Minding James – Introduction

I wish to thank all the contributers here, whether happily recalling and writing about our old friend or simply mentioned in other writings as friends, cronies and co-conspirators in daftness. Special thanks goes to Alan McDonald who produced heaps of great memories from long ago, clearly keenly experienced at the time. I am aware that writing a wee story isn’t everyone’s bag, and especially sorry I don’t have much about the bulk of James’s family life in Christchurch and Wanaka – I do know though that it was a wonderful life full of fun, outdoor activities, kindness … and cups of that!

I would like to say that I wish I had compiled this long ago so that James could have enjoyed it and perhaps done a bit of vetting, doctoring and healing, especially where my ageing memory goes astray and my penchant for transmogrification and embellishment takes over. However, rest assured it’s all based on truth, it all happened – it’s just that some colour has been added and some speech Scottified for additional readability … for some freenz!  

Speaking of colour, I’m sure we all know that one of James’s delights in life was using colourful language, and I don’t mean of the poetical kind … although there was often a certain lyrical quality in the way he used the likes of “fung”, “bawz”, “erse” and “kunche”. There’s quite a lot of Scots lingo used in this remembrance, so I hope you “ken weel” or can make educated guesses.

Anyway, I dug out some very old travel diaries to find quite a few incidents that I’d forgotten, stuff we did together, also some things we said, some of it pretty candid, probably in our cups, about life and work, about good mutual friends … some of it is unrepeatable, certainly unprintable!  If you wish to read the unreadable it’s in “Unexpurgated”.  

James’s official remembrance service in February, 2023, tried “to capture his essence” and was successful in mentioning the relationships, family, friends, teaching, medical career and love of life. This tribute simply comprises wee stories from long ago, mostly off-the-wall daft and humorous – I hope they give an insight into our eccentric friend who never lost his appreciation of the absurd and quirky, and was aye up for a guid laugh.

As they say on the News, when there’s something from a warzone or a disaster, “Warning, contains confronting scenes”. In similar vein, please read this only if you appreciate totally daft! Keep away if you don’t want to burst out laughing, to have a bit of a think, to be surprised or possibly even a wee bit shocked.