EULOGY – TONY FENNYMORE 14TH FEBRUARY 2007
On the occasion of his funeral at Easthamstead Cemetery and Crematorium
“SOUTH LONDON BOY - DONE GOOD”
Gara, Mia, Thurle, and Wendy – to properly Eulogise Tony in the time we have available is impossible. All I can do is to select a few joyous moments in the life of a very special person.
The measure of our love and affection for him is demonstrated today with such a large gathering. I see my role more as a Celebrant – Tony would abhor mourning – he would have wanted a party. ‘Don’t do black’, he once said.
Of course we will have our own very private thoughts and grief. I have most certainly had my share of sorrow in the last few days. But if I were to ask each of you to describe this man in just a few words, what would you say? Mischievous?, a life Enhancer?
He certainly put more in the Bank of Human Kindness than he took out. Dependable? Fun to be with? Different? Loving? Sincere? Tactile? A party animal?
I cannot ever recall anyone saying a bad word about him, can you?
Tony couldn’t simply walk in to a room, his presence preceded him. The room would explode. Picture if you will, just for one moment, a room full of people, the low murmur of conversation. Suddenly an apparition in a bush hat on top of his latest creation in fashion would explode in to the room. If He spotted you first it was fatal. Emulating the style of Steptoe Senior, he would shriek ‘Purchase, or ‘Arrold’ across the room. A bear hug, and a scrape of his beard down the sides of your face – removing at least a couple of microns of flesh.
You’re a social hand grenade Fennymore’, but yet another hug. Have you been down to the tip again to get this collection, or was it Oxfam today?
Let me take you back in time – ‘South London boy done good’ would be an appropriate epitaph.
Qualified as a Chartered Quantity Survey – itself no mean achievement. You dig deep into your personal deposit of focus, commitment, and dedication for that one. No honours for cash – just graft.
A period as a Director of a property Company, and a partnership with Kit Hepple. Neither of them suited to the corporate grindstone. Both in truth like me, unemployable.
I have known Tony for over thirty years, in business, then the Lions. He made it to President, and I enjoyed his many and varied exploits with ‘fowls’ (for the uninitiated, the Friends Of Windsor Lions). Somewhat unwittingly you found yourself sucked in to their mad ideas.
Let’s climb Snowdon in black tie and formal dinner wear for a meal on the summit. Lunch on the nudist beach at Brighton wearing only a bow tie, they had us all wearing white tie and tails mounted on massive inflatable hands, to swim out to a floating dining table in the middle of the lake in Black Park. One of the luckless waitresses is here to day - Diane - it was life threatening. All this, fund raising in the guise of having fun, and we did.
His great love of music and the arts – and his complete inability to play the drum kit that he had lovingly renovated with miles of parcel tape.
His fun times with Razzmajazz (a jazz quartet), pale blue marigolds, fingers adorned with thimbles, and knocking hell out of a disintegrating washboard. Some will remember the late night show at the Theatre Royal Windsor.? Oh God! Leave it!
One lovely moment – picture this one. An old folks party organised by the Lions. Me on electronic organ with rhythm accompaniment, and Tony on drums. ’Let’s start the show with a gentle bossanova', I say. . . ‘Girl from Ipanema’ was never going to sound like this ever again.
Arthur Smith, from Yorkshire, a dour member of Windsor Lions, and a champion cornet player with something like the Black Dyke Mills brass band, sidled up to me, lent on the organ, and announced ‘What’s he do’in?’ ‘He’s playing the drums Arthur’. ‘Aye know that, he’s playing a waltz, and you’re playin bossanovva – av you got im ‘ere for cosmetic purposes?’
No, Tony was never cosmetic - what you saw was genuine. He was a brave lad too. He set off with Ann, equally brave, in a camper van to Hania. The journey took a month in one of the hottest summers – 1994. No funds, and depressed – they lived in the camper van for months – a testing time. Between the two of them, the survivors they were, they built a new life. His love and fascination for Mycean, Minoan, Phoenecian history and archaeology was his driving force. He was much influenced by Sir Mortimer Wheeler with whom he studied. Wheeler was the David Starkey of black and white TV.
We had long telephone conversations – ‘you want to get out here Purchase, sell up and buy that luxury yacht you have always wanted. You can live like a Lord out here on a fiver a day. We could run yachting charters . . . . I very nearly succumbed.
On other occasions when he was in the UK I had a taste of his skills as a sailor. We sailed a few times together - his idea of a sailing trip was certainly not the norm. In a violent storm off the Isle of Wight he simply lashed himself to the mast, then chomped his way through raw black pudding, washed down with a stiff whisky.
His Fenny’s Tours were a magic combination of ancient Crete, the very back streets of Hania, the trips to Souda Bay or Maleme, and the magnificent south of the island.
He convinced everyone who visited him from the UK that he was fluent in Greek. He certainly could order raki, and a foul concoction called hemma, a variant of creosote which partially destroyed my brain.
With Ann he enjoyed so much – the arts and theatre clubs, and their great love for each other, and everything in life.
It seemed his pride in his family was ever present. Daughters, sons in law, and grand children, he loved you all so much. And you know it was never boring just listening to all you have achieved.
Latterly life was good, he had never been happier. A tour of his penthouse apartment was vibrant with his enthusiasm – ‘look out the window and you can see into the Queen’s bedroom – no Tony, be careful, she can see into yours!’. He and Ann were planning so much. . . . . . sadly not to be . . . . . .
The certainty in life is that there is finality. You are born, and you die. It’s the bit in between that’s important – what do you do to help others. Tony the Life Enhancer. What gifts do you bring to the table? The problem with that finality is never knowing when, not if, just when. Tony’s ‘when’ was far to soon. There was more to do, more to give, but with his contribution he leaves an indelible mark for all of us.
I have no idea if there is an after life – no one has ever returned to tell me. ‘Great up there mate ‘wowee.’, we could organise charters on the celestial chariots!’
The theologians will tell us about heaven and the after life. If there is an after life, Tony’s indomitable spirit will already be there - ‘Fenny’s Tours’ live again.
After this service you will leave this place, and perhaps take with you your very own memories.
When you get to wherever it is that you are heading, raise a glass in his memory, and ask your compatriots – ‘do you remember when. . . . . .?
Yes, I think we will all agree that this South London boy done good.
Thank you Tony
Harry Purchase 14 February 2007