A speech delivered on the occasion of
Hamish Fraser McLauchlan’s 80th Birthday
Saturday 6th October 2018
Glenesk Hotel, Edzell
Hamish is many things to many people. He’s ‘Hamish’ or ‘darlin’ to my mum. The ‘bunker’ to customers past and present. ‘Grandpa Bum’ to Rosalyn and Jamie. ‘My secret tartan love terrier’ to TV chef Nigella Lawson. But to me, Colin and Neil – he is our dad.
When my voice finally broke, I was always mistaken for my dad on the phone. Do you remember the days of politely answering the phone in your best voice? It’s a forgotten art.
Hello this is Edzell 575. Hello this is Turriff 63297.
And the reply would often be, ‘ Fit like, Hamish, I want to buy a larry!’
Yes, go for it buy the most expensive one you can find. Buy 2 in fact. Oh, and a helicopter. Why not? It’s just what Harbro needs.
My dad loves comedy and has an infectious chuckling laugh full of mischievous cheek and charm. 1 am with a pint-sized dram in hand, the resemblance between my dad and Rikki Fulton’s IM Jolly is uncanny
Some of his most treasured comedians are:
It was raining cats and dogs, and I fell in a poodle.
It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to have to paint it.
A cement mixer collided with a prison van on the Kingston by-pass. Motorists are asked to be on the look-out for 16 hardened criminals.
All those who believe in psychokinesis raise my right hand.
Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn’t try it on.
A fart is just your arse applauding.
Although, perhaps fellow Perthshire born comic, Fred MacCauley, sums my dad up perfectly:
“There will be a lot of people watching who will wonder what does a true Scotsman wear under his kilt, and I can tell you a true Scotsman will never tell you what he wears under his kilt. He will show you at the drop of a hat”
But the joke I always associate with my dad is this one:
Look Athole, that coo’s on it’s holidays!
How’s that dad?
It’s got a wee calf…
My dad is a bit of a circus clown and will jump on any opportunity to be daft and perform his party tricks. He loves to stand on his head, skip along the street and click his heels like Morecambe and Wise and, best of all, push out his false teeth by poking his tongue through them. I’ve always liked that one the best but found out yesterday that my mum has been unaware of this particular talent for the duration of their 50 plus years of marriage. Just as well really!
My dad is an inspirational chef. His KP crisp sandwiches and cup-a-soup lunches are legendary. Since retirement, he has stepped down from the culinary limelight and spends most of his time consulting the TV oracle of Nigella Lawson instead. The mere mention of the words, “Nigella Lawson”, risk turning him into a drooling, blethering wreck like the immortal Father Jack.
FECK ERSE GERLS DEATH BY DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CAKE MUSHROOM RISOTTO
is the only gibberish he is capable of when watching.
My dad and I have watched hundreds of hours of golf, football and rugby together. At Pittodrie, at Hampden, at St. Andrews and Murrayfield – but mostly on the tele. His TV watching routine is finely tuned. He will munch crisps, gobble toast and marmite, and imbibe copious pints of whisky (blend not malt, mind you) while grunting and moaning loudly at the box any time a player makes a mistake.
“He’s a bloody professional footballer too.”
It’s rugby dad…
My dad is a world class athlete. You will be all aware of his bulging trophy cabinet celebrating decades of success at curling and golf, but you may less aware of his five world champion titles at finding golf balls. He has a sixth sense for it. If he went to the moon, I’m positive he’d find one there too. And Mars. The rivalry between him and Ernie, to gain control of the much contested out of bounds rough along the second hole at Edzell, was legendary. It nearly ended up in mafiosa Ice Cream War-style recriminations over the hallowed turf. Decapitated Galloway drivers on the bed, sawed putters in the bath – that kind of thing. Francis Ford Coppella at one stage considered turning their misadventures into a 3-hour biopic.
My dad introduced me to cocktails at an early age. I cherish the memory of many exhilarating hill walking adventures with my dad when he would produce a wee flask of something warming at just the right moment. It was always either The Rusty Nail or, my Kathy’s favourite, the Whisky Mac. That’s quite a pick-me-up when you’re 10.
My dad is a famous collector. It’s a hereditary disease that has seen both Colin and I undergo a program of brutal re-education by our respective wives. Over the years, dad has collected stamps, coins, piggy banks, whisky jugs, matches and of course golf balls. Thousands and thousands of golf balls…
My dad is Top of the Pops for music, and he also has a rather fine singing voice. I have rock n roll memories of cruising around the boy racer circuit in Turra and Banff with my dad blasting his fave tunes from the car. The musical heroes included:
Who can sing like Callum Kennedy?
I found my thrill on Balgie Hill.
Kickin and a gougin in the mud and the blood and the beer.
Hey there mister blue
We’re so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Everybody smiles at you
Also, Mark Knopfler, Enya and his millions of Readers Digest tapes of James Last and his Orchestra.
But our favourite was a tape of a Scottish comedian who has sadly never made it to the preserved status of streaming services like Apple Music or Spotify: Colin Campbell’s Highland Radio on Radio Auchnagatt. It was an expertly distilled blend of gossip, cooking recipes, music and football scores. Like this one:
News just in of the match between the local rivals Fyvie and Echt. The final score is Fyvie – echt and Echt – five.
My dad is a brilliant father-in-law and an utterly devoted Grandpa. Jamie, Rosalyn and Kathy are gutted they can’t be here to help you celebrate today but send you all their love. They love you to the moon and back. And more than all the lost golf balls in the world!
Someone else who also can’t be here today is our dearly missed Neil. Ten years ago, when dad was turning 70, Kathy and I were childless and off galavanting around the globe. It was left to Colin, Neil and mum to nurse dad through his life-changing operation for bowel cancer. With your permission, I’d like to invoke the spirit of Neil in the room by reading out some of his wise words from email exchanges during that period ten years ago.
To give some context, I always think of both mum and dad being in their early 40s – I still do.
Neil wrote about dad’s stoicism:
He is tough in a big soft way. We are all soft in a big tough way. Same diff.
And then about me being so far from home. A situation a find me in again.
Distance isn’t an issue for any of us really. I know you might feel like you are every far away from it all now and that it will be ages till you get the chance to see everyone but trust the old hands – time just keeps speeding up. Just enjoy where you are for now and know that Dad is getting the best care that he can. He is very healthy and strong and, probably most importantly, has a very positive outlook on what is happening to him.
We are all getting older (some with more grace and dignity than others but lets not get into that… ) And sadly none of us are invincible. But in a strange way and despite all the fear and worry, this is the kind of thing that pulls people together – wherever they are – and gives us all humility and strength. We all think of Mum and Dad as vigorous and strong people because for all our lives that is what they have been to us and for us. For that we should be very thankful. All we can do now is offer all the support and love we have back to them. A call or mail from the other side of the world is as welcome and as effective as me or Colin dropping in to say hello. You may think of them as aged 40 in your head but you are still their wee laddie – and always will be.
Colin then added:
the specialist has 11 (operations) currently being done and is one of the experts in country…..and dad likes him and likes the nurses….so whats more to like…..
There then follows a side chat about my big left toe, which got infected and full of puss and I was posting lots of crucial updates about on our travel blog. To this day it has never healed…
Photos are fab but that toe needs amputation.
Yes get that toe amputated!! Minger!
big toe update – the nail has now come off and as yet there is no sign of any new nail popping through. And yes, it looks freaky as hell.
Big toe – i have lived with an ugly big toe fungus for quite some time. The nail never came off and i have tried pills and weird acid stuff all to no avail. The pills cured a lesser fungus on another toe but had no effect on the big one and were VERY expensive – 250 euro for a 3 month course. On the weird acid stuff again and it seems, seems to be shifting but by ‘eck it never looked as FREAKY as yours!! Take heart though the nail will take ages to grow back – maybe as much as 3-4 months.
i have fungus foot too thanks guys…….cant get rid of nail either…..must be another hereditary disease……
But I’ll leave the final word with Neil and his summary report of the 70th birthday shenanigans that I missed. Bear in mind; this is about a man who was days away from a major surgical operation.
Yes i’m afraid you missed a good one. My god those “oldies” know how to party. Lots of booze and laughing and singing. Talk even turned dirty when we got back to the house with the chosen few. My ears had to be averted. And of course Hamish had to do a handstand at 3 in the morning… What a man. NO way would he not do it and of course he did it without any help or problem. He reckons it’s like riding a bike and that once you can do it then it’s always easy. Aye. And. Right.
Please raise your glass in a toast to:
my dad, oor dad, your dad, a’body’s dad.
Here’s tae us! Wha’s like us? Damn few and they’re a deid!