The Hon Man turns up on Arran

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Retired journalist Bob Tomlinson spoke to members of the Arran Historical Society on his life in journalism, especially his time as the Hon Man in the Sunday Post as their September meeting in Brodick Hall, writes Hugh Brown.

Bob spoke without notes or slides, and as well as keeping his audience enthralled, he had them laughing throughout with his hilarious anecdotes.

He began with his early life growing up in Anderson area in Glasgow. If at that time Edinburgh was the Athens of the North, then Glasgow was the Sparta of the North.

His father was a house painter who graduated to the boss, wearing a bowler hat which made him stand out in the area. Bob always had a desire to get into the posh school in the area, the one where the boys wore a chocolate coloured blazer. He had an interview with the headmaster and others at the school and when asked if he had any relatives in the school Bob said: ‘My aunty Aida.’ His classmates kept in with him as he was always getting an extra at school lunches.

Bob changed his religion frequently to ‘get on’ and having spells in various sects he eventually took up ‘congregationalism’ to marry his wife 52 years ago.

After his education he had a job as assistant manager at the Pitlochry Theatre. This did not suit him as he was working 84 hours per week. He began to see himself as the next John Steinbeck. Meeting people at the theatre, he got an opportunity in journalism with D C Thomson in their Glasgow Office.

He became a  crime reporter, listening to the police band radio in the office and rushing off to the crime scene for the story – even reaching a murder scene before the police and passing on evidence to them. His journalism was a success and he went from strength to strength. His employer ensured his salary was adequate for him get married, set up home and take out a mortgage, telling him who to see and what to do, and increasing his salary as required to cover all the costs.

He became the Hon Man on the Sunday Post when it sold 2.5 million copies each week, this is now 100,000. He was able to, at the Post’s expense, travel round the world first class by air, having all sorts of adventures which he reported on each week in the popular Hon Man column.

The next talk for the society is on Monday October 15 at 2pm in Brodick Hall when David Anderson will talk about his life as a civil engineer in the electricity industry and its history. David is a past president of the Scottish branch of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Former Hon Man Bob Tomlinson at the society meeting.  No_B40historical01