Alex Cameron, who has died at the age of 74 after a lengthy illness, was a mince and mash man with the sophisticated style of a Savile Row socialite who insists on silver tray service.
Although he encountered some difficulties in obtaining his culinary speciality in places such as Sofia, Montevideo, CÃ³rdoba, Bratislava and Kiev, surprisingly he did succeed on occasion through his determined powers of persuasion.
A vigorous and hard-hitting sportswriter with the Daily Record, he would serve prime steak, often rare and regularly with a touch of mustard, in his “Candid Cameron” column, which was compulsive reading for the thousands prepared to argue his views in offices, factories, dressing rooms and boardrooms throughout Scotland and farther afield.
He thrived in controversy. He stirred it, mostly with tongue in cheek. Confrontation? Yes, please! Alex Cameron was passionate about his profession. His life was sports journalism.
Recreation? Forget it. As chief sportswriter of a popular tabloid newspaper in Scotland, his focus was to explode his opinions, thoughts and advice to those who appreciated authority and experience in what they read.
I knew Alex for more than 50 years. He first emerged in print on the Scottish Daily Mail, where he became sports editor, before moving to the Record in Glasgow. His beat was worldwide – Olympics, World Cup finals, Commonwealth Games, world title fights, European football and, primarily, the fishbowl that contains Scottish football.
He was the most generous journalist I have known. He was first to the bar to buy anyone a drink, and sometimes when relishing a piece he was proud of, last to leave. I shared a room with Alex for some weeks during the Moscow Olympics in 1980. It was an experience. He was not the most organised person and he was just a little forgetful. Did you see The Odd Couple? Guess who was Oscar! Alex was the only journalist in the vast press hotel in Moscow to enjoy maid service. Me.
It was no surprise to any of his colleagues that he lost his breakfast vouchers on day one, or that he would get himself lost on Moscow’s intricate underground system.
I can recall a typewriter on the luggage rack of a train leaving a station in England with the owner frantically shouting in vain from the platform.
The number of coats he left in restaurants, hotels, bars and sports arenas, never to be seen again, became legend.
I remember arriving in Madrid with Alex for the final of the 1982 World Cup. At the hotel reception Alex demanded a room with a sea view. It was with some difficulty that the receptionist pointed out that the Mediterranean was about 300 kilometres away. Alex was not impressed.
Eccentric? Maybe, but the Daily Record reaped every benefit from his energetic personality.
Faddy with his food, hence his fixation for the safety of a plate of mince and tatties, Alex liked to spend meal times in heated debate and argue his corner, like it or lump it. His years as a television interviewer and commentator made him readily recognisable to the public at large.
However, it was the words of his daily column that gained him wide respect. Retirement was not easy for him to accept.
He will be remembered by all those who travelled the world with him during his expansive career as a helpful, generous and engaging companion. I certainly will miss my monthly lunch with a close friend, who was known simply as “Candid”.
Vodka, tonic, no ice? Cheers, Alex.