Jonathan Cainer, 1957-2016
by Stephen Lord
On the recent Planet Waves FM, I mentioned that Jonathan had a technical partner whose name I did not know. That would be Stephen Lord, who just wrote to introduce himself to me, and sent this letter. — efc
I remember the first time I met Jonathan.
It was in the early 80s and I was working for a small IT firm, Senlac Systems in west London, when the MD of the company introduced us.
“This is Jonathan Cainer,” he said. “He’s got an idea for an astrology program and I thought you two might be a good match.”
We chatted briefly, realized that my interest in astronomy would prove useful and agreed to try working together. Thus started a relationship which lasted for more than 30 years.
We wrote that first astrology program working in and sometimes sharing a small bedsit in Swiss Cottage. Whilst I was crouched over my keyboard, trying to cram the future of the solar system into an astonishingly tiny (by today’s standards) amount of computer memory, Jonathan was crouched over his, writing the interpretations for the program — and also working on a small book called Love Signs.
We’d take a break to watch ‘Hill Street Blues’ and ‘Soap’ on a small TV and test recipes from The Junk Food Vegetarian, yet another book Jonathan was working on at the time.
Nothing much became of The Junk Food Vegetarian, or the astrology program, until later. But the publication of Love Signs would trigger both the start of Jonathan’s career as an astrologer and of our ongoing collaboration.
One evening, I got an excited phone call from Jonathan. He had received a call from the editor of ‘Woman’ magazine. She had read Love Signs, and wanted to promote a computer horoscope chart via the magazine.
The deadline was just one month from the time we received the request.
So, we went for it. Jonathan started writing the interpretations and I started programming — on a BBC Master sporting a massive, state of the art, 5MB hard drive.
We made the January deadline by staying up night after night, me sleeping on the couch when exhausted and programming all the hours I was awake.
We parted ways for a while after that. I ran off to join a rock ‘n’ roll band and busk around Europe with my girlfriend of the time, in a hand-painted Volkswagen camper van having the time of my life.
Meanwhile, Jonathan’s career went from strength to strength. He was commissioned by Edie Shah, the editor of the newly minted ‘Today’ newspaper to produce an entire page of Astrology and New Age related content. The ‘premium phone lines’ were set up and Jonathan’s profile just grew and grew.
After returning from my adventures, I went to say “hi again” to Jonathan and we struck up our friendship once more.
Then, in 1994, I had my first glimpse of a new phenomenon known as the ‘World Wide Web’ whilst chatting to Daniel, Jonathan’s brother, in his small attic music studio in North London.
I was knocked out by what I saw. Surely this was the future I was looking at; a vast, global network of information available to anyone simply by pointing and clicking with a computer mouse.
I bought myself a brand new laptop, set off for York and, in front of an open fire in Jon’s home office at the ‘Manor House’ in Oulston, proposed that we immediately set up one of these new-fangled websites, featuring his daily forecasts.
At the time, I think, only one other astrologer was publishing on the web: Rob Brezsny, with his weekly forecasts.
So, for the next few years, while I was running an internet software company as a day job, we published Jonathan’s forecasts diligently six days a week, despite there being no revenue to support it. This was before internet advertising existed, even as a gleam in an avaricious advertising exec’s eye. It was an act of faith and belief in the future, an attitude and outlook that has always defined Jonathan’s work and vision.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Jonathan’s work online was followed by increasing numbers of people as they discovered the allure of the internet and the world wide web, and found there, waiting for them, Jonathan’s inspirational writings.
Since that time we have worked together continuously; sometimes with great unity of purpose, optimism and enthusiasm; other times locking horns as his wild adventurous Sagittarian soul would clash with my cool, analytic Virgoan approach. We would argue many times, but never lost sight of the respect and affection we had for each other.
I spoke with him a few days before he passed on and had an email exchange about a new project the evening before he left us.
I miss, and will miss, him greatly. He was truly a wildly generous, crazy, loving, maddening, big-hearted friend.
Rest in Peace Jonathan.
Your friend, always,