Lives Remembered: Ian Dunlop

 

Ian Dunlop, who has died aged 83, once described himself as "a crouton floating on top of life's soup". Croutons can go soggy; this one added texture and taste to the dish. He inhabited Soho, a destiny unforeseen at the outset.

His father, an old soldier, died when he was eight; Ian went to prep school, then Wellington and Sandhurst. A later career of studied fecklessness – "Ian's never done a thing but prop up the bar at the French" – was notable for witty insights gleaned from august origins.

He scarpered to France whenever someone else paid, as if it were still a refuge for sexual miscreants or from creditors. He'd find his "French" in the old town of Nice or port at Antibes, where patrons claimed to have served in the maquis or operated as maquereaux. His favourite author was Céline; he translated a play by Crebillon fils.

The stage Englishman persona was many-flavoured. Dunlop was an old Scottish clan; maternal antecedents had been Southern gentlemen, one straying north to join Jay Gould in Wall Street manipulations. Ian played the London property market in the 1950s, associating with Peter Rachman. He knew where bodies were buried.

He spoke German and seasoned aperçus with how the old foe might see it. He skewered pretentions, but rarely without lightness of being. His smile was wicked but punctuated by the blowing of a kiss or waving of fingers in air. Being twitted by Ian felt like being hazed into a fraternity.

Women were many, and disappointments. Ejection from home after his father's death dented faith in mother-love. His career as rake after Sandhurst earned repute for mistreating one deb and being wounded by another. Englishwomen avoided, he married into a Genovese family; Italophilia did not survive it. He settled with an Australian of Oriental and Irish stock; she worked in publishing and saw the point of his peculiar intelligence. Jenny became Ian's support, Ian Jenny's trophy.

They lived in a flat above Old Compton Street. The French was nearby in one direction, the Italian grocery in another. Blacks appeared round the corner, the Academy some streets away. Regulars would tramp upstairs for afternoon bridge between noon drinks and long evening libations. Shelter was given to strays. Newcomers to Soho found fatherly guidance to its eccentricities.

Crumbling with ailments, Ian evoked affection from those able to see his rare worth. This helped him evade death's door for decades. Jenny survived years of cancer; neither stopped smoking, both continued to drink from midday 'til midnight. They went south in the winter and set up in "sunny places for shady people". When Jenny succumbed, Ian was expected to follow. In the event, he floated on top of the soup three years more, vivified by a younger, last protégé.

Leaving a birthday party, he suffered a fall. He was taken to hospital, a bourne from which he'd returned so often. The no longer quite so mean streets of Soho become less grand with his passing.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Getty
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

MIDDLE EAST CURRENT AFFAIRS OFFICER

£27,000-£34,000 per annum: US Embassy: An office of the US Embassy based in Be...

BALTIC CURRENT AFFAIRS OFFICER

£27,000-£34,000 per annum: US Embassy: An office of the US Embassy London base...

Bid Manager, London

£45000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: Charter Selection are working wi...

Marketing Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Charter Selection: Charter Selection are working wi...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor