In my TV days I once called Jack Charlton with an invitation to be the subject of a lengthy interview on his career as a Leeds United and England defender.
It was 1984 and he made it clear that the thought of taking the early flight from Newcastle to Aberdeen did not fill him with joy.
Then, remembering his twin loves – football and fishing – I dangled a little carrot before him.
“I’ll get you a day’s fishing on the River Dee and we’ll go to see Dundee United’s Uefa Cup tie against the Austrian team, Linz, at night,” I promised.
“Book the flight,” he replied.
Alas, his visit came one day before the salmon fishing season opened on February 1 – we hadn’t thought of that – so I bought him a day permit for sea trout fishing on the River Ythan at Newburgh.
Six quid, I seem to remember.
We set sail in a coble boat, he in his waders, me in a suit and street shoes.
Two and a half hours of hilarious anecdotes later and accepting the fish were on holiday, we headed back to shore and, as he stepped out of the boat 15 yards from the beach, Jack instructed me to “get on my back” and proceeded to cart me on to dry land.
After the TV interview, which shone a light on his integrity and charisma, we headed for Tannadice and, at his insistence, found a pub near the ground where he could enjoy a pint of Guinness, or “Irish champagne” as he called it.
You can imagine the reaction of the fans when Big Jack walked in.
It was clear during the game that he would have been happier standing on the touchline as he shouted instructions at every United player for 90 minutes.
A World Cup winner in 1966 and a huge success as the Republic of Ireland manager in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Jack Charlton, who died last week, was a powerful and captivating personality.
Garden centre trip too much for some
Shops and (unnecessary) shopping have never tickled my fancy.
So you can imagine my terror when, on day one of the mandatory new Covid-19 rules surrounding the need to dress up as a surgeon, I winced when a trip to a garden centre was imminent, as in “now”.
Our masked raid was not a pleasant experience, however, especially when my trolley, laden with several plants, their pots and a heavy bag of compost, took control of its own direction.
It resulted in a car-park capsize, a broken foxglove and its intended terracotta pot home. Alan Titchmarsh, forgive me. It was a silent journey home.
Earlier, my wife’s specs steamed up courtesy of her breath filling her makeshift mask – a silk scarf.
The thing slipped, and from nowhere geranium Joe appeared with a “cover your nose and mouth” rebuke.
There was no one within a hundred metres. I expect him to be promoted to lance corporal soon.
Deep pockets needed to afford staycations
“Holiday in Scotland,” Nicola Sturgeon pleads as she bids to reboot the economy.
Okay; on to the laptop.
A bookings website, two days for two in Skye in late August, nice hotel (three stars); click. Kerching – £510.
There were cheaper options, of course; £380 here, £460 there, and a rather nice apartment in Portree, a snip at eleven hundred quid for a couple of nights.
Staycation? Not on your Nicola.