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Swellboy on… the death of a friend

The melancholy business of burying a friend

Swellboy on… the death of a friend

Image: Brijesh Patel

November 11 2010
Nick Foulkes

It took about five hours by car and train to get across Italy to Turin, but I had to be there; in case you were wondering, Italian rail travel is not particularly fast, but it is cheap.

I don’t visit the city of the Dukes of Savoy, the Princes of Piedmont, the Kings of Sardinia and The Italian Job nearly enough. It is spacious, gracious and well planned with miles of elegantly arcaded pavements, and generously proportioned squares. But I was not in much of a mood to appreciate the urban planning: I was in town for the melancholy business of burying a friend.

Gino Macaluso, whose funeral it was, was a gentleman, a great friend and, although he would have been embarrassed to hear me saying so, a great man too. I got to know him through the watch business: he owned Girard-Perregaux, which he took from being a second-division brand and put it into the Champions League. However he was much more than a leading figure in the watch industry, as the breadth and density of attendance at his funeral in the cavernous church of Saint Massimo testified.

Sitting there listening to various funeral addresses, all the usual carpe diem clichés occurred to me: and then I realised that the space left in one’s life by the death of a good friend is the most powerful monument to them and a reminder of what they meant in life.