My great friend The Byreman died on Tuesday. His passing, in his early eighties, brings to an end one of the most enjoyable passages of my life during which I recounted – initially in years of columns for the Newcastle Journal and later here – the humorous side of the friendship we enjoyed.
Hundreds (and more likely thousands) of Northumbrians who shared his passions – farming, golf, horseracing and laughter – will mourn the passing of Malcolm Douglas, a great North-East character, storyteller and wit.
Ashington-born with connections across the whole of the region, Malcolm was a retired dairy farmer whom I met almost twenty years ago. In a pub, naturally. He introduced me to his golfing pals at Goswick GC, the racing crowd we moved with at Kelso and Musselburgh and to the cast of characters who populated my columns and with whom we drank at the Red Lion in Milfield: Klondike the gold-digger, the Lawnmower Salesman, John the Undertaker and Billy the Quid, to name but a few. They will miss him as much as I do.
I promised Malcolm that upon his death I would not “waste time writing an obituary”, the kind of piece he actually loved reading in The Times. Instead, he wanted something funny. Well, I don’t feel like writing something funny; I am heartbroken, for the friend I have lost, for his dear wife Lynda, their two sons and three grandsons.