It was a small, unadorned coffin that slid its way out of S. Giovanni mortuary on the wettest and coldest day of the year, its only distinctive mark being the stark metal tag on the top bearing his name, Derek John Wilson.
How Derek hated the cold, but he would have loved his own send-off, in its quiet, unassuming, understated, very distinguished simplicity. There could have been no more fitting end for a reporter who spent his working life, and indeed the dying days of his life, with a note pad and a pencil always ready to chronicle the simple, the commonplace and the everyday people and things of life in Rome.
Derek was the most unassuming of journalists, so much so that few ever had an inkling of what a distinguished career he had.
He spent 1968-1975 working for Agence France-Presse, The Times and the BBC in Vietnam; he was in on the start of the war and he remained, off and on, until the United States withdrew from Saigon.
From 1975-1981 he was the BBC correspondent for Latin America, based in Buenos Aires during the bleak and cruel years of the military dictatorship. Relations and friends of people who were