Ron Pell's tribute

I've got three minutes to tell you everything I know about Simon Crookshank. Well…

Simon was an extremely talented journalist and a complete professional; the two don't always go together.

He was witty and clever and he lit up every newspaper office he worked in, from Western Morning News to The Sun, Mirror, Today and finally the Express.

He loved to laugh and to make people laugh. 

He was a master of political correctness. 

He punctured pomposity without mercy. 

He enjoyed a good argument which usually ended with one of his Basil Fawlty rants because he couldn't say serious for long.

He was my good friend for 40 years.

We used to go sailing and golfing together. We once spent a week together in an open boat, being blown about the Thames estuary living on Sarah's Cornish pasties. We ran hard aground at about six o'clock one morning, a mile offshore, and had to wait hours to float off again on the next tide. Simon became fond of telling a highly-embroidered story about my morning ablutions on Whitstable sands which put several people off eating oysters for quite some time.


Modest about his sporting achievements, Simon might not have mentioned that he was once North Cornwall surfing champion: though you could have expected something of the kind from his baggy shorts, which he claimed were the original prizewinning pair. 

He was a much-respected member of Westerham Golf Club, and a sad irony of his illness was that it kept him from taking his turn as vets' captain.

Long before he joined Westerham we used to infest the courses around Orpington, including Woodlands Manor, which misguidedly took me as a member. I had a regular Tuesday round there with another member, some sort of a Scoutmaster who had a tedious habit of always hitting the ball in a straight line, and Simon joined us one day for a threesome.

He behaved himself quite well until about the 15th tee. Then with a mighty mis-swipe he sent his ball over the perimeter fence and out of bounds into thick woods. 'Playing three,' he said through his teeth and hit another powerful hook into the same woods, only further. It was when his third drive vanished into the jungle too that there was an embarrassed silence on the tee.

But Simon knew how to deal with a ticklish situation. He flung his club away, threw himself to the ground and lay there kicking and screaming and beating his fists. The Scoutmaster looked at this performance for a little while, then turned to me and observed: 'He's a little excitable, your friend, isn't he?'

The Scoutmaster didn't turn up for the next game. I never saw him again and I didn't miss him.

But I'll miss Simon. He was unique, a genuine one-off, and we can never forget him.


© 2005-2022 Alastair McIntyre