Yesterday when I was en route to my old friend’s A funeral I received a voice message that one of my parents’ closest friends, an entrepreneurial publisher and broadcaster, had passed away last Sunday.
Now he will be in the obituary section.
Of his achievements – which included editing Punch, founding High Life, presenting World at One – for me the most remarkable was that, within 16 years of arriving in the country from Germany in 1949, he was a City Editor of the Evening Standard.
At one stage of my life, when he was seeking to extricate himself from the Maxwell Publishing empire, we were quite close.
I recall that after one dinner in a Chelsea restaurant, when enough alcohol was consumed to send me straight to sleep, he marched upstairs in his house and announced he was now writing a business plan for his new publishing enterprise.
He was not everybody’s cup of tea, most of his conversation was about himself and he could be argumentative, but there was no denying his life force which extended to nearly his 86th year.
He was a regular attender of my mother’s dinner parties where he held forth. My mother would observe that dinner parties without him were never as stimulating. My father at the other end of the table was his doctor and lifelong friend. My father could not resist gently ribbing him. I remember him (my father) arguing that a newspaper was not a social service, it must make a profit. He was preaching to the converted.
As for the funeral I attended, my friend’s two sons delivered an eloquent and moving eulogy.
I was pleased that amongst the hymns and readings , his two sons at one of their most difficult times in their lives could deliver such a personal, appropriate and moving eulogy.