The Wisdom of Bob


Posted by in September's Magazine

At the funeral of this old and dear friend I was struck by the bravery and humour of his son’s tribute (important here to recognise the input, guidance and sprinkling of gold dust supplied by the immediate family and many, many friends and also acknowledge Bob’s encroaching dementia) it just so happens that Keith did the eulogy. I plead the forbearance of the Jamieson/Fairbairn families in reproducing it as an exemplar of its type. The Editor 

Not a bad turn out for a 91-year-old, eh?

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“91? You must be joking! I cannae be 91. How did that happen?” I had this conversation weekly with Dad but it was fine, we always laughed.

I apologise in advance to the front rows, who’ve probably heard these stories before but, as Bob would say, “You’ve not heard them today though!”

Take the Hibs, Bob wasn’t keen on the Hibs, in fact he used to say if Hibs were playing in his back green he’d shut the curtains! When our kids were young Bob used to bamboozle them whenever we passed Easter Road by asking, “what the funny smell was?” He would leave them puzzling over the question before eventually pointing out that it was “coming from the Hibs ground.”

Right, as Bob often said, “that’s enough about the Hibs.”

Well maybe not, I remember calling him on the day Andy Murray reached the Wimbledon final. I was ecstatic he, it is fair to say, was totally underwhelmed. When I asked him why the lack of enthusiasm he just shrugged, “I dinnae like him he’s a Hibby.”

On Golf, when playing in later years and unable to hit the ball as far as he once could, he’d watch one of us hit a big drive and say “Jeez I didn’t go that far for my holidays.”

On another golf holiday in Portugal, he pulled a hamstring playing head tennis. On returning, he went to the family doctor and told him he’d pulled a muscle playing football. The doctor examined him and said. “Mr Jamieson, you do realise you are 75 years old?

At Myrtle Beach: I missed a putt (ahem. just) and Bob said “nice putt Peter.” My partner Tommy looked bemused, “who the hell is Peter?” In the minibus back Tommy said, “I can’t wait to tell Gail (Bob’s daughter) that story.” Quick as a flash Bob turned round and said, “Who’s Gail?”

Bob used to practice putting in his living room; he had a wee machine that spat the ball back to you after making a putt. One day I fancied a practice but couldn’t find the ball. I asked him where it was and he said he’d lost it. What do you mean you lost it? “Ah’ve hunted high and low but ah cannae find it.” Bob was never the best golfer in the world but only he could lose a ball in his own living room!

Four weeks ago (in his 91st year) we were taking him to Dunbar Golf Club for lunch, “where are we going?” He asked. When I told him he turned and started walking back to the care home, “I better get my clubs.”

The Great Escape: Last July we got a call from Milford Care Home, Bob was missing, I came back from Glasgow, Gail and Robbie were helping with the hunt. He was a vulnerable adult so all the stops where pulled out: police driving all over Duddingston; sniffer dogs in gardens; a police helicopter circling around; bus drivers alerted; Taxi drivers on the lookout and an appeal on Radio Forth. It was a terrible couple of hours for us.

We later found out Bob had ‘escaped’ and managed to get a 42 bus to London Road before walking all the way down Leith Walk, stopping at Greggs for a Pie and a Yum Yum (god knows how, he had no money) and arriving outside his house on Iona Street where the police were waiting. He had no idea what all the fuss was about. Turns out a visitor was letting herself in the front door of the care home as Bob was ‘letting himself out’ while delivering the immortal line “aye, they’re all sleeping in there I will come back later.”

A few years back after a funeral I asked Dad what he would like when his time came, burial or cremation? “I couldnae care less, son, as long as it’s packed.”

Thanks to all of you for making his wish come true!

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