I have just come back from my friend Frank’s memorial service. It was the first memorial service I have ever been to, but I suppose from now on they will be as frequent as 21st birthday parties were twenty years ago.
It was a moving and actually quite uplifting event. David Cameron (or Dishy Dave as I prefer to call him) read one of Frank’s most brilliant columns from The Times in 1983. His friend Stephen Glover spoke movingly and amusingly about him and almost cried when he told us there are countless times he forgets he’s gone and almost picks up the phone to discuss some political event or other with him.
The church of St Clements in the Strand was packed. Rupert remarked that he doesn’t think he actually knows as many people as were gathered there today to remember the great man.
Not surprisingly, as Frank was a political sketch writer, there were lots of politicians: Norman Lamont, Norman Tebbit, David Owen. Mainly tories of course, as Frank was more to the right than left. Our friend Jonathan remarked that the right-hand side of the church was more popular than the left.
A singer called Sir Willard White sang Prince Gremin’s aria from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. His voice was remarkable; it filled every corner of the church, quite one of the most unforgettable arias I have ever heard live. Frank loved opera and I wished he could have heard it.
The first hymn we sang had a line in it we repeated several times that said: Endless is the vict’ry thou o’er death has won. I know you’re meant to try to be all pragmatic when faced with death and pretend the people are still around but they’re not. And the victory would have been if he’d beaten the cancer and lived on.
Meanwhile there is still no news on Maddy. Today someone offered a £1 million reward for news leading to her safe return. I really hope this makes a difference. The latest news is that her poor mother is ill. I’m not surprised. I feel ill and I didn’t even know her.
Sorry to be focused on death and despair. I hope there will be good news on Maddy soon and my black mood will lift. Of course Frank would not have wanted anyone to be sad today. He had an amazing capacity to laugh at almost anything. And through all the years of his illness he never once complained or showed any self-pity. An example to us all. So I shall stop moping around and get on with writing something more amusing.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007