I was chatting to a friend of mine about John Gibson, the Edinburgh Evening News columnist who sadly passed away last week, when he reminded me of the time when I was inadvertently responsible for him having to apologise for a ‘slight’ inaccuracy in one of his articles.
I had been in John’s company on countless occasions and we were both invited to lunch at The George Hotel on a few of these. John knew the restaurant manager, Barnaby, very well as did our host former councillor Tom Ponton and much of the time was spent including him in the banter around the table.
Sometime later Barnaby took a considerable amount of time off work to combat a very serious illness and I was told later that he had unfortunately passed away. I asked Tom Ponton if he had heard the sad news which he hadn’t but that didn’t stop him passing it on to John who then wrote a fulsome tribute to Barnaby in his column.
Imagine his surprise when Barnaby called him next day, using the remark attributed to Mark Twain that “the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”.
Apparently Barnaby’s daughter had read John’s column and called her dad to tell him that he was dead. Although Barnaby saw the funny side, I’m not so sure that John entirely did as he was seen storming around the office saying at the top of his voice “in all my (expletive) years in journalism I have never (expletive) misreported like that. Wait until I get my hands on whoever started that (expletive) rumour!”
Suffice to say that on hearing John’s reaction, I did not think it wise to enlighten him.