Sunday, 11 February 2018

FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND





Perhaps it did not snow deep in the woods as mourners trod the time-worn path to the funeral of a friend. Perhaps there were not drifts and flurries to muffle misery, nor icy ground, though I had longed for them, maybe imagining an arctic setting for this tragic farewell. It only drizzled, and there were signs of life around the graves that would receive him; the shoots of coming daffodils against grey, ancient stone. He would have liked that.
That Nick Fitzherbert was a vibrant, exceptional, generous and dutiful man could be in no doubt from the eulogies that followed. We all knew this from having known him while he lived. Which was why we gathered, gripped in grief, remembering, giving thanks and doing ritualistic things while wondering for the life of us why he was taken.
Cancer is the grimmest reaper. He has scythed away the best in recent times. I remembered them yesterday, a roll-call of brilliant boys who were seized too soon: Roger Scott, Rob Lee, Nick Gordon, Charles Armitage, Jim Diamond, David Bowie. Men who changed my life and those of countless others, irrevocably. In the end, I had thought, there is always Nick. But now there isn't.
Many knew him better, for longer; had greater claim and more right to grieve. That there was standing room only in the church of his childhood was proof enough of his worth.
Nick's thing was music. A fervent fan as a young teenager at Charterhouse School, he launched a mobile disco with his younger brother Ivan and ran it enthusiastically for years, before deciding it was time to get a proper job. He surpassed himself as a PR, as a coach of presentation skills, as an internationally-published author and even as a magician and member of the Magic Circle. But his enthusiasm for music never waned. His knowledge was unsurpassed, too. His contributions to my books were of course invaluable. He and David Stark were my most loyal gig companions. You have your work cut out now, DS.
It had been a few years since I last visited Hurtwood Park, the Surrey polo club owned and run by Jayne and Kenney Jones. How Small Faces devotee Nick would have loved that his family held his farewell there. I expect he knows.

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