Fordyce Maxwell: He had a voice that drilled through surrounding conversations
ADVANTAGES? Travel decisions you don’t have to worry about, hair-raising drives you don’t have to make, and a tour manager to sort out problems. And still much time to set your own agenda.
That’s how I ended up like Gene Kelly in Singing In The Rain at 6.30 in the morning in a Times Square downpour and Liz ended up sitting on a cardboard box at an otherwise standing-room-only open air concert in Chicago.
Disadvantages? Other people. That should be “some other people”, because most of us adapt and adjust to the shifting sand of personalities around us at any given time, at work or play. In any group of 30 or 40 most will find kindred spirits to talk and eat with.
But there’s always one. Or, on our recent US coast-to-coast trip – have I mentioned that before? – two. One was Yorkshire Knowall, the other Competitive Dad.
I should explain. For the first day or two of a tour, before first names become familiar, we – speaking personally, having heard myself referred to as “Our man in Havana” because of my hat – give shorthand identification to others.
Such as “lovely couple from Belfast”, “cheerful lady from Dumfries”, “not a grandmother” and “Bloke and Babe”.
Most are friendly. With some, friendly is impossible. Yorkshire Knowall kept that name through the tour. His only qualification was that he knew everything about everything – sailing, fish conservation, geology, politics – and had a voice that drilled through surrounding conversations.
At one point the tour manager, also at the end of his tether, said “I’m sure Roger is an expert on the Navajo.” Roger – for that was his name – shouted back: “No!”
I’m not proud of this, but I heard myself call out: “Why not? You’re an expert on everything else.” (Laughter, cheers, as they report in Hansard.)
Competitive Dad, after a character in The Fast Show, was worse. Trailing wife and two children he had to be first on the bus, on the train, in the restaurant, in the pool. No eye contact, dour, a complete pain. Where’s the pleasure in going through life like that?
A much better memory is of the cheerful lady from Dumfries, Catherine, who turned out to have a) MS, and b) an insatiable, indomitable drive to keep travelling until it is physically, impossible, and her unflaggingly cheerful and caring husband Brian.
If Competitive Dad ever thought of seeking a more fulfilling life a superb example was before him for three weeks.
• Last week Fordyce... with Liz and several hundred other friends said goodbye to Ally Clark – journalist, musician and broadcaster – at one of the cheeriest, longest, celebrations of a life Warriston crematorium has ever seen
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east