death.

I do not wish to finish this without pointing out the work towards the integration of the British colony that our friend Alberto Bullrich is carrying out and which was manifest once more at this event, where he acted as translator and integrator. Just as he does daily through his blog in English, aimed at our British neighbours. I believe Jimena is in debt to him, too, in the same way as to Jan, Hamo and perhaps other foreigners as well.

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4 Comments»

  sheila c wrote @

Many thanks to Alberto for the wonderful piece he wrote regarding Jan Webster. Well worth reading. She certainly did her part for Jimena, and as you said she will be missed.

  prospero wrote @

Thank you for your kind words, Sheila, but the article was written by José Regueira, as it says in the headline…

  Maureen Connelly wrote @

As Jan’s friend who travelled to Jimena to talk to you at the celebration of her life I am immensely touched by this warm, Spanish, tribute to her. Thank you Jose and Alberto.

  prospero wrote @

I strongly suspect Jan would be tickled pink – well, fuschia, her favourite shirt colour for Jimena, I think. Thanks for your comment, Maureen.


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