John Hellon, 1932-2012

Shortly after landing at Zaventum I learned of the sudden and unexpected death early the previous day of John Hellon, a founder member of my writers’ workshop and a good friend. In a long life, John had seen most of the world and lived in many parts of it. After (active) military service in the Korean War he had worked as a Swiss-based tour guide, a London-based advertising man and a Brussels-based business man. In between, there had been trips to Africa and the Caribbean and the Far East and a house in Mexico and an Italian wife and son before realising his true sexuality and ‘coming out’. John had a passion for cooking. He wrote a number of cookbooks, including a big hit with The Blue Elephant Cookbook: Royal Thai Cuisine. For many years he wrote an authoritative restaurant column for a local magazine, The Bulletin. (His guacamole, last tasted by me just before Christmas, was simply delicious!) A tall man, with erect stature,a booming voice and his tell-tale ‘ooh-la-la!’ (delivered ironically), John always told things as they were – or as he thought they were. His fortnightly exercises for the workshop would often involve wistful reminiscences about buildings and places that had known better times, combined with a choice quotation based on his compendious knowledge of Hollywood films, tunes and lyrics. He had a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. Here’s what John Boyle (another founder workshop member) said on Facebook: “Farewell John Hellon. One of the few who really was ‘larger than life’ in every way. Outspoken, often outrageous, gregarious, generous – a marvellous host. One thing is sure: ‘il n’est pas passé inapercu.'” Just last year John completed a manuscript, entitled The Paper Museum, made up of autobiographical reminiscences triggered by particular objects or images. We must now make sure he lives on through the publication of his museum.



  1. Marcos Rodrigues

    My dear friend John hellon, I miss you buddy

  2. Ismail

    Farewell John – Ismail

  3. Ismail


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