Noel Chandler, Prince of Pamplona: A Tribute

Noel Chandler and Alexander Fiske-Harrison, Pamplona, July 2013 (Photo: David Penton)

Noel Chandler and Alexander Fiske-Harrison, Pamplona, July 2013 (Photo: David Penton)

It seems it is my season for tributes to dead friends: I lost a near-sister on September 14th, and a true friend one month later on October 14th. Noel Chandler, though, was a few weeks shy of his 80th birthday, where Antonia Francis died just before her 40th. There is quite a difference.

The Spanish newspapers have been suitably effusive – for example his Pamplona local Diario de Navarra headlined with Welshman Noel Chandler dies, illustrious visitor to the feria of San Fermín’. However, they all seem to have propagated certain errors, starting with his age. Noel died at 79 not 76.

For that reason among others I am pleased not only to include my own memories of Noel, interspersed with a little journalistic research (about, for example, his service in the army), but also an interview he did with the secretary of the Club Taurino of London, David Penton, for their magazine La Divisa in 2013 which I suggested someone should do before it was all forgotten. However, nothing will ever capture the man in full. As even David noted when he forwarded the piece:

I promised to send you… the Lunch with Noel article which you prompted me to do. I hope you think it does him justice. Sadly he asked me to take a number of things out – mostly related to his generosity.

I’ll raise a glass to that.

AFH

Noel John Chandler

On his way to the great encierro (Photo: Jim Hollander, 1981)

On his way to the great encierro (Photo: Jim Hollander, 1981)

15 November 1935, Newport, Wales – 14 October 2015, Madrid Spain

B.A. (Hons.) Law, University of Bristol, 1958.

Lieutenant, Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge’s Own), 1961.

Managing Director, ICL Singapore Pte Ltd. 1994.

After the corrida on the final day of my first feria de San Fermín –  July 14th, 2009 – a few hours before pobre de mí– when I was… (ahem)… tired and emotional having run with bulls that morning and drunk whatever was handed to me during the day until I had seen them killed very badly that evening, I bumped into a pretty young woman called Ivy Mix – a good name for such a famous bartender – who led me to a bar called Al Capone where in the doorway was standing Noel Chandler.

I had heard of Noel, of course, but in my research for my book Into The Arena: The World Of The Spanish Bullfight I had courteously avoided British and American aficionados as I did not want to inherit non-native prejudices or to see Spain second-hand. (The only reason I had gone to Pamplona was because my first teacher of toreo, Juan José Padilla said he would run with me and his bulls.)

Miss Mix introduced me to Noel saying I was writing a book on the world of the bulls. Noel looked into my eyes – which were a little blurry on the third day of my first Pamplona fiesta – through his own  – which were… well, he was ten days into his forty-eighth fiesta – and said:

“What the fuck do you know about bulls?” Continue reading

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EVENING STANDARD: Clive’s 50 Not Out In The City

It makes me particularly proud to see that my father’s 50th anniversary in the City of London is makes headlines courtesy of the City Editor of the capital’s great newspaper.

Evening Standard

CLIVE’S 50 NOT OUT IN THE CITY

Anthony Hilton
26th September 2012
Clive Fiske Harrison, with his then fiancée, now wife, Barbara Gail Horne, at The May Fair Hotel in London during his first year in the City, 1963, after his return from New York

Clive Fiske Harrison, with his then fiancée – now wife – the sculptor Barbara Gail Horne, at The May Fair Hotel in London during his first year in the City, 1963, after his return from New York (Photo: family archive placed in public domain)

Today saw the annual general meeting of Fiske & Co, the stockbroker and investment bank.

It also marks the day 50 years ago when Fiske’s chairman, Clive Fiske Harrison, joined Panmure Gordon, then one of the leading brokers. A fellow junior colleague in Panmure at that time was David Mayhew. He, like Fiske Harrison, has survived the intervening years of change rather better than has Panmure. (Mayhew stood down as chairman of J. P. Morgan Cazenove at the end of last year.)

In those relaxed days, the market opened at 9.30am, the partners drank gin or whisky (starting often not much later) and the office workers beer. Hardly anybody drank wine. This was of course before the 1970s market collapse, 1980s Big Bang and 1990s explosion of regulation.

But some things haven’t changed, Fiske Harrison told his shareholders. When he started in 1962, Greek bonds traded at the equivalent of 30p in the pound!

Well done, Clive! I doubt there are many of the current City take who will match your half century.

Interlude: Jules William Fiske Harrison

'The Times' of London, March 21st, '09

‘The Times’ of London, March 21st, ’09

On March 21st, following the death of the actress Natasha Richardson in a skiing accident, the front page of The Times of London was as you see it above. Giles Coren, an award-winning columnist and critic, was a school friend of my eighteen-year-old brother at the time of his death (the photographs below are from his last day) and had written a long and glowing tribute to him.

Jules William Fiske Harrison, Zermatt, April 4th, '88

Jules William Fiske Harrison, Zermatt, April 4th, ’88

Continue reading