I’m going to read a short letter to Norman that I have written with the help
of the very many people who have kindly shared their thoughts and memories
in recent days.  It is a letter that alas can never be sent, and yet I am sure
Norman is here with us now, watching and listening.

Dear Norman,

How hard it is for us to know that you have gone, and especially that there
is now no longer a Taylor at the timpani of the Royal Opera House.  For all
of us drummers in particular, you were what we aspired to be both professionally
and as a human being, strongly testified to by the demand for your services by
opera houses, theatres, symphony orchestras, session fixers and so on.  And
yet you wore your gifts lightly and humbly, and without demonstration.

There was never a dull moment when you were around – always some anecdote
to keep us amused, an impersonation of  a wobbly tenor or a famous conductor,
Sir Charles Mackerras asking for harder sticks being my favourite.  On tour,
you would always be the first to lend money to us inexperienced souls who had
managed to blow the entire week’s subsistence on the first meal – and then you
refused to accept later repayment.  Generous, optimistic, trustworthy, versatile,
reassuring, supportive, understanding – these are just some of the words we have
been hearing again and again since your untimely passing.

And indeed, we have all been asking ourselves why?  Why have you gone, aged just 62? 
Possibly the most likely explanation is that the Heavenly Philharmonic is full of tee-totallers
and principal timpanist Alan Taylor just couldn’t wait for you any longer.  What a reunion
you two will be having – after all, you were together at Covent Garden for over 30 years. 
The Taylor partnership was one of those living legends that we thought would be there forever,
and those of us that remain must consider ourselves blessed to have that experience
and those memories.

We always marvelled at how you could spot a long weekend in Spain from within the
incredibly complicated Opera House schedule, a gift now possessed by only one of the
section.  As the “keeper of the wages” you would quickly pounce on any discrepancy :
last December, even though worn out from undergoing treatments for your illness, you
still spotted an omission of a hundred pounds that none of us had noticed.

There is no doubt that you were one of the good guys.  We have lost a dear and cherished
friend,  a true colleague, a world-class performer, and you will be forever in our thoughts. 
Perhaps today isn’t really a final goodbye, but just a longer break before our next session.  

A quotation springs to mind : “If you would seek his monument, look around you.”  Dear
Norman, your monument is not made of stone, or brick, or glass.  It is made of living,
loving people – your family and your friends.  It is all of us.  

Signing off now, with our love and affection -
we will miss you so very much.

[Click BACK to return to the home page]