NEWS » Ciro (Giri/Geri) Ciccone RIP
Ciro (Giri/Geri) Ciccone RIP
Born in Summer Street, Clerkenwell on 28 June 1926, Dad was the youngest of four siblings Frank, Silvio and Rosa. Dad and Rosa lost their brothers Frank and Silvio early in life and the two of them remained very close throughout their long lives.
Early years were typified by the “luxury” of a weekly bath at Merlin Street public baths with Dad often reminiscing the call of “more hot water for number 3 please”!
In 1939, at the age of 13, Dad left school to start a long life in business.
During the war years Dad was always the first to set up camp for the family in the London Underground stations to protect them from the incessant bombing. Twice during the war their family homes were destroyed by bombs. When Dad was called up for military service his father said to him “The Ciccones have never been heroes so don’t start now!” – he didn’t disappoint his father!!
With his brother, Silvio, Dad opened a number of successful restaurants and snack bars in the City of London known as “Silvio’s”. After Silvio passed away Dad continued to expand the businesses for the benefit of all his immediate family and his brother and sisters-in-law and their families. Dad was always very supportive, too, to any of his employees who had the spirit and desire to “go their own way”.
Providing excellent quality and value for money was a fundamental principle for Dad. Proof of the success of his approach was typified by recognition by Harrods who invited Dad to supply their famous food store with fresh sandwiches daily and by two leading firms of London Solicitors (Clifford Chance and Linklaiters) who asked Dad to set up and run their in-house staff canteens.
Dad’s modesty was behind his decision to refuse the honour of being granted the Freedom of The City of London – he was not a man to seek attention.
The most important people in his life:
Whilst developing the catering businesses Dad also found the energy in the evenings to help with the family Bookmaking businesses at Wembley and Haringey.
Despite working all these hours he still found the time to socialise a little and, in 1953, Mum and Dad started courting, leading to their engagement and marriage. With his usual generosity he scrimped and saved to buy Mum’s treasured engagement ring.
Dad was not, at first, totally appreciated by his in-laws. Whilst courting Mum, he initially showered her with flowers and boxes of chocolates. As time went by his, then future, mother-in-law remarked to Mum that the boxes seemed to be getting smaller and less frequent. When Mum mentioned this to Dad, he simply replied, “Well, when you open the boxes you only let me have one and then give the rest to your mother!”
On 12 June 1955 Mum and Dad began 58 years of blissful married life being blessed with daughter Lisa and son Peter then, subsequently, by son-in-law Tonino, daughter-in-law Simonetta and step-grandchildren Federika and Giordano.
“I’m not always right, but I’m never wrong!” was one of Dad’s sayings. The one time he did admit he was wrong was when, through pride, he refused the gift of a car from his in-laws as a wedding gift. He finally grudgingly accepted and, in later years, he admitted “I can see now that I was possibly wrong with my stubbornness and pride there!”
His Generous and Charitable nature:
“Son – you’ve looked after everybody in the family now concentrate on your own family” – Dad’s father had to tell Dad to think about himself rather than always putting others first. However Dad’s nature was to help anybody in any way he could.
The Cannon Street train disaster was just one example of Dad’s character when he donated his total stock of sandwiches, rolls and other foodstuffs to provide a constant supply of hot and cold drinks and food to the helpers and survivors of that tragedy. The Salvation Army formally recognised his generosity. Similarly, with his great friend Mario Bifulco, they set up fund raising events for Earthquake victims in Southern Italy, their efforts being recognised by The Italian Government with a special presentation.
After his retirement at the age of 73 Dad became a volunteer driver for the North London Hospice driving, in his words, “the old people”, to their different appointments – this he continued until very recently.
Throughout his life he strived to provide the best possible lifestyle for his family including numerous lovely holidays across the world. Post-retirement, Cruises gave him and Mum great pleasure. There was one life-threatening and particularly scary experience! In 1996 Mum (who doesn’t swim and is scared of water) and Dad were enjoying a cruise when the ship hit a reef. There was a very real possibility of the ship sinking and the call to abandon ship was imminent. “Give me your ring and jewellery,” said Dad to Mum, “you can’t swim”! We think he was joking – Mum remains unconvinced!
Despite this frightening experience, Mum and Dad continued to enjoy a number of Cruises making lots of friends along the way helping them deal with the losses of many of their lifetime friends who pre-deceased them.
Doctors and hospitals:
Dad was always pragmatic and had seen many close relatives and friends deal with a number of health related challenges. Dad absolutely hated hospitals and fortunately never had to endure an extended stay. More than 10 years ago he was diagnosed with, and beat, prostate cancer. “Do you know what he did?” exclaimed Dad upon the initial examination, followed by, in total disbelief, “and then another consultant did the same thing again, despite me saying this has already been done to me!”
The radiotherapy was, as would be expected, painful and tiring and had some unpleasant after effects but it gave Dad another 10 years of quality enjoyable life.
Dad also suffered from a very rare kidney disease which slowly, but progressively, reduced the effectiveness of his kidney function. Added to this, he suffered from degenerative bones in the spine which in his later years restricted his mobility.
Armed with the 24/7 care of Nurse Jill and his own determination, Dad managed to control Type2 diabetes through diet. Kidney dialysis was avoided. Sadly in the past few weeks nature took its toll and Dad passed away peacefully in the comfort of his home and with his beloved Jill.
Dad’s sporting interests and humour
Dad drummed into us that life is not a rehearsal and always said that the only guarantee in life is that we will all die - he certainly made sure that he had a lot of fun during his life!
He loved everything about horseracing, particularly the banter and atmosphere of a race meeting. He loved driving his friends to the meetings and always supplied them with a full selection of sandwiches and drinks and ensured that they arrived well before the start of the first race. Even when suffering from ailments in the run-up to a race meeting, Dad would almost inevitably recover just in time and pass a late fitness test even if he was judge and jury.
Football was another favourite past time. All of Dad’s family and Mum’s father were Tottenham fans. Peter followed Mum and supported Arsenal, so there were always plenty of discussions and opinions at home. In 1971 Arsenal won the League at White Hart Lane. Despite the fierce rivalry between the clubs, Dad put Peter’s personal enjoyment ahead of anything else and took him to Wembley to see Arsenal complete the double – a classic combination of pain and joy!
Dad loved practical jokes and had a great sense of humour. Many of you will have your own fond memories but here’s just a few examples of his joie de vivre:
‘Hiding’ friends’ pre-prepared speech notes just before they were about to speak was a favourite ‘wind-up’. Perhaps this is why Dad never volunteered to make speeches!
Dad used to be part of the dressing room whenever Sir Henry Cooper fought. When Henry won his 3rd Lonsdale Belt he was awarded a very heavy gold commemorative belt. During the dressing room celebrations Dad slipped the belt under his raincoat. When the time came to leave the dressing room there was mass panic as the belt was nowhere to be found – and then Dad broke into his massive smile and rocked with laughter!
At an MG Scampagnata the then President of the MG Club, a good friend of Dad’s, was sitting having lunch with some dignitaries drinking some nice glasses of wine. Dad went over to his friend with a bottle of ‘champagne’ which he offered to his friend and his guests. All of them promptly threw the contents of their wine glasses into the grass and waited to receive their ‘champagne’. Imagine the reactions when they discovered Dad had filled the bottle with water and was rolling with laughter!
When we were teenagers Mum and Dad thought it best that, for holidays, Peter should share a room with Dad and Lisa share with Mum. After returning from one two week holiday one of Dad’s friends asked him “Giri - what were you most looking forward to when you got home?” “Veal chop” was the quick as a flash deadpan response!”
An incredible life, a truly wonderful husband, father, father-in-law, step-grandfather, loyal friend and role model. Dad was only small in height but had an enormous heart. He is an impossible act to follow, but what an example he set! Dad has left a big void but so many beautiful memories.
Rest in peace Dad and even though you are no longer here we know that you will continue to look over us all. We hope that we will not let you down.
Without a question or a doubt,
Giri was the first to help you out
His happy face and cheerful smile
Would brighten up your day for a while.
His cheeky jokes and anecdotes,
Were always given with a wink or a poke!
His favourite pastimes of horses and whist,
Were weekly events he never missed!
His love of life and retelling of old stories
Were said with a passion and not jackanories!
He never whinged, he never moaned
Even though his body groaned
His greatest gift was his love and dedication
To his wonderful family, friends and relations.
We shall miss your love and your smile so cheery,
We shall miss you dearly, our beloved Giri.