Thursday, 26 February 2015


Don't worry, this is not a blog about the mascot of a famous hamburger fast food chain, home of the American Big Mac.

By coincidence it happens to be the full name of a local character, who went by the more familiar title of Ronnie, who passed recently after a five year battle with cancer in his spine.

Back around this time in 2010, just before Pauline was heading off on her big global cycle, Ronnie broke the news to us. Doctors had told him then he wouldn't see Christmas. It is testament to his character and no nonsense attitude to life that he defied them all and held out for five years!

I first met Ronnie in 1989 when I moved in to the apartment where I still live today. He had the middle of three large garages diagonally opposite my apartment, and spent his days fixings taxi cabs. He owned two, but had long since given up the long hours driving them, and concentrated instead on keeping them maintained. Word grew of his skills and many other drivers would visit, sometimes just for a cup of tea and chat. A council worker who drove a tractor along the beach, collecting washed up debris, would always stop at the bottom of the lane and spend his morning break putting the worlds to rights with Ronnie.

His passion was Landrovers. His son-in-law told me recently that, despite his illness robbing him of his strength and mobility, he was always going on about the Landrover chassis sitting in his garage that he needed to start building a new vehicle on. I think it's what kept him going through his illness all this time. He had one small Landrover that was his pride and joy, and he used it in a local Victorian Day parade, heading it up with the crowned, Victorian Day parade queen waving from the open back. That parade sadly is no more, but every year the taxi cab drivers of Edinburgh get together to give sick and disadvantaged kids a day out down the coast, decorating the cabs with all manner of designs. In essence every cab was a unique float, and Ronnie took part every year.

In my street, not only was he a friendly character but he was great for security. Just knowing he was around was peace of mind, and, of course, he would happily help tinker with your car should you have a problem.

He was a good, honest man, who had worked hard all his life, and said it like it was, sometimes colourfully. I fondly recall one day he helped me get a heavy sofa up a flight of stairs into my apartment. He took the bottom end, shouldering most of the weight, but at only around five and a half feet tall, it was clearly a challenge for him. From start to finish the air was blue with muttered obscenities, like a nachine gun emptying its magazine. By the time we reached the top of the stairs tears were streaming down my face I was laughing so much. But the best laugh was to come when we finally got the sofa inside. He stood straight, dusted his hands down, and in a calm and relaxed voice announced, "well that was easy".

The street I live on now is quiet, and on Monday at his funeral, which I suspect will be very busy, we will all reflect on our own, unique memories of Ronnie.

He may have chosen to prefer to be called Ronnie, perhaps because of the connection to the fast food chain, who knows, but to me he will always be just Ronnie, our very own Big Mac.

No comments: