COVID-19 has killed another friend of mine – by Francis Quamina Farrier

–  by Francis Quamina Farrier

I have lost another long-time friend to the COVID-19 pandemic. Brilliant Guyana-born, England-based actor Gordon Case lost his brave battle with the COVID-19 and took his final bow on life’s stage, after ‘starring’ for just a little over the biblical allotted three score and ten years of life. Today, September 27, 2020, he would have been celebrating his 72nd Birthday. But instead of Happy Birthday Greetings and Congratulations, it is sad Condolences to his relatives, friends and colleagues.

Gordon Case, like Jimmy Bacchus, Billy Braithwaite, Hewley Harris, Michael Gilkes, Pat Thompson and other Guyanese who I have known for many years, have all died of complications due to the COVID-19 – a nasty and merciless killer disease which continues to take countless lives worldwide.         

At this time there are about 30,860 million people infected with the virus globally and already 962,000 deaths. The two countries with the highest number of fatalities are The United States of America with 202,000 and Brazil with 136,000 deaths. In the United Kingdom, a developed country with a population of 68 million, there are now 386,000 cases and 41,800 deaths. Sadly, a number of Guyanese residing in the UK are among the dead, including the most recent, my friend and theatre colleague of over five decades, Gordon Case.

The COVID-19 hit the United Kingdom extremely hard. Even Buckingham Palace and the British House of Parliament were not spared visits from the killer disease. Fortunately, it was not successful in causing deaths in those two august English structures and both Prince Charles and Prime Minister Boris Johnson who had tested positive, regained their health.

More recently, the British Prime Minister expressed the view that the UK may experience a second wave of the CORONA-19 virus as the winter months creep up and further lamented that the country does not have enough testing capacity at this time. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson further stated that “500,000 tests will be available daily by the end of October.”

A Case Family Photo. (Circa 1958). Gordon is at the back.

In writing about the life and theatre career of the late Gordon Case, I find it important to mention just a little about his family background. His father, Frederick W. Case, was a former Director of Education in British Guiana (now Guyana). In fact, Frederick W. Case was the very first Guyanese to have been appointed to that high post in colonial British Guiana. Previously, only Englishmen were considered educated enough by the Colonial establishment to hold that post. Then along came F. W. Case, a most respected, revered and highly educated senior public servant in the field of education when I was in my teen years. At that time he was already blazing a trail for the development of education in his native country from the lowest to the highest level.

Frederick W. Case, was also the father of Hamley Case, a well-known businessman who was also keen in the performing arts, writing the script and producing one of Guyana’s feature films, “AGGRO SEIZEMAN” in which his brother Gordon Case played the title role. Hamley Case also served Guyana in the diplomatic service and recently retired as Guyana’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK) and accredited to a few other European countries including Iceland and Estonia.

Guyanese-born celebrated
British actor Gordon Case.

During his long and impressive acting career in England, Gordon Case was involved in quite a number of successful theatre productions. He also graced television screens as well as the big cinema screens, appearing in a few movies; “AGGRO: SEIZEMAN” being one of the celebrated films. Shot in his native Guyana, South America, the film was directed by American Jimmy Manus.

Playing the crafty and tough Alexander “Aggro” Grant in that Guyana produced movie, Gordon Case brought to bear an intelligent interpretation of the character, combining grit and intelligence into the character who repossess goods which are bought on “hire purchase” – a part down payment followed with instalments. Those buyers who have failed to pay off in full, based on their contracts with the seller, would be subjected to the “Seizeman” turning up and repossessing the item(s).

That is a sales arrangement which is still done by some Business Establishments in Guyana at this time.

I am one of the actors in the movie who can testify to the professionalism of Gordon Case as an actor. Observing him in the lead role, other actors were exposed to genuine professionalism by Gordon Case. “Aggro Seizeman” proved a success both as a well produced film and also at the Box Office. Hamley Case has spoken about the catalyst that lead to the production of the movie. “To a large extent, inspiration for making the film came from interacting with the late Len Beharry while he was filming “If Wishes Were Horses.” Also appearing in “Aggro Seizeman” was the beautiful and talented Miss Guyana World 1971, Nalini Moonasar, who is from Corriverton, Upper Corentyne Coast.

A younger Gordon Case

I have pleasant memories of enjoying some of the performances of Gordon Case on stage and on television in England. He played Linton in the popular TV series Empire Road. The father in The Family Man. Ian in Black Silk among many others. Just prior to his passing, Gordon Case was cast in a film by the celebrated African-British Film maker Idris Alba, which proved that he was, even in his maturing years, still extremely popular with theatre and movie goers and in demand by producers as he continued to be offered substantive roles.

At this time, it is of concern by some Guyanese in Guyana, that relatives and friends in the UK could be facing a winter of disillusionment. It was recently announced that there is the possibility of another surge of the COVID-19 in the UK, which took the life of Gordon Case and other Guyanese resident there. As such there is the possibility of a second lockdown of the country during the latter months of 2020. However, all is not lost. “There will be 500,000 tests per day by the end of October.” according to the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who informed the nation that, “the results of those tests will be returned within 24 hours.”

Guyanese in the UK will have to be vigilant as they continue to obey the COVID-19 protocols.

Meanwhile, here in Guyana, in the past three months, the numbers of those tested positive and those who have died have sky-rocketed. From single digits in April and May, Guyana, with a population of around 800,000, COVID-19 cases are now 2,270 with 71 deaths. If that is juxtaposed with Botswana in Africa, which has a population 2.3 million but only 2,130 cases and just 9 deaths. That tells the story that while some developing countries are doing very well, others are not.

In more recent months, many Guyanese here at home, have let their guards down and have become careless in observing the recommended COVID-19 protocols. Many have been gathering in bars and other public places without the use of face masks and not observing the social distancing instruction. What I would like to mention is that thankfully, none of my relatives or friends who are here in Guyana, have tested positive or have died due to the COVID-19. So, I keep my fingers crossed, as I make the sign of the cross.

  • Aggro Seizeman Trailer -1975

Aggro Seizeman: Trailer (1975) Director: James Mannas & Brian Stuart-Young Screenplay: James Mannas Written: F. Hamley Case Starring: Gordon Case Guyana’s first locally filmed movie.

  • Gordon Case – Radio Interview – July 28, 2010

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Comments

  • kamtanblog  On September 25, 2020 at 5:12 am

    Sad news my friend !
    Life goes on regardless
    Memories are priceless.

    After corv19 will 20-21-22 follow !
    AIDS arrived in 1981 followed by many
    All still with us.

    Our political leaders are using it to promote
    their hidden agendas….allow donkies to vote
    they elect jackasses !

    Enjoy reading your input GOL including
    the sad ones.

    Kamtan uk-ex-EU

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