I spoke to Janice on the night before Christmas Eve. We said how much we loved each other and I simply couldnâ€™t take in that this might be last time Iâ€™d hear her voice.
Sheâ€™s been a big part of my life for over forty years. First as my boyfriendâ€™s sister, then as my sister-in-law, then my ex sister-in-law but most significantly over the last fifteen years, one of my very dearest friends.
It is lovely to read the memories bands and producers are sharing and she leaves a massive legacy as a brilliant, authentic supporter of great music. She was inspiring across both the music and wider radio industry and became a friend to millions through her shows.
From the first time we met in 1978, in her flat in Liverpool, the thing I loved about her was her sheer zest for life, her irreverence, her intelligence, her honesty and her sheer generosity of spirit. She loved music and she loved people. Especially her family, who she nurtured, always loyal, always encouraging, always so much fun, the completely trusted go-to one for advice.
We had our first children within three months of each other. At the time she was living just round the corner from us in a tiny village outside Newbury. She would be delighted to see herself described as ‘Former Ball Hill resident, Janice Long’ in the Newbury Today piece with lovely pictures taken just after Fred was born.
In the early years of my divorce, we communicated via my daughter Rose, each asking how the other was and sending our love. We began to meet up and opening up the friendship again felt very good for us both.
So when she told Rose the BBC had decided her Radio 2 show should come from London rather than Birmingham (where she then lived) Rose didnâ€™t hesitate to make the obvious suggestion. â€˜Why donâ€™t you move in with Mum?â€™ And so Janice came to live with me during the week and as you can imagine for two years I had the best house mate ever. Â We became close, sharing stories, helping each other. She gave me endless encouragement as I developed TeenTech sitting on what she called â€˜the work sofaâ€™ and her support and enthusiasm over those years meant so much to me.
We worked at opposite ends of the day, so sheâ€™d be setting off to prepare her R2 show just as I was winding up for the day. Iâ€™d be fast asleep when she returned after 3am. Very sound asleep, as it turned out one night, when she found herself trapped in the bathroom when the doorknob came off in her hand. When I finally realised that I wasnâ€™t dreaming and the shouts for help were not only real but coming from inside my own house, sheâ€™d been in there for nearly two hours.
I missed her enormously when the BBC made another change and decided her show had to come from Salford. But of course, it also meant she could be back living full time with her family and also in a house where the tv remote didnâ€™t randomly switch off all the lights.
In recent years, Radio Wales gave her the opportunity to do what she most enjoyed â€“ play the music she loved and do live sessions with bands. Theyâ€™ve put together a celebration of her relationship with them here.
Sheâ€™s been taken before her time but sheâ€™s packed a lot of living into her 66 years. Sheâ€™s also given out a lot of love to us all. Thank you Janice, for everything.