Like Ian, who spoke last night, I've known Daniel since I started secondary school in 1989 and he was one of my oldest, closest and most steadfast friends. We were in the same class at City of London for our first five years there, which probably makes Daniel the person whom I saw most in my teenage years.
It's very difficult to find the words to express what Daniel meant to me, and what a pivotal role he played in my life. He was the last friend who I saw before I moved to the USA in mid-August. Had I known that I'd be saying goodbye for the last time, I don't think I'd have been able to go. All of my friends knew Daniel and he was liked, admired and respected by them all.
It's a measure of the man that he was able to create such a universally positive impression on people of all ages and backgrounds. At the funeral, Daniel's natural abilities with children were mentioned, a fact obvious to anyone who saw even the most fleeting moments in which he interacted with them. My younger brother Ben, who's 3, was extremely fond of Daniel - so much so that my dad put a picture of Daniel on his computer screensaver - and was devastated at the news of his passing. At the other end of the age spectrum, he was the most doting grandson I know and virtually never missed a Shabbat lunch with his grandmother in Woodside Park, even though it meant getting up a good four - or even six - hours earlier than he would naturally have done on a day off. And it wasn't just people - Daniel was virtually the only one of my friends able to build up a rapport with my dog, Carrie, and he was genuinely moved when she died a few years ago.
Of course, any accurate picture of what Daniel was like would have to include his foibles. How Ian could have spoken for five minutes without mentioning Daniel's driving abilities, I'm not quite sure. When he and I, together with our friends Sam and David, travelled around Europe this summer, his driving had the three of us alternating between laughter and panic because of his inability to get the car out of a car park through a space at least three times the width of the car, his constant requests to turn left off a motorway or park on the left in the middle of nowhere and his magnificent imitation of Noddy, in which he constantly moved his hands up and down on the steering wheel when attempting to drive in a straight line. To be fair, Daniel had warned us in his typically witty style. When we asked him whether he'd ever driven on the right before, he said, "No. Except in England". Indeed, Daniel had an extremely sharp, dry sense of humour, targeted more often at himself than at anyone else, although he did get many well-deserved jibes in at my loud voice. This was typical of him as he always went out of his way to avoid hurting other people's feelings and felt terrible if he did do so.
Ian mentioned Daniel's athletic abilities. Not only did he try to ensure that the sporting talents of himself and his friends were honed as finely as possible, but he took it upon himself to ensure that they were keeping up-to-date with the sports results. In San Francisco, I eagerly awaited an e-mail from him each Monday morning letting me know all the football scores and Andrew Murray's latest world tennis ranking. Daniel also loved snooker and, for him, no May Day bank holiday would be complete without 48 hours worth of snooker watching with whomever he could cajole into joining him.
In fact, Daniel was an expert at using his interests in multiple contexts. Being a great mathematician, a great athlete and a great sports fan, he was able to use his maths to follow his own sporting development. In his flat, he maintained a spreadsheet and bar chart of his sporting times agianst the world record at each distance, measured as a percentage. His sporting achievements were also his principal means of wall decoration - he used to 'retire' (by putting up on the wall) the stopwatches he had used to record the personal bests of which he was particularly proud.
Daniel's warmth and humanity were such that he never judged anyone unfairly. His sensitivity was such that I felt like I could always turn to him with any problem. He would always know how to respond and would always make me feel comfortable confiding in him, even in situations that he couldn't understand or had no experience of. I wish that I had been equally adept at helping him through his own troubles.
I'd like to close on a personal note. Throughout the time that I knew him, Daniel constantly remonstrated with me because of my love of certain children's fantasy films, asking how I could be entertained by films with strange aliens in them. Reflecting on this question after his death, I came up with an answer: in a fantasy, there's always hope, even in the bleakest of situations and it's never too late to tell our friends how much we care about them. Indeed, in fantasies, characters frequently converse with friends who have died and tell them what they always wanted to say but were never able to express properly. I can't tell you how much it would mean to me to be able to see Daniel now and say to him, "You were always a truly great friend and I hope I was sensitive enough to let you see that."
I will miss him more than I can possibly say.
Toby Reiner, 9th November 2005