Bertie Crampsey

My mum’s cousin Bob Crampsie, known in the family as Bertie, died this week.

He was 78 and suffering from Parkinson’s, so it’s not a huge surprise. What was a bit of a surprise (but not really) was that the papers were full of tributes to him and that everyone proclaimed him a genius and a really nice guy. It’s not every day one of your relatives gets his obituary in The Times!

I’ve grown up hearing stories about “Cousin Bertie”, who was that humble thing, a History teacher (and if you know me, you know I have my tongue firmly in my cheek there, having been heavily influenced by several of them). But he was also a virtuoso pianist, like his mother and aunt (my gran), a football expert and commentator, and a Brain of Britain (literally), amongst other things.

One day, not long after I had met my husband-to-be, he was talking about football and, on a whim I said, “Oh, so have you heard of Bob Crampsey?”

He immediately launched into an impersonation, since another of cousin Bertie’s quirks was a highly distinctive voice.

I was amazed. I had had know idea he was so well known. (My father is not your typical Scottish man i.e. he has less than no interest in football.)

I’m not even sure if I ever met the man, but I feel like I knew him, largely because of his memoir, “The Young Civilian: a Glasgow Wartime Boyhood” which is a great read, full of detail and the family humour I recognise so well. It’s also full of details about my grandmother, since she was a big influence on him. Oh, and there’s a picture of my mum as a two-year old — or the back of her head, anyway.

So now I’m pestering my mother to write a ‘memoir’ post of her own about her big cousin. Over to you,


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