“GREET, HIS LIFE & TIMES” – By Des Kelly
Many tributes have already been made, including one from Joe Van Langenberg & “your’s truly”, in Australia
on eLanka. My apologies for naming Tuesday the 29th of December as the day of his passing, it was actually Monday, the 28th, according to a much more reliable source, his son, Steve.
This, together with this main “son re- father” account of his dad’s hectic, wonderful, & remarkable life, in a brief but touching tribute/semi-autobiog.
Chris was a truly multi-talented individual, never satisfied with seeing the world pass by without his involvement in something or the other.
Most times, it was both.
On behalf of eLanka, I would like to say thank you to Stephen Greet for this more in-depth story on the man who was his dad. It’s a great story.
Please read about Greet, his life & times. May he now rest in peace.
(Editor -in- Chief) eLanka.
Chris Greet – his son Stephen Thornton-Greet pays tribute to his colourful life
England was home but Sri Lanka was his joy
Well known actor and Radio Ceylon personality of yesteryear Chris Greet died on December 28, in the UK.
Here his son Stephen Thornton-Greet pays tribute to his colourful life
Source: Sunday Times
Chris Greet: A portrait by Dominic Sansoni.
Raconteur, actor, announcer, missionary, musician, father, grandfather and other rather more dubious credentials, Dad ended his days, still singing, still laughing, loud and ludicrous. He went quickly and was in no pain. A blessing.
We last saw him on Christmas Eve. We met through a glass door, the COVID way, to sing carols and say Merry Christmas. In truth, it seemed to me, as if Dad had decided it was now time to go home. Lots of family and so many loved ones waiting, such parties to be had.
He leaves behind three children – Natalie, Mariko and Stephen and eight grandchildren – Charith, Luke, Chelsea, Gabby, Sam, Emily, Hitoshi and Yukiko. Getting to see one’s kids grown up and to read stories to your grandkids seems to me, a further blessing.
Dad was born to Martin and Ada Greet (nee Paynter,) both of the India Christian Mission. He was the youngest of four: Aunty Averill, Uncle Noel, Aunty Evangeline and Dad, as pictured below in a painting by their uncle David Paynter. He was educated in India, in Sri Lanka (at S. Thomas’ College) and at a couple of English public schools, one being Berkhamsted Boys.
He left England at the age of 18 and spent his formative years in what was then known as Ceylon. That resplendent isle captured his heart. England was home but Sri Lanka was his joy. His greatest friends were those he made in those formative years at Radio Ceylon, bringing jazz to the country, or so the story goes.
The final goodbye: Son Stephen and daughter-in-law Nicky singing Christmas carols the COVID way through a glass door on Christmas Eve in London
Dad spent most of his early working life in Colombo, working in Radio, as previously mentioned, in Advertising at Intasel and Grants, on the stage and making movies like Rampage (he won Best Supporting Actor at the first Presidential Awards back in 1979 and Seetha Devi/Reincarnation, with a group of friends I have heard described, as the Ceylon Rat Pack… You all know who you are!
Talie and I fondly recall the times we all spent together: the magical Paynter Homes’ carol service in Nuwara Eliya and the elaborate shows we all put on together in Colombo. We had little choice but to share our Dad with our friends at the homes. I like to imagine, we mostly did this graciously.
Dad moved back to the UK in the early 80s and enjoyed a varied and eventful career spanning many genres. He played Gemma Atherton’s uncle, in the Disney movie ‘Prince of Persia’; has many TV credits to his name, including Victoria Woods ‘Dinner Ladies’, Dinotopia, Alice in Wonderland and The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells. He performed at the British National Opera in ‘Cosi fan tutte’, played Bernard Shaw at the Shaw Society and was even encased naked in a glass box and presented in Regent’s Park as a living sculpture. As you can imagine I didn’t see that one.
Dad had three loves in his life. Our Mum – Anne Loos (mother of Talie and Steve and Koshi), Aunty Kumiko (Mariko’s mother) and the lovely Dee Campbell who he married in 1985 and who broke his heart by passing away far too early.
A David Paynter (Uncle David) portrait of the three Greet children
Uncle Noel (Dad’s older brother) once said to me that a life well lived was one that leaves the world a better place for one having been through it. If ever there was an example of a life well lived, and time well spent, it was exemplified by Dad.
To be honest, he might have been more successful in any of his many endeavours, especially since he started off in one of the most iconic movies ever – The Bridge on the River Kwai. To Dad, however, success seemed to be measured in living in the moment and having as much fun in that moment as is possible.
Dad recounted a time when he was on the set of ‘Bridge’ having a drink with Sir Alec Guinness.
Dad: “So… Alec… do you think I should do this for a living?”
AG: “Only if one has a rich uncle dear boy.”
Far more amusing and embarrassing stories abound, from all his many friends, now spread across the world. I trust you all meet and reminisce from time to time, especially seeing as Dad now lives in our memories and through stories. Many friends have over the years, shared with me what a great source of joy he was to them. To all his great friends around the world, for those of you who knew and loved him, I would ask you to raise a glass, with us, his family, in wishing him a safe journey home.
Should you find yourself in Nuwara Eliya – kindly pop in visit and please continue to support the Paynter homes, one of Dad’s great passion projects, and maybe, in a quiet moment, high in those misty hills, you might just sense something of him. In the place that was… for Dad… forever Christmas.
As with everything these days, Dad’s final farewell will be governed by COVID. That said, the plan is that we have a Thanksgiving and Memorial for him, sometime in the summer.
The location? Two of Dad’s favourite places – Church and then the pub.