Yesterday I went to Rusilip crematorium for the farewell to Dennis Turner. It was a secular service presided over by a humanist and entirely caught the man. A man passionate about his music, he would have been pleased to say goodbye to the planet to the sounds of Joe Cocker and Van Morrison.
The life of Dennis, though tragically curtailed, was by any standards a successful one. From boyhood supporter on the old terraces, he became the club historian and a director. He was much sought after as a brilliant speaker on economics. His son Rob gave us a moving tribute of a supportive dad. When a holiday went wrong, Dennis said “Come back – I will be there at the airport whatever time”. Quite a promise, given his commitment and schedule, but he was there.
Old Fulham gathered to say our goodbyes at the reception at Sandy Lodge Golf Club. I chatted to Kit Symons, a cheerful man with no side who has nurtured his young charges at the Academy so capably. Les Strong and Tony Gale, whose company is always entertaining. It’s such a huge loss to our club just when we needed good not sad news.
I had to return to central London. The mini cab company decided to cancel my booking and when it arrived, some 1 hour after promised, the driver thought I was going to Rickmansworth. It became clear he had picked up the wrong passenger and I had to intervene in a row between him and his controller as we made minimal progress down the A40. “What a country!” I thought. Rain was submerging much of the West Country, a tube strike had paralysed transport and a mini cab company, presented with a day to make real business, could not even deal with one passenger going to central London, though they charged enough for it. A strange thought passed by me. I would call Dennis in the morning to say all went went well, but for the journey back. Dennis would have some statistic on days lost through strikes whilst berating our performance against Sheffield United. Sadly, the conversation could now never take place . There would be no more conversations with one of the great conversationalists and all our lives were the poorer for that.