Fordyce Maxwell: I subscribe to the theory that old age is always ten years older than I am
NOTHING like a good start to the day and – old joke alert – reading the obituaries of a friend, died suddenly at 56, and of a former colleague, equally suddenly at 63, as a Hound of the Baskervilles mist swirled outside, was nothing like a good start.
Braced by an eye-popping second cup of coffee and a brisk round of chores – whatever the question, hard work is the answer – I put the usual regrets about relationships severed by death into perspective.
The former colleague had been a colleague only briefly, although Liz knew him at an earlier stage in his career, and we both felt for his family. When you subscribe to the theory that “old age is always ten years older than I am” it follows that anyone with fewer years on the clock is young.
That made my friend Neil Griffiths at 56 a slip of a lad and increased the irony that someone outwardly fit and healthy with a zest for life should die in his sleep, his long distance fund-raising walks and adventurous travels behind him, next spring’s sledging with huskies forever on hold.
The Royal British Legion Scotland and Poppyscotland have a big gap to fill in finding such a knowledgeable spokesman with an eye for a story and a fund of information. That ranged from producing a rash of front-page stories by pointing out that James Bond was not entitled to some of the medals he wore in a film, to a good knowledge of Latin and fluent German, plus encyclopaedic knowledge of military matters since about Agincourt.
I got to know him when he started the walks in the 1990s that, along with the entertaining books he wrote about them, eventually raised more than £900,000 for the Gurkha Welfare Trust as he thought, rightly of course, that The Scotsman Diary was a popular and influential place for publicity.
He had a good eye for the offbeat and amusing, gold dust to any Diarist trying to produce eight to ten items every day, and we hit if off.
More recently he liked my opinion on his single-handed efforts to keep the Scottish Legion News the most interesting single-purpose magazine in the business. We also shared stories regularly and scurrilously on newspapers and those who run and work for them, and more generously on our families, politics, travel and life.
He had his faults. Joanna Lumley has never had a more loyal admirer and whatever travel story I had, he could top it at a canter. But I’ll miss the chance to keep trying.
• Last week Fordyce... gave a debut to a new pair of walking boots in thick mist and deep mud. Liz is pleased they passed the test because he’ll no longer be tramping round the house breaking them in.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
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