All the peculiar strangeness, all the novel newness, all the curiosity and the naïve sense of absurdity disappears instantly, in the shortest of seconds when death suddenly makes its appearance.

As it has just done in our family.

Our beautiful Barry Woodward has been taken from us by the virus, he passed in Colchester Hospital this week.

The sudden reality of what this deadly virus can do has come crashing home. As it has for many others. We are not alone. We have joined the mass of others. The people who have lost someone close. We know this. We are all hurting.

Our family reaches out to all the victims, to everyone who has felt loss. We are holding hands with you in our disbelief and our grief. In our wretched melancholy. We stand with you. We stand together.

The last gift Barry gave us, typical of his selflessness, was that he had completely isolated himself. Not wanting to be a bother, not wanting to make a fuss, he kept his distance until he was so poorly, hospital was the only option.

We will miss so many things about this shy and sensitive man.

Always choosing to stand back, to blend in, to quietly get on with things. But always a welcome presence in our family and at our gatherings. His quiet company and his devoted care for our Beryl, my wife’s mother, the way he watched out for her, a little note of caution here, a smile there, it was a love grown from a deep friendship.

The famous family occasion I shall always treasure was last Christmas. During the ritual and relentless parlour games forced upon him, flip the kipper, pass the parcel, balloon tennis et al, the looming inevitability of the boisterous playing of charades was unavoidable.

Boisterous charades was anathema to our gently spoken accountant but ironically and unluckily for Barry he was good at guessing the answers so would be landed with more turns than he deserved.

On this occasion, in choosing the Robert Bolt play about Thomas More “A Man For All Seasons” he had, by his own admission, set the bar a little high. What started us off was when we began by quizzing him… “How many words, Barry?” expecting him to hold up the required indicative fingers.

“Four, excluding the indefinite article,” came the prompt reply.

We didn’t let him even whisper another word until half an hour later, when exhausted by effort and his own laughter, after numerous improvised costume changes, exasperated mime and frantic pointing we eventually got the answer.

And we all rolled about laughing for hours. I’m smiling now with the memory.

Not from me, the clown prince and extrovert, but you, gentle Barry, the lovely Barry. Fish and chips Barry. Tea and television Barry. Strawberries Barry. Beautiful Barry. How you made us laugh that time.

And it was you sir, who would often smile and relate back a story I’d written about in this little outpost, this very column, who would smirk and tease me with my own material. No-one else seemed to notice. But you did. I loved it.

There will many more people taken before this despicable virus is done. The novelty has been replaced with grief and this grief shall be the shadow it leaves when the sun finally rises on us all again. But that sun shall rise.