My father's funeral service took place last Thursday, January 18th, 2007 at Fetteresso Church, Stonehaven and he was buried at Fetteresso Cemetry, Kirkton, Stonehaven.
My tribute delivered at the funeral is below - not sure I did full justice to 92 years of life, but I hope he would have appreciated it. Many thanks for all the kind words and support from an army of people over the last two weeks.
The life of Alexander Bruce Smith was both long and extraordinary.
Born in Drumlithie in 1915, he grew up on a small farm called Cuttiesouter, up the Auchenblae road – Alex’s descriptions of his early childhood could have come straight from the pages of Sunset Song.
From these tough, but happy, beginnings – and like so many fellow Scots before him - he developed an early wanderlust.
His chosen route away from the Mearns was through the RAF. However, his mother didn’t want him to join – so she put his draft papers on the fire. Undeterred, he reapplied and with typical Smith stubbornness, eventually joined, albeit a year later than originally planned.
It was the beginning of an amazing period of travel and adventure.
The British troop presence in the Afghanistan/North-West India Frontier region is a regular feature in the news today – and we shouldn’t forget that 70 years ago, British forces were performing a similar role. Alex was one of their number – and the sights, sounds and experiences of that time must have seemed a world away to him from the North East life.
One of his jobs was to drive a truck through the Khyber Pass – others seemed to return with vehicles riddled with bullet holes. He was never shot at once. This was the beginning of what he himself described as a “charmed life”.
During the Second World War, he never saw action once. As he put it, wherever he went, the enemy either surrendered or retreated. He was Britain’s secret weapon – he once joked that if they’d sent him to Japan, perhaps the Americans wouldn’t have had to drop the atomic bomb….
Returning to Britain after the war, he met and married the love of his life, our mother, Enid May.
They settled in post-war Coventry. He wasn’t afraid of hard work and at one point he held down three jobs at once to bring up a young family. He was also a great believer in self- improvement, studying in his spare time and attending evening classes.
It helped him to achieve a good job with Midland Counties Dairy. But in 1970, he was made redundant. However, always a “glass half full” man, he saw this as an opportunity to finally run his own business. He moved along with the rest of the family back to Stonehaven to run a milk delivery operation.
More hard work turned this into a going concern. It also saw the emergence of one of the most famous fashion items on the street’s of Stonehaven – the balaclava.
The business grew and in 1973 he opened a newsagent shop in Mary Street. He enjoyed talking to customers and they could always count on what could diplomatically be called “high calibre debate” whether about psychology, politics or sport.
Of course, any reference to Alex’s life needs to mention sport. There were 4 areas that were particularly dear to his heart:
- football – he was Aberdeen FC's biggest fan – and critic. He always said that if won the lottery, the first thing he’d do was buy the club. At least he departed with a victory for the Dons over Kilmarnock.
- tennis – he was a very good tennis player – according to Alex, if not for the war, he would have won Wimbledon.
- cross country running – ran for top athletic club Coventry Godiva Harriers
- draughts – he was one of Scotland’s leading draughts players.
His draughts playing also took him far and wide – to the Orkney’s and to Ireland and many places in England. He represented his country and won numerous trophies. I know he had many friends from the Aberdeen Draughts Club and the wider draughts community who will miss his competitive spirit.
Turning to his later life, when mum died in 1995, he immersed himself in tracing the Smith family tree. He pursued this activity with his usual energy, enthusiasm and determination.
A good example of his single-minded focus were the trips he made to Canada to seek and find long lost relatives. You have to admire him for simply booking a plane ticket to Canada and literally turning up on people’s doorsteps and introducing himself. Of course, he was welcomed with open arms – and his natural charm went a long way in helping to trace the family tree – by his own reckoning he’d discovered 400 Canadian relatives and 200 in the United States – and this was only the tip of the iceberg, he said.
We also shouldn’t forget that he was incredibly active up until only a few years ago. He would still rise at 5am every morning – Scotland’s oldest paper boy.
All in all, a hard-working, funny, loyal and intelligent self-made man who lived life to the full. As he himself said only recently – I may be old, but I’m young at heart. He’ll be greatly missed by the family – Joan, Jim, Stan and myself – his sister Dot, his brother David, his grandchildren James, Jawad, Adam and Archie. In fact the town of Stonehaven has lost a great character. But I’m sure he would not want us to look at this as a sad occasion, but more of a celebration of a long and fulfilled 92 years.
In fact, his favourite phrase before he retired for bed every night was:
Life can sometimes throw up some very bizarre connections.
You may well have seen on the TV news at the weekend or read about the care home in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, where 12 OAPs have been stuck on the top floor since Xmas Day due to a lift breakdown. 12 Trapped since Xmas Day by lift breakdown
As it happens I have some connection with the said establishment.
First, my sister works there.
Second, I'm very familiar with the lift in question, as I have been up in it many times. I should explain.
When I was growing up, I had friend called Duncan Eddie (now the Reverend Duncan Eddie as it happens). His mother was the matron at the home, so he and his parents lived in a flat on the third floor.
Duncan and I were big music fans. Duncan had the luxury of a very fine hi-fi unit, so I used to take my LPs round there to give em a good listen. I was more of an orthodox rocker, with a liking for Queen, Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin. Duncan was a big Bowie fan, and introduced me to Iggy Pop. However, when punk arrived in late 76 (I read Sounds, he read the NME), all bets were off. We used to make sure our meagre resources went as far as possible for LP buying by agreeing in advance who would get what. So Duncan got The Clash's first LP the week it came out and I bought The Stranglers. The Buzzcocks Another Music was on his list, and I got Nevermind The Bollocks. When the Sex Pistols appeared on TOTP with Pretty Vacant, we both ran round to each others place to confirm that we had seen the biggest event of our lives in a state of heady excitement.
Seeing Clashfarquhar House on the TV at the weekend brough back memories on a different time - , growing up in the back of beyond in the North East of Scotland, the arrival of punk in 1977 made two teenage boys think that we were on the brink of a revolution - and we were the only 2 people in the town that were aware of it. The sweet naviete of youth.
Congrats to Richard on the arrival of his son Fionn Fox - Richard and I worked together back at Brodeur in 2000. He is that rare breed of PR who moved into journalism and is now a highly respected socio/political commentator in the Irish national press.
OBJECT MARKETING EXPANDS SENIOR TEAM
…Rod de St Croix appointed as PR director…
Shepherd’s Bush, London – 7th March 2006 - Object Marketing, the integrated marketing consultancy, has hired Rod de St Croix (39) as PR director. In this newly created role, Rod will work alongside the
agency’s co-founder Andrew Smith to grow and develop the PR practice.
Rod joins Object Marketing from Band & Brown where he was associate
board director. Prior to this he worked for several years as an
independent PR consultant advising B2B technology and online firms. He
began his PR career in 1995 with Brodeur Worldwide. Prior to this, he was an analyst with International Data Corporation.
Commenting on his appointment, de St Croix says: “I will be working
closely with the senior team here to grow the client base, whilst also
developing integrated campaigns that have a creative edge, and that
work hard for clients and generate tangible results. In addition, I
will be helping clients to reach beyond pure media relations to capture
the attention of the analyst and investment communities. I am looking
forward to making an important contribution to Object’s continuing
Object Marketing co-founder Andrew Smith says: “2006 promises to be an
important milestone in our growth and Rod will play a vital role in
helping us to achieve our targets. We welcome him as a key member of
About Object Marketing
Object Marketing is a fully integrated marketing consultancy, based
in London, UK, offering clients strategic and implementational support
through the entire marketing mix.
Object’s sector expertise spans technology, financial services and FMCG
markets. Current clients include business performance management
software vendor Hyperion, leading Internet security specialist Zone
Labs, and MySQL, developer of the world's most popular open source
Most of the major
PR agencies in the UK construct their business around writing
strategies, drawing up Q&As, drafting positioning statements,
scripting advertorials, collating briefing packs, printing press kits
and countless other bits of waffle that underpin our daily trade. This
rationalising process gets charged to the clients, who in most cases
seem happy to pay for it...
Get rid of all this stuff and you would demolish half the industry at a single sweep...
If you were to reduce the role of the PR consultant to its most
basic function what do you have? The man or woman on the phone whose
job is simply to offer a description of their client's product in a
topical, creative and engaging way.
Now let's take a look at Mr Henry's own company website: "Henry’s House has a full time staff of 20 executives with experience and skills in media relations, strategy and brand planning.We are big thinkers with extensive brand experience". (My emphasis). Based on his own analysis, does that mean he will be firing 10 people this afternoon - namely his own personnel involved in "countless other bits of waffle that underpin our daily trade."
Perhaps his clients will be pleased to know that they've been spending money on such "waffle."
The following from this afternoon's Silicon email newsletter shows that human beings remain the weakest link in the security chain. Turning a little bit Crimewatch for a minute, the Round-Up would like to begin by asking: "Were you in the City of London on Tuesday 14 February?"
"Did you see individuals acting strangely? Perhaps you saw them handing out CDs to commuters?"
Well, if you did, and you took said CD and put it in your PC at work then you were taking part in a social experiment to see whether employees, working in some of the capital's most (you'd hope) security-conscious industries - such as banking, finance and insurance - would accept a CD from a stranger and explore its contents on their work PC.
And of course, you guessed it, a lot of them did.
Thankfully all the CDs actually contained was some code which would inform the organisers of this stunt, IT skills specialists The Training Camp, just how many people had been duped.
No personal or corporate data was transferred - the CEO of The Training Camp was very quick to point out - but there was enough information to indicate that employees within a major retail bank and two global insurance giants had fallen for it. And they were just the tip of iceberg.
Rob Chapman, that very same CEO, told silicon.com "this could have been someone wanting to cause havoc in the City".
And of course it could indeed. Fortunately this time though it was an experiment.
Even now some of you may be reading this and performing the classic full-palm-slap to a slightly moist forehead... the universal sign language for 'I've been an idiot' (though we like to think Round-Up readers are a cut above the kind of dolt who'd have been suckered in by this).
So what does this prove? It illustrates just how out of touch employees and companies are with the human threat posed to their network.
After all, why would criminals bother trying to come up with clever and sophisticated ways of breaching firewalls and perimeter security in order to infect a company with malicious code when they could just put it on a CD and tell commuters arriving in the City that it contains a competition?
Let them do all the hard work.
Bob's your uncle, the employee takes the bait and for the cost of a few hundred CDs malicious code could be onto the corporate network before a witless employee's first Starbucks coffee of the day is even cool enough to drink. (Starbucks hot beverages - hotter than the sun or not hot enough? Discuss.)
Also a man not afraid to have a beer with the British press - he'd probably doesn't remember wandering the streets of San Franciso in 1991 with a bunch of UK hacks seeking a drink at 4am - after we'd been turfed out of the bar at the St. Francis hotel.