(I wrote this a while ago. The week of Charlie’s death in fact, but I’ve just realised it lay in my drafts folder. I never published it here, although I did elsewhere. So, for completeness sake, I share it here now. Apologies if you have stumbled upon it elsewhere.)
I’ve been plucking up courage for several days now trying to put metaphorical pen to paper about the life of my old chum Charlie Robertson.
I’m not a lifer (as a friend/colleague) so perhaps others are better placed to wax lyrical about him, but he had a profound effect on my life at a particularly impressionable time.
I was a ‘suit’ at The Leith Agency when Charlie appeared. A returning migrant from London, not just London – BB bloody H – where he’d inspired Vorsprung Durch Technik.
This wasn’t a planner, this was a rock star. Cue Mick Hucknell gags (OK, that’s it out of the way. No more. Ed.)
We weren’t worthy, except, actually, we were.
Because Charlie wasn’t the London wanker we feared.
Charlie was just Charlie.
A gifted 5-a-side footballer, cut from the same jib as Jimmy ‘Jinxy’ Johnstone (albeit ‘Jinxy’ was from the wrong side of Charlie’s tracks).
Charlie was a storyteller, a provocateur, a walking brainstorm. My job was to get the best out of him and we seemed to work really well. The trick with Charlie was to spot the ball.
The Golden Ball.
Because Charlie would fire out ideas by the shedload, you just had to be in the room at the right time to say “STOP, that’s it Charlie.” And I felt I had a knack for that.
Our finest hour was pitching for Irn Bru, an account The Leith Agency holds to this day. It must have netted them millions by now. Charlie was the planner, I was the suit, Gerry was the creative director. It was awesome.
We came second to BB bloody H. John Hegarty dazzled the Irn Bruers with his charm and sophistication and then went on to produce a pure minger of a commercial, but then Coke knocked on their door. Irn Bru got booted from BB bloody H and they came back to Leith. We were ‘a close second’ they had said and it was true.
I left soon after but that wasn’t the end of my relationship with Charlie. He worked, through Red Spider, with 1576 from time to time. We met for beer and red wine from time to time.
Charlie was the real deal. A proper advertising genius. A colossal brain and a charm to go with it.
Client, no people, loved Charlie. Me one of them.
We will miss his elegant charm and his clever wit. But most of all we will miss his humanity.
Bye Charlie. It was great.