The fondest of farewells to a gentle man

Crommers

BY ALASTAIR McINTYRE

THERE were tears, of course, at the funeral of Ross ‘Crommers’ Tayne … but there was also an element of farce.

It came during the singing of Praise My Soul the King of Heaven. The large congregation of mourners sang the hymn at what most people would consider the normal pace. 

The trouble was that the organist had different ideas. It could be that the tape was played too fast but it went at such a tempo that not even the most nimble-tongued of us could keep up. The result: Chaos and laughter. Ross, who had a great sense of humour, would have thoroughly enjoyed the moment.

Crommers was an exceedingly gentle man and it would seem that his death was gentle too. He passed away peacefully in his sleep at home in Wimbledon on April 4, 2017, a few days after discharging himself from hospital following treatment for a fall-related chest injury.

Ross’s friend and colleague Paul Daniel paid tribute to him at the funeral at Morden Cemetery Chapel in South-West London. He said he first met Ross, an only son who was born in  Wimbledon, on the Herts Advertiser in 1968.

His stellar career included stints on the Evening Echo, the Press Association, the Daily Express and The People. Mr Daniel quoted the publisher John Blake as saying: “Ross was the best, as good as they come, a great headline writer who was sensitive to the reporter and who greatly enhanced copy.”

Mr Daniel said: "That’s a great testimony isn’t it?”

But why was he called Crommers? Mr Daniel went on: “Alastair McIntyre insists that he coined the name. He told me that they had a P G Wodehouse appreciation society at the Express and everyone had nicknames. And Ross was Crommers, as in Ross and Cromarty.” [McIntyre was Bingo – and still is.]

Paul Daniel related a cracking story from the 1970s told to him by journalist Tony Boullemier. Ross had been driving home in his Austin A40 from a Roman fancy dress party in a highly-inebriated state. He was inevitably stopped by police and stepped out of the car wearing full toga, Roman sandals and carrying a shield.

A report of the court case in the local paper bore the headline: It’s a right Roman scandal, drunk in charge of a chariot.

Ross married his sweetheart Mandy Bruce on Cup Final Day in 1989 and they were “truly a joyful couple”. Mr Daniel was the best man at the wedding, in which the happy couple are pictured above.

Now the two lovers have been reunited in death in the same plot in Morden Cemetery, in a grave alongside that of Mandy’s mother Rosalie Bruce, who as Rosalie Shann, wrote a column for the News of the World. Mandy’s father Lee was among the mourners at the funeral.

Mandy died in 2003 and at last they are together again. It was a privilege and a delight to have known them both. They are sorely missed.

Memories of Crommers

John Blake’s tribute to Mandy Bruce

© 2005-2019 Alastair McIntyre