Other than my father and father-in-law, two men in particular have had that effect on me over the years.
One was Bill Duncan, an Edinburgh businessman I met on holiday and who became a father-figure before being taken from us too early. The other was Ian Wood. From the moment I first met “Woody” – I was working for a sports agency at the time and he was The Scotsman’s golf correspondent – I knew that I was in the company of a special human. He had a wonderful knack of being comfortable in anyone’s company and a compelling nature without ever having to be centre stage.
It was an honour and privilege that we subsequently became colleagues on this newspaper, where I was among those over the years who, as part of our sub-editing duties, had the pleasure of being the first to read his much-loved Monday column.
Needless to say, his flawless copy required nothing in the way of editing and, if my memory serves me right, “Woody” even suggested a headline, which wasn’t normal practice.
As both of us were good friends of the late Alister Nicol, the Daily Record’s renowned golf reporter, Ian and I were invited to be on the Scotland team when the Golf Writers’ Home Internationals got off the ground in Ireland more than 20 years ago.
From his sleepwalking incident at the Celtic Manor Resort in Wales to a Jurgen Klinsmann-style dive across the clubhouse floor at The European Club in County Wicklow, those events will provide many of the memories to make me smile whenever I think about “Woody” in years to come.
Following his death on Boxing Day at the age of 80, Ian’s funeral will take place next Monday at Mortonhall Crematorium (11am) and, along with so many others who were blessed to have known him, my thoughts are with his brother Sandy, daughter Jane and son Graham.