I received not unexpected news tonight that an old sort-of relative was dying. He has lasted 90 odd years, and until very recently in extraordinary good health and totally compos mentis. Stopped by his 70 year old wife from driving too much, he would sneak away in his souped up Citroen, and drive over the back roads at more than a ton. He had driven all sorts of fast machines in his day and still loved the thrill.
He was a founder member of the Scottish Ski Club, one of the first skiers in Scotland, and won the Inferno race at Murren.
He liked to tell the story of buying skis in the thirties, screwing on the bindings himself, and taking off for the hills. Finding a suitable snowy slope, down he went, stopped at the bottom and suddenly found himself falling. He had skied onto a flock of sheep, who promptly scattered when he arrived.
He was definitely old school, but rejoiced in serving during the war with other ranks. He had an innate sense of right and wrong and of politeness and rectitude.
At the age of 70, he took up with the lady who is now his wife.He approached me and asked me to convey his sentiments to the lady's children and step-children, that he would have waited to be married before moving in with her, except he felt they would only have a limited time.
" I don't want anyone to think I am taking advantage of her", he said. I assured him that, even twenty odd years ago, such thoughts were unlikely.
But my fondest memory of him will be his wonderful fruity voice, which, when he read, made one dream of life and love and chivalry - and a bygone , better age.