Around six years ago, I had the spectacular good fortune of being introduced to Dr Tariq Idris, who was well-known at the time as a cosmetic dentist practising in London’s prestigious Harley Street. I met Tariq at a time when I’d been abandoned by the dental profession and I was in a very bad way, having been driven almost literally demented by the incessant pain I was suffering. As such, I had become extremely suspicious of and hostile to dentists, so I frankly doubted that our meeting would end well for either of us, despite the glowing recommendations I’d heard about Tariq , who had had a number of high-profile celebrities as his grateful clients over the years.
I immediately warmed to Tariq, but not just because of the supreme care he took in the course of his work. He was considerate and understanding to a fantastic degree with me, which is no small feat considering that I’ve got good reason to believe that I was quite possibly the most fearful and difficult patient he’d encountered. I was grateful beyond words to him for treating me like a human being, but we stayed in touch from the very first, not just because I was his patient, but because he was such a warm, likeable, amusing, considerate and well-informed man.
I am deliberately making this account brief, because I intend to write about Tariq at far greater length another time. For now, I was fascinated to learn that he applied the principles of the Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci Sequence to his cosmetic dentistry, so there were many times when Tariq and myself talked long into the night about these matters. We discussed other things as well, such as our shared love of Pink Floyd and black dogs, but I cannot hope to do justice to the full breadth of Tariq’s learning and interests here, nor will I try.
I’m 57 years old and for as far back as I can remember, I’ve had an extremely robust sense of humour, something that’s occasionally got me into deep trouble, but Tariq was responsible for playing the funniest practical joke on me that anyone has ever managed, which is an astonishing achievement and the memory of it still makes me explode with laughter and grin like an idiot. I could continue for hours yet and one day I will, but for now, I’ll simply say that for all his many wonderful qualities, not least his warmth and kindness, I loved Tariq like a brother.
I last spoke with him just a few weeks ago and as ever, he was brimming over with curiosity and happiness as he enthused about life in general and about a forthcoming project in particular. He was planning to leave the country for a little while, so I imagined that I’d be hearing from him shortly after his return, but instead, I was appalled to receive a phone call from a mutual friend last Monday to tell me that Tariq was critically ill in intensive care in a hospital in the north of England; on Wednesday, his life support was turned off and on the Thursday, the following day, Tariq was buried in keeping with the tenets of his devoutly-held Muslim faith.
At my age, I’ve known what I suspect is at least my share of tragedies and bereavements, but Tariq’s loss is absolutely brutal, not just to me, but to his young family and to all his many other friends, as well as to all those who profited from his professional skills. For most of the time, I think of this man that I loved like a brother and I smile, because of the countless reasons I have to be happy that I knew him, but every now and again, my eyes well up, the hot tears flow unchecked and I simply cannot bloody well believe that he’s gone, so I find myself cursing a malignant fate that stole him from us at such a young age.
This isn’t what Tariq would want, so I’ve applied myself to trying to write the briefest of eulogies that will do his memory some remote semblance of justice and hopefully please anyone else who knew him, who happens to pass by this site.
“Atque in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale”.
“And forever, Brother, hail and farewell”.