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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.