What's in a Name?
Our company name, Big Chief Hemp, is homage to a Great Man.
James Forward, The man, the myth the legend, exploded into this planet in the 1950s. He left a considerable mark, on many a life. James had gravitas, the like I’ve never experienced before in a fellow human being.
James, Jimmy, Big Jim, The Chief, The Guru of Maidenhead are but a few of his nicknames. These are the names or titles if you will, that stick in my mind the most.
It is bittersweet, I was only honoured to have been in the great man’s life for a mere three years before he left this earthly realm. I’d known of him for many years prior to meeting him. Jim’s reputation; larger than life but had never had the pleasure of his company.
In that very short time, when we did eventually cross paths; he made such an impression in me. We had a love affair; of minds.
Myself and business partner felt compelled to name our company in his honour. It was the most natural thing to do. Our company is based around Natures Gift, we count the Big Chief as natures gift to the planet.
The time was too short, still grieving and feel utterly robbed of a friendship that I never fully got to explore. Although, he would laugh, as the Chief saw me for exactly who I was after only a few meetings.
The Chief was very funny, he loved a wind-up and would ask very probing questions, although you had no clue the probe was occurring at that moment.
He polarised people, positively; this left him with a fantastic, large and eclectic group of friends.
A toxic presence was not welcome or tolerated. It’s a beautiful ethos and one which I try to emulate.
Conversations around Jimmy flowed and were provoking, stimulating.
He adored a good philosophy session, feeling out others thoughts. He was sharp and very open to new ideas, Engaging and challenging of your ideas and his own, at each turn.
His home had a revolving door, folks leaving and arriving at different times, day and night, rarely coming empty-handed.
He looked after the vulnerable and nurtured those who needed a father figure or a friend. He had great Loves and some short flings, he had a lot of respect for women. He felt our place in this world was equal to any men, we all have our individual attributes.
While he was very caring, he also loved hearing a bit of gossip (quietly). He was brutely honest. It was always a lesson, sometimes a tad harsh. Only ask Big Jim a question if you are looking for an honest answer. He was not a fan of sugar coating anything unless it was appropriate.
A prolific reader of books and he listened to bonkers music; I referred to it as a psychedelic taste in music. He loved to party, enjoyed a good festival.
His home was always full of music, love and friends.
At the end of a long evening, he had some tunes that could clear out a room, just so he could go to bed (Frank Zapper and Captain Beefheart).
As with all spiritual beings, he made music, loved the bongo’s and could play them very well. He enjoyed a good jamming session, had no qualms with trying something new; he was very ‘out there’ and supportive of your music, even if it wasn’t his cup of tea.
Next to my own father, and best friend, one of my hero’s and mentors, his brief teachings, still ring in my head today.
Within our company, His sayings are still permeating around our work and lives. On a tough subject, it’s often a question we always ask ourselves; “Well, what would the big man say?”.
It’s a daft question really, he was not predictable and so each response you got in any answer to a question, was not always expected or obvious
He would often put a mirror to you and open your mind to your self. Not always appreciated at the time but eventually understood.
It was a gift, not one I believe was honed in just the one lifetime.
It was as if James had been here before, many a previous life.
I remember vividly, all of our encounters. In the main, they were joyful and all memorable. The Big Chief made a significant impact on my life.
Before I met Our Chief, I had zero spiritual feelings and did not believe in any religion or higher power. At the same time could not get my head around a scientific fact. The facts are never absolute and forever changing.
Since our coming together, he taught me, it was okay not to believe in any denomination, it doesn’t mean there is nothing there. To ignore the re-written teachings and do my own broad research from every angle to find within yourself, the answer.
The clarity he gave you was refreshing and made you realise, you don’t need to know it all, just enjoy the ride.
The aurora The Chief possessed was gentle but powerful. Our sun-worshipper was affectionately and respectfully called The Big Chief.
The Big man was quietly in charge; a tall man who studied Aikido, a self-defence martial art, created to defend one’s self all the while protecting their attackers from injury.
The art of Aikido is translated as “the way of unifying life energy or often described as “the way of harmonious spirit”.
‘The way of harmonious spirit’ – I couldn’t describe James any more accurately in one sentence if I tried.
The Chief because he was wise and not backwards in coming forwards. He had the highest cheekbones, very prominent. An attractive man he did not have the classic look of a European male. He had long hair, mostly tied back and didn’t seem to be born of this time.
He didn’t walk, he glided, his moves eloquent and measured. He could physically have control of you in one delicate move, by holding your hand, all very calmly. His respect had to be earned. And his connection, you craved.
The Big Chief did not conform, he had his own rules and could see the game was rigged. He played life by his own laws, always respectfully. James had a tribe of his own, and we all adored him, that’s not to say he wanted it that way. He enjoyed his own company too.
He could be frustrating at times, but his words always made sense.
Noone who knew Jim crossed him, it was an unwritten rule and duly abided by.
He was undoubtedly too clever for most but worked hard to relinquish his ego. Tricky and not always achieved, but he was self-aware and made every effort to be a gentleman unless you deserved otherwise.
If The Chief told you off, no one asked him why he did it, you were asked what on earth had you had done?
James, left behind two outstanding children, adults now with their own families. Their lives, a seriously tough journey, losing their Mum, and Jim lost his love to Cancer when the children were young.
James raised the children on his own with help of friends and family and what a fantastic job he did.
He leaves behind four Grandchildren, they all adored their GrandFather.
James was also struck with Cancer in his 60s’. The children orphaned too young. His legacy lives on, He was the perfect Grandad lots of fun and gave them his time and taught them funny lessons, enjoyed camping holidays together.
He leaves behind a beautiful family who miss him dearly, their loss is Great but at the same time, how lucky were they to have spent a lifetime with The Chief.
My best friend and partner was under the wing of our Chief and had been since his late teens. The Chief was; his Brother, Father and Uncle all rolled into one.
Big Jim told us that together we could make something magical and help to heal the fractures of our surrounding environment. He was not wrong. The Chief knew the benefits of Cannabis to the planet, to the economy and to medicine.
Big Chief Hemp, would not have existed if it was not for James, pointing out the obvious and offering us encouragement and giving us the drive we needed. We tired him out with it in the end. We are eternally grateful for his love and guidance.
He loved our mission, and I just hope he knows what an impact he had on Big Chief Hemp and us. My final hope is that we can do his memory justice and achieve our dream of helping and healing, with nature.
As I write this, the date is very significant, it would have been The Big Chief’s birthday today.
James, we raise a glass and a pipe in your honour today 14th August 2020.