Those of you who can remember the nineties will surely remember Henry Davenport, the irascible veteran newsreader who was one of the stars of the Drop the Dead Donkey comedy series.
Henry was forever railling against something – technology, the passing of time, his ex-wives – and yet extremely happy in his work and seemingly contented with what he had achieved in his life.
A few years ago I changed jobs and went to work for a very small firm in Twickenham. There were only about half a dozen of us working there, one of whom was Nick, the elder brother of one of the proprietors.
Nick was on holiday when I began work, so I think it was about three weeks before I actually met him. But when he did show up, he certainly knew how to make an entrance. He would roll in around 10am, yell at the computer, complain that he couldn’t find whatever it was he needed and then get on with the serious business of the day – which in his case was charming clients, confounding opponents and generally being very good at his job.
Until about midday, that is. Then Nick – and often his brother Bob – would disappear off for lunch, returning a couple of hours later for more work, more cursing at computers and more charming of other people.
The first time I met Nick, I went home and said to my wife “I think I’ve just met Henry Davenport” and I couldn’t have been closer to the truth, really. Like Henry, Nick was a great character with a heart of gold and a love of life. Unlike Henry, though, he doted on – and was doted on by – a number of very attractive daughters, who had supplied him with equally attractive grandchildren.
Very sadly, Nick died earlier this month. It was very sudden, but also the way that I feel he wanted to go out – at the height of his powers and without being a burden to anyone. His funeral is today. Everyone who knew him will miss him greatly, myself included.