Many years ago, I stood outside a wedding marquee sipping some water and going over in my mind the best man's speech I was to give a couple of hours later. I had long since discovered the perils of imbibing too much before such occasions and was determined that this one would go well. A cheery fellow suddenly appeared and thrust a glass of champagne in my free hand,.
'How is it going, all sorted for the speech?'.
'Well,' I said, 'Yes, but I'm unusually nervous. Toughest crowd I've ever faced. I've never spoken in front of a couple of hundred solicitors, barristers, QC's and judges before.'.
'Don't worry old boy,' he said. 'Half of them will be pissed and the other half will just be pleased it's you and not them up there. It'll all be fine.... cheers!'.
That man was the irrepressible David Batcup. David was cruelly snatched from us last week, a casualty of a high speed hit and run incident in South London. To call David a close friend would be wide of the mark but I was fortunate enough to share many lunches and dinners with him over the past twenty five or so years with our mutual chum who was the groom that day. David was always a joy to break bread with. His ebullient presence never ceased to lift those around him and his unflagging enthusiasm and interest in everyone he met was an example to us all in how to behave and conduct ourselves. .
When I worked in an office close to the Old Bailey I would occasionally bump into him in the street, pulling along his case on wheels containing his robes and files as all the barristers tend to do. He started every sentence with, 'I'm late......' before spending the next ten minutes inquiring after my wellbeing and that of the family. David was an utter and complete gentleman. 'Life has been the richer for knowing him,' is a somewhat overplayed phrase but in David's case it seems totally inadequate. .
His loss is a wretched thing. I find no mitigation or comfort in platitudes. The memory of the man however, is warm and affectionate and will always be so.