One of his lifelong joys and interests was good music. As a wartime child he had a particular grasp of jazz, swing and classical music. And as a working contemporary of ‘Jenks’ these were musical tastes they certainly shared. Jenks’s enjoyment of jazz in particular extended to occasional attempts to play the clarinet. I never heard him do so, in all the long years I knew him, but it was certainly there, lying around in his remote little lodge house out in the woods near Crondall in Hampshire.
Anyway, the upshot of all this is that Geoff agonised over what music should be played at Jenks’s funeral, in Aldershot. What he came up with, I have always thought, was a choice of genius. Jenks was a big man in a small man’s body. He had been a very accomplished gymnast and long-distance cyclist in his pre-motoring youth – with the competitive nature perhaps associated with being, as he would say, 5ft 3 1/2ins tall. When the advent of the Boeing 747 persuaded him that he could bear trans-Continental flight and so could report on ‘fly-away’ Grands Prix in the USA and South Africa, he noticed that the fastidious Bernie Ecclestone on those long flights would change his clothes halfway. Meeting Bernie in the aisle he would say “You know Bernie, I’ve always liked talking with you because you’re the one man in Formula 1 I can always look straight in the eye”. He would then, I was reliably informed, ask if Bernie would let him have his old clothes because they’d fit perfectly and had plainly been hardly worn. Mr E – who had been around racing for fewer years than had Jenks, apparently took this kind of ribbing in good part. He just told the bearded wonder, mildly, “Jenks - do f— off” - and they and other F1 people adjacent would all laugh and the prospects for another Grand Prix race would fill their focused minds. It was good big-boy stuff. Grown-ups with a sense of fun… buried in there somewhere… and in some people, more deeply than in others.
The music choice that Geoff came up with for Jenks’s funeral included two jazz numbers. The second of them, to be played during departure after the service, was the Chris Barber Band’s ‘South Rampart Street Parade’ – we didn’t want anyone to leave unhappy… And before that Jenks’s coffin was to be borne into the chapel – sorry, this isn’t meant to be at all morbid, the couple of hundred attendees were there to celebrate his life – to the notes of ‘Petite Fleur’, the Chris Barber Band’s million-selling 1959 hit with its signature clarinet solo played by the great Monty Sunshine.