Thursday, 17 December 2015


Let's Say Goodbye Like We Said Hello
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We head hunted him, back in the '80s, either from Alain Charles Publishing or from Middle East Comms magazine. I can't remember which. He was hugely talented and just too happy to be an easy catch. You always look for discontentment when you're poaching people and Dominic appeared far from discontented. Ace ad salesman by day, jazz singer by night. He loved gigging, had a huge voice made for belting out those big Rat Pack numbers. We plotted his acquisition and by chance came across a terrible weakness for BMWs. One red 5 series later and the boy was ours, the new ad manager for Arabian Computer News and Communications Midde East Africa magazines. God help me, but I was his publisher.

Dominic De Souza closed a sale like nobody else I knew, he had a killer instinct for it. One minute you'd be arguing with a marketing manager about why a 6 series of DPSs was the way to go, the next SLAM the guy was signing the order, his eyes all glassy and Dom holding the form straight for him, a manic crocodile grin plastered all over that big face. On our first trip to Saudi together, for some reason best know to himself, he insisted on telling everyone he was Brazilian, although he was brought up in Africa to Goan merchant parents.

When he was a kid in Kenya, some other kids tried to steal his prize kazoo. Dominic rubbed a red chilli on the mouthpiece and let them take it. He had that side to him, had a real mean streak if he thought he was being treated unfairly. And he could be pretty vengeful. Goaded on by his amour at the time, he abandoned his quiet wee wife for an affair with his ad sales exec, he took to demanding raises and more status. He got into the habit of bursting into the office and flinging his BMW keys down in dramatic mock resignations. And then one day, the keys got quietly accepted. He didn't know what to do. It was one of those 'You're not serious' moments. Oh, yes, we are.

I suppose legal reasons would prevent telling the whole sorry tale, but he set up in competition to us and we sued him for stealing our database. It got fairly messy, house arrests in Dubai and the like ensued. Much acrimony followed, quite a lot of recrimination and a lot of rumour and larceny. Out of all this, he founded Dubai based publishing company Corporate Publishing International or CPI as it came to be known. Years later I ran into him late at night and alone, beleaguered and somewhat the worse for wear outside The Lodge (remember the Lodge, folks?), where the bouncer wouldn't let him in because he 'wasn't a member' which translated to 'looked Indian'. It was a ticketed event and I had a spare, which I gave him. The bouncer tore it up in his face and told him to sling his hook in demotic Anglo Saxon. He was like a lost puppy and in that sad, lonely moment, we buried the hatchet.

He used to call Sarah 'Sazzypops'. He laughed like rolling thunder and sang like an angel. He was always running away from himself, launching new escapades and eating life up like a great big life eating thing. The energy was exhausting, his big hands constantly embracing madcap schemes and rescuing lost causes. He never turned his back on someone in need, having been alienated and marginalised himself. He fell in love with Marmosets and suddenly his house, life and conversation were packed with monkeys of every shade and size. His flamboyance was legendary, from a taste in 'purple' suits to announcing to Reuters that he was going to launch a magazine about  dead celebrities called 'Goodbye'. They ran with the story. No sense of humour, journalists.

Latterly, he fell prone to a dicky heart. Last night he was singing at the BBC Good Food Awards and keeled over on stage. Today, he's gone.

1 comment:

Tony Morbin said...

Nice words for a really lovely man. Really one of the good guys. When I was editor of Computer News Middle East, in the Alain Charles days, when Arabian Computer News was the bitter rival (and if I wrote about the dirty tricks I'd get sued - again) - Dom was just such a driving force, keeping things going when it seemed it might have been easier to quit. But while he loved his work, he loved life more - a real wine, women and song kind of guy, with real heart and desire to help everyone. I'd not spoken for a couple of years, since he rang to try and get me back out to the Middle East, and its my loss for not at least staying in touch, but I don't know if I could have coped - last time he'd led an invasion of my hotel room with the gang at the time, as the bars were all shut, their mini-bars emptied and they were after mine, with Dom waking me (asleep clothed on my bed) by setting light to my socks. And it didn't seem strange at the time. He was crazy, he lived life to the full, and he will be hugely missed by everyone who knew him - sorry for the cliche but its really true.
Tony Morbin

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