Obituary: Archie McDiarmid, banker
Archie McDiarmid, banker.
Born: 22 September, 1939, in Glasgow.
Died: 11 July, 2011, in Edinburgh, aged 71.
ARCHIE McDiarmid was an old-fashioned banker who missed his true calling as a professional soldier.
He might also have become a gentleman farmer had money been no object.
And in the end he made up for both career deviations by rising to the rank of major in the Army Cadet Force and enjoying a lifelong love of the hills where he had once shepherded his flock of sheep.
A brilliant raconteur, with trenchant views and a dry, sardonic humour, he was also a leading light in Edinburgh's Quill Speakers Club and a past captain of Ward XVII of the High Constables of Edinburgh.
Glasgow-born, he spent his formative years in Balloch and was a boarder at Morrison's Academy in Crieff where he learned to play the bagpipes. On leaving school he went to work on a relative's farm in Balquhidder with a view to going to agricultural college and being a gentleman farmer.
Passionate about animals, he became a trainee shepherd and, with his faithful dog Nan, looked after his flock, all of which he knew by name and individual personality.
However, after a couple of years it was evident that realising his farming dream would entail a considerable amount of financial backing so he took his father's advice to get an alternative safe, secure job in a bank.
He joined the Royal Bank of Scotland in Glasgow in 1957 and, though the transition from living in the hills to being a teller in the city was not easy, he soon settled in to enjoy the camaraderie and company of new friends.
Unlike many of his era he was desperate to do his National Service and before being conscripted exercised every day for six months to ensure he was fit enough. He joined the last intake in 1960 and again enjoyed forging new friendships and mischief-making - often setting things up in camp before walking off calmly leaving chaos in his wake - a trait that endured throughout his life.
After completing his service in the Pay Corps he returned to the bank, this time at Campbeltown where his parents were then living. After 18 months he was transferred to Edinburgh and the head office in St Andrews Square where the tall, dark and handsome young banker met a 17-year-old fellow bank worker, Linda, who was to become his wife. They married at St Michael's Parish Church, Inveresk near Musselburgh in 1966.
Meanwhile he continued his involvement with the military, joining the Territorial Army's Lowland Yeomanry and then the Lothian battalion of the Army Cadet Force. He became commanding officer for East Lothian ACF and then the main battalion training officer for the Lothians, reaching the rank of major.
He also enjoyed playing the role of regimental sergeant major at home where he would march up and down to pipe music and always said he missed his true vocation by not staying in the army.
However, he had been a father figure to, and great influence on, many cadets in his charge over the years. He was also an authority on the Second World War, having gathered an extensive knowledge of every battle.
In his civilian life he was promoted to manager of the Royal Bank of Scotland's St James Centre branch in Edinburgh and took over as manager of the joint Davidson's Mains and Blackhall branches in 1980. He was in his early 50s when he retired from there in the 1990s when the bank undertook its first major downsizing exercise.
An old-fashioned conservative banker with integrity, he was a good and fair manager. Forthright but both personable and approachable, he got to know his customers well and made his decisions shrewdly, as much on the basis of character as on the bare financial figures. While his quirkiness might have been seen by some as a bit of a rebellious streak, he remained a loyal servant to the bank.Outside of work he retained a love of the outdoors and continued to return to the west coast where his family retained a home overlooking Campbeltown Loch. He walked the West Highland Way and climbed Ben Lomond for charity several years in succession. Further afield he completed the challenging 100-mile Nijmegen Military Marches in Holland. He also made regular golfing pilgrimages to Arran and was a past president of the Murrayfield Cramond Rotary Club.
Articulate, witty and with a wicked sense of humour, he suffered no fool gladly and, at the Quill Speakers Club, was known for his often outrageous views - sometimes described as somewhat to the right of Genghis Khan - delivered in his own inimitable style.
He was at his best speaking unscripted and his whole life provided material for his talks, whether it was recollections of his school and banking days or tales of cruises enjoyed with his wife. His forte was the comic and sometimes tragic aspects of life and the foibles and eccentricities of those he came across.
He was a people person and had a real affinity for his fellow human beings, evidenced by his chairmanship of North Edinburgh Dementia Care. He remained in post until his death and his legacy will live on there in the Seagrove Centre which helps maintain dementia sufferers in the community.
He is survived by his wife Linda.