It is not often that we publish a memorial for one of our commenters, but anyone who has been a regular reader of this blog for at least a year or two will remember David Horry, who posted as Horryd while we were on LiveJournal, and as Meldrew on the current site.
While Horry’s comments could be brilliant, he was an inveterate prankster who liked to stir things up. On several occasions, I had to send him a stern email telling him not to get carried away. Since I enjoy this type of banter and needling, and appreciate colorful characters, I always let him off with a warning. And I must say, after receiving such a warning, Horry was nice as pie….for a week or two, anyway.
Thanks to Giles Keeble, I was able to obtain the following full obituary, written by David Brown. I would like to thank Mr Brown for giving permission to republish in TfTT.
The death of David Horry, at the age of 73, has robbed advertising of one of the last of its great mavericks. Undisciplined, disheveled, disruptive, he was nevertheless responsible for some of the most garlanded ads of the 1970s and 80s – Fiat Strada, Silk Cut “Zulu”, and Whitbread Trophy Beer.
Over his forty years in the business, Horry (always “Horry”, never “David”) worked at a number of prominent agencies, but it was at CDP that he found his spiritual home and produced his most distinctive work. Here, the directors recognized his zany thinking, playing to his strengths and happily encouraging him, in his own words, to “arse about”.
Nominally an art director, he openly admitted he lacked the attention to detail and the “eye” of peers like Neil Godfrey and Ron Collins. Consigning one of his layouts to the bin, Tony Brignull is reputed to have wailed “Horry, the only thing you can draw is a f***ing salary.” Far from being dismayed, Horry complimented Brignull on a witty line and treasured it.
Reluctant to tackle any brief until the Times crossword puzzle had been completed, he could sorely test the patience of his writing partners. Setting down to work, his attention span was minimal. “I like to wander around the agency because I can’t bear to be in the same room for more than ten minutes at a time.” Lunch was an opportunity to gather an audience and regale it with his “loop” – a fund of well-worn Horry stories that he never tired of telling. Rarely was he in a hurry to get back to his desk. “How does he get away with it?” was a familiar cry from outsiders. The simple answer is that he was a stimulating presence, a catalyst for humour, the Butlins’ Red Coat of the agency. Entertainment was his first priority, and it perfectly reflected CDP’s philosophy. Consistently turning out work that was wacky and memorable, his excesses were readily forgiven.
Nowhere was he more at home than on location shoots. He approached them with the glee of a ten-year-old released from school and given a licence to misbehave. So much so, that diversions were often created to keep him away from the set. On a Shredded Wheat shoot in Spain, he was giving the bogus task of painting petrol pumps that were never meant to be featured. It kept him busy and out of the director’s hair for a whole week. Japes, played by him and against him, were the stuff of legends. Invited to contribute 1000 words on his days at CDP, he ignored any ads and chose to concentrate on “wind-ups and scams.” Pride of place went to the boarding-up and camouflaging of a planner’s office ( a week-end’s work) and the filming of the hapless victim’s face as he arrived on Monday morning. Horry viewed it as one of the highlights of his career and immediately posted the clip on YouTube.
He had famously said that “Undisciplined works for me. Why be sensible?” But by the mid-1990s, advertising was changing. Its mad-cap days were over, and Horry was forced to adapt. He took a senior creative role at WCRS and then a creative directorship at Still-Price Lintas. Whether or not he enjoyed the nitty gritty and responsibility that came with the positions is debatable. His general dislike of meetings hardly helped. He went on to direct commercials, and then move to the Far East, working first at Saatchi and then at O and M. Tracking him down at the office was never easy – he was usually to be found at home.
Philately was the only subject he ever took seriously. A long-time member of the Royal Philatelic Society, he was a regular contributor to Gibbons Stamp Monthly and The British Caribbean PSG Journal. He also produced two books: “The Unissued Stamps of George V” and “An Encyclopaedia of West Indies Postmarks”. Former colleagues were surprised – not to say astonished – by both. They were meticulously researched and painstakingly crafted – exhibiting qualities Horry had hitherto kept under wraps.
Hearing of Horry’s final illness, Tony Brignull asked “Does Horry know how much he’s loved?” It’s hard to imagine he didn’t at least have an inkling. Wherever he went, everyone – chairmen, the boys in the mail room, tea ladies – would greet him with open arms and genuine warmth. They knew a laugh wouldn’t be long in coming, and (another favorite Horry line) the tears would be streaming down their legs.
Horry leave a wife, Lilian, in Shanghai and three children in the UK. “All my children” he had said, “are more grown-up than myself.”