You just never know who you're talking to. Years ago I was running a message across to the Lerwick offices of BBC Radio Shetland. There was a woman I didn't know there. She asked me when I was going back to Bolton. I was being mixed up with my room-mate and fellow reporter on the Shetland Times, Denis “The Bolton Wanderer” Mann. I said I was Paul Cowan. The stranger said she knew a Paul Cowan. I was aware of the guy; he'd been the editor of the Stornoway Gazette. His boss was famously eccentric, to say the least, having reputedly once fired his whole reporting staff on one paper, and having once offered me a job without interview. Anyway, I reeled off a bunch of stories about this fellah's supposed crazy behaviour. It was only then that I asked the stranger how she knew the man in question. “I'm his wife”, she said. She left that hanging in the air for a few long long seconds and then added “But you're right about him, I'm getting a divorce”.
Then there was the time that Lindsay Herron was explaining to me how he'd got his job on the Highland News in Inverness through his dad's freemasonry contacts. “The interview was even held in the Masonic Hall,” he explained. I liked Lindsay. I'm not sure if I bothered to tell him that the job he'd got had been promised to me. I was just waiting for a start date which never came through. At the time I was mystified. As I say, you just never know who you're talking to.