David Horry, 1949-2023

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.”




45 comments on “David Horry, 1949-2023”

    1. Personally, I’d say the best way to sell the Strada was by not showing the car in the ad…

  1. I had a lot to do with horryd over the years, perhaps most memorably policing him together with galspray when his (horryd’s) goat got a bit too mischievous. Although he had a cruel streak, which he aimed at some on the site and got us admins discussing his future participation, I was always in favour of giving him one more chance, and he seemed to mellow towards the end.

    Of course, he lived and worked where I have lived for 35 years, Hong Hong, for a few years in the late 90s, famously being banned from ever again re-entering Malaysia after one visit – according to his own story, which one tended to believe.

    A character he certainly was – probably impossible to live with unless you came from a different culture and spoke a different language. It might be a cliche, but TfTT will be a poorer place without him.

  2. Thanks for posting this, Vinyl. I had a back channel to horryd via email but that only came about very late in the piece however I knew the end was nigh from one of those emails which he also sent to galspray. I really enjoyed his imaginative comments and a couple of publications he put together which he sent to me. I’m just saddened I didn’t get to know him earlier.
    RIP horryd/Meldrew.

  3. I came relatively late to the Horryd party, but this is how I imagined he would have been from his comments and my interactions with him. A life well lived

  4. Thank you for posting the obituary.
    I always looked out for his comments on TfTT and I will miss them for their wit, knowledge and sense of fun.
    RIP David (but I suspect that you are taking pleasure in disrupting any peace).

  5. I am so sad and surprised to read this but also touched that you took the time and space to remember him and a reminder that there are people behind the pixels and that we do spend time together and build relationships even if it’s five minutes every day.

    He did love to educate me as soon as any opportunity arose and sometimes his assumptions about me got my goat, but most of the time I did learn something. For all of his condescension towards me, he could be relied upon to interact with me and answer any questions I may have had.

    His life living in Asia and learning and teaching the arts (and marrying a much younger woman) seemed very romantic to me and very far away from my own life and I did appreciate the idea that a blog like this could bring us together and found it incredible that we might share a hobby.

    Thanks for posting this Vinyl.

  6. I too shall miss his irreverence and windups. In a number of exchanges with him he provoked and amused in equal measure. Thank you for posting his obituary. A life well lived. Condolences to his family and friends.

  7. Thank you for letting us know, Vinyl. His comments on this blog kept us wide awake, but I had no idea about his career.

  8. I first became a regular member of this group after meeting up with keriothe, Verlaine, johninterred, Bolton Wanderer, davidivad1 and others at The George during one of The Times Crossword championships. I was an intermittent solver then and occasional visitor to this site. To encourage me to become a more regular solver keriothe suggested I got into the habit of posting my solving time here each day, which I duly did. In fact that was all I did. Just a solving time or a DNF.

    Well horryd lived up to his homophonic self and gave me a public dressing down for my brevity. I was annoyed initially but after some reflection recognised that he had a point. If the site was just a string of numbers it wouldn’t be the lively place that it is. I did wonder though what made him think he had the right to be playground enforcer! He must have caused a few headaches for the actual moderators here over the years!

    Quite a character. RIP horryd. 😀

  9. I’ve never scrolled past a Horryd post and so I’ve missed his comments on the QC these last few months. I’d noticed he was still around on the 15×15 and hoped he might return. Alas. Thanks for the fun and the aggravation.

  10. What a character. I always read and enjoyed his comments and thought he is either seriously clever or an AI programme.

    He also interacted with newbies to the main puzzle. I thought it was odd not seeing him for a while but he used to take self enforced sabbaticals.
    RIP horryd.

  11. I’m a relative newcomer on this blog but I quickly came to regard Horryd’s contributions as one of the highlights. I was never victim myself but I can see how some of his comments might have rubbed people up the wrong way- though, if I’m honest, the ensuing spats sometimes added to the fun. Hats off to the administrators for managing this unpredictable contributor so well.

    Thank you vinyl for posting this fine obituary which was a pleasure to read and somehow makes his departure a little sadder.

  12. In the early days with the “former guy” in the White House Horryd regularly used to launch zingers in that direction – with which I fully concurred. However, as Vinyl rightly pointed out at the time, we don’t do politics here and Horryd did some penance for that a while back. He also had a strange masochistic habit of watching Fox & Friends – something I could never do but he would bring back weird reports from that world. No one else ever addressed me as “the Lady Olivia” and now no one ever will. I thought of him when I looked at my jar of Marmite this morning.

  13. Thank you Vinyl for sharing this very sad news.
    I was perhaps fortunate to catch Horryd in a good mood, and recieved a few kind comments when I first started playing this game. His posts were invariably ‘entertaining’ in one way or another, and we have certainly lost a colourful character. RIP

  14. I’d noticed he’d gone missing. From the QC to begin with, and then the 15×15.

    I enjoyed his comments.


  15. Thanks for posting this. It is strange to feel a tinge of sadness , as I do, on the passing of someone I scarcely knew.

  16. I don’t often contribute to the blog (because I often struggle to finish) but Horryd did reply, nicely, on one occasion. I felt honoured. RIP

  17. What an amusing, and interesting person Horryd seems to have been. It was good to hear about his life – thanks for posting the obituary Vinyl. I always looked forward to his comments, as they usually produced a smile, sometimes the occasional groan.
    RIP Horryd

  18. Thanks for posting this Vinyl. I always got on well with him, although I was sometimes dismayed by the way he’d pick on certain contributors. He was indeed an interesting character and we are poorer for his passing. RIP Meldrew/Horryd.

  19. Thank you for posting this. It is nice to see the full man behind what could sometimes be quite direct contributions to TfTT.

  20. I was lucky never to get on the wrong side of horryd, and indeed had some very entertaining and occasionally illuminating exchanges with him. When he wasn’t being a bit too harsh, he could be hilarious, but in his own way, he always seemed interested in everyone around here. I remember exchanging a few bits of GK with him a while ago, and he commented that he loved learning new facts and bits of trivia. Clearly a man who always had a zest for life.
    I too wondered why he had not been posting recently – so sorry to hear that we won’t see one of his many avatars popping up again. Thank you for letting us know Vinyl. Condolences to his family.

  21. I was disproportionately sad this morning to hear of Horryd’s passing. I never met or spoke to him, but we often commented on each other’s posts on this forum and it’s predecessor. I shall miss him, and his acerbic wit, which nearly always made me smile. Condolences to his friends and family.

  22. Thanks from me too Vinyl.

    I guess if you are born Horry D then you have a reputation to live up to 🙂

    Will be much missed. Reading obituaries always makes we wish we don’t have to wait for the Grim Reaper to celebrate the many amazing lives we sometimes only tangentally come across

  23. I remember first being alerted to the acerbic side of Horryd when someone had the temerity to refer to him as ‘horrid’. He announced in no uncertain terms that he was not horrid, but Horryd, as he had been christened David Horry and he and his brother were known as Horry, J and Horry, D at their boarding school. ‘What were his parents thinking of?’ I mused, and figured he’d have had to be quite a character to overcome that particular childhood disadvantage. Thereafter I always looked out for his musings and comments, whether fascinating or completely obscure to the general reader, referring to people or drinking holes we’d never heard of. I missed him in recent months and wondered if he’d gone walkabout in self-imposed exile, so was distressed to learn of his passing. A witty, talented individual who will be sorely missed by this community.

  24. Thank you for sharing. My fond memories from his numerous posts were that he was so clever, quick witted and thoroughly enjoyed stirring things up.

  25. Thank you for posting David Horry’s obit. I “jointly” solve the weekend crosswords and mostly check for parsing on Saturdays and Sundays. I had noticed missing comments from Horryd/Meldrew and was sad to hear the news. Thank you to those who added additional spice to the obituary. RIP

  26. He once said to me “perhaps the QC isn’t for you” – he’s right, of course, I just haven’t given up. Yet.

  27. Thank you for letting us know. Sometimes ascerbic, sometimes rude, always direct, he must have been a handful for those managing this site. But sometimes the idiosyncratic character can be appreciated for their brilliance, and humoured. I had wondered at his occasional self-exiles and wondered whether he had medical problems to face. Sad news.

  28. Why is it that nice people die?
    I will.miss his comments and if one believes in the after life someone will be on the wrong end of his jokes.

  29. What a lovely obit. It was at his suggestion that I went for the L-Plates moniker. This was before I realised he was taking the p… 😁

  30. I just saw this mentioned in the comments on Vinyl’s entry for today’s 15×15, and am glad to be able to join the moving memorial service still in progress.

    Over there, Leskoffer offers a link to a page with a podcast interview with Horry and much else besides. https://davedye.com/2023/01/12/podcast-horry/comment-page-1/#comment-13098.

    It is always very sad to lose a friend, and it didn’t take me long to discover that he was (actually! Ha) one of mine.

  31. Sad news. Like others, I have missed his comments. I’m not sure I ever crossed swords with him on here, but I do recall his advice to Ian and L-Plates. By the sounds of it, a life lived to the full.

    Thanks for the posting.

  32. I was saddened by this news of Horryd’s passing. Although I thought his comments occasionally crossed the line, my impression is that there was much more of mischief than of malice in him. There is no doubt that he made a significant contribution to the life of this blog. It was interesting to read of his achievements in his professional life.

  33. Horryd was a true maverick. We discovered quite early in our exchanges that we had started life on the same side of the country – he in Skegness, me further north in Hull – and a little bond was made. Sometimes he would have a dig at me, but usually I deserved it. When we crossed swords, it was always with humour – never with malice. I wish I could have met him.

  34. Sorry to hear of his passing. We crossed swords several times, did not know anything of his history.

  35. Very sad to hear this. He was one of the most distinctive voices of our collective blog – as likely to raise a tut and a disapproving sigh as much as a laugh – but seeing which it would be on any particular day was one of the reasons to keep coming back.

  36. A lovely obit, giving colour to a most colourful character. I really enjoyed his mischievous sense of humour, and was routinely entertained by his comments. Will miss him. RIP Horryd

  37. Thanks for relaying the obituary Vinyl1. I knew him only by his posts on TfTT. The obituary fills out my sketch. I await Astronowt’s requiem limerick.
    Horryd, you are already missed.

  38. I remember Horry with affection. He was such a zany hilarious character who always put a smile on my face. Loved his “wild” hair!

  39. Horry was a philatelic mentor to me and helped my understanding on several rather obscure topics. I miss him greatly.
    FWIW, the obit failed to mention a third book he wrote, “The Encyclopaedia of Ceylon Postmarks”, published in 2010.

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