John Gibson: By George, he was a gentleman

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Permit me to add a few words in tribute to Barnaby Hawkes, worth much more than the scribble I squeezed into Friday’s column.

Going back to the spring of 2008 when, no thanks to a misinformant, I pronounced him dead. Then the dreaded phone call. It was Barnaby. Himself. Very much alive.

“Barnaby,” I started, “What can I say?” “You don’t need to print anything. Except, maybe, a couple of lines to reassure my daughter. She was amused initially. Say anything at all, as long as it’s humorous.”

Barnaby, below, who then had survived a year of chemo and radiotherapy, was the long-time maitre d’ at the George Hotel’s chintzy Chambertin restaurant. Smooth-tongued, I wrote of him, he well knew how to run a stylish room. A Northumberland native, public school educated, the flesh and blood Barnaby was talking to me from his Leith home, enjoying his retirement.

“John, we’re stil the best of mates. You had me dead and buried, but I’m very much alive and kicking and my sense of humour is not challenged.”

He was at that time the sacristant at at Old St Pauls Episcopal Church in Jeffrey Street, where I last saw him boarding bus, in rude health. Well, Barnaby’s gone now, for sure. Died peacefully on March 29. The funeral is tomorrow. Details at 447 5858.

Doris the diva

Afterwords . . . from a diva of yesteryear, Doris Day: “Would you believe I’m still offered scripts all the time? But they don’t make the kind of movies I made any more. It’s different world. If I have helped people get through their difficult times, I’m sincerely honoured.’’ Doris was 90 last week.