Generous. Gregarious. Gallous. Great.
That was Guy.
I came to know my great friend, Guy Robertson, initially as a TV icon – upon winning STV’s The Business Game, for his fledgling agency, GRP, not long after its launch in 1986. Soon enough I came face to face with him, 33 years ago, in the Tait and Mclay Golf Cup held at Burntisland GC, where his victory celebrations were cut short by some wee ned stealing his clubs from the car park.
It was to be the start of an unforgettable friendship peppered with hilarity, passion and shenaniganery.
You see, Guy was a one off.
He had no peers.
Nobody was like Guy.
Of his time.
Of his hard-earned cash.
Guy was one of NABS, our industry charity’s, greatest supporters. Every year, for the last 15, he’d pull together his legendary team of rag tags and bobtails, that he had somehow coerced into the long trip to Edinburgh, even though most of them had nothing to do with advertising. But Guy was paying, because he wouldn’t see NABS short. (And travelling First Class on Scotrail. Always. The only person I knew that did that.)
One of the last times I met him was when his team took part in the inaugural NABS ping pong tournament at Maggie Mays in Glasgow’s Argyle Street. He was there to win (just like he was at the music quiz, and twice did) but sadly the callow youth saw off his beer swilling buddies in the semis.
And, not surprisingly perhaps, he was a mainstay of, and major contributor to, the longstanding Golf Day.
His spirit was defiant and anti-establishment (despite his posh-school upbringing and dubious respect for too many men in blue) but kind, caring and just, you know, inspiring.
He blasted into his term as Chair of the IPA with gusto and no end of enthusiasm. An enthusiasm that was ultimately extremely rewarding for him as he sat shoulder to shoulder with adland’s great and good and concluded, aghast, that he was just as capable as most of them.
It was through this that he met his, and GRP’s, beloved mentor; Adrian Vickers. They made an odd couple in truth, but it was a relationship that thrived on Guy’s generosity, gregariousness, gallousness and greatness. Adrian played his part too, genuinely enthralled by Guy’s wit and his willingness to soak up the great man’s greatness.
And it’s a funny old thing, but that rubbed off on him in an unexpected way, because he’d recently begun applying those mentoring skills with the most important person in his life, the light of it really, his daughter Jemma, and in such a way that he found a renewed passion for the business.
After graduating from Aberdeen, with a degree in Business and Marketing, Jemma formally joined Guy’s new business, GRA Independent Marketing and Advertising last year and has displayed the same vigour in building the business with him as he always did and she fully intends to build on his legacy in the years to come.
Guy and I relished our roles as self-proclaimed advertising outliers. We both eschewed the establishment but, in our own ways, eventually embraced it.
We liked to sit at the back, giggling, talking when the talkers talked. Being naughty schoolboys. Sneaking that wee extra glass of free wine. Him in his blazer. Me in my soup-stained t-shirts. Sara Robertson shooshing us with a heavenward look and a barely concealed smirk.
Guy lit up rooms.
He couldn’t help it. Flashing a pearly smile at the ladies. First at the bar for the boys. Telling tales. Rarely of woe.
Even when he had to break the news of his, Garry and Iain’s partnership finally succumbing to the financial crash-fuelled recession he spiced the gloom up with glee. So much so that I was moved to share, on my blog, his message to friends to tell us of ‘GRP no more’.
He began his valedictory note thus:
Warm felicitations from the West End of Glesga,
And ended on a typically self-deprecating note…
So, thanks for reading my rambles and apologies if it comes across as somewhat self-indulgent, I guess that’s because it is!
(The full email is posted here.)
I don’t need to explain to any of Guy’s many friends why that great Glasgow adjective, gallousness, was Guy’s very essence.
Guy was gallous, it’s as simple as that. And I mean that in the most respectful of terms.
To me, as an Edinburgher, it means bold. It’s immutably Glasgow and Guy was immutably Glasgow. I was jealous, deeply jealous. When we were on the town together gallous Guy made me feel like his accountant sidekick. I was a great admirer and always savoured his dazzling personality, wit and repartee.
His personality sometimes shrouded his greatness.
A quick thinker. A sparkling wit and a gift for selling. All givens.
But also strategic, opinionated, scholarly and a great lover of his art.
GRP didn’t thrive on his personality. It thrived on his substance.
And greatness comes in many forms. Guy’s greatness encompassed the many qualities that I’ve shared already but true greatness, to me, comes from the heart, from the essence of a good human and Guy was as good as they get.
Guy, your tragic and, frankly unscripted, denouement was in keeping with a life that refused to follow convention.
Your legacy will be one of greatness.
One of uniqueness and, once the grieving is over, one of joy.
Thank you for every moment my friend.
I will miss you terribly.