General Lee and friends bid farewell to Hazzards of the Scotsman newsroom

NEWSPAPER leaving events are happening at such a rate these days it can be hard to keep up.

Take those assembled at The Tun in Edinburgh on Friday.

A chance to bid farewell to the Scotsman's home affairs star Michael Howie, sports veteran Mike Aitken after 36-years, and senior assistant editor Dave Lee.

And all the while catch up with some of those who'd left previously, and those about to.

It was a nice touch allowing Mike Aitken to say his goodbyes in print.

Michael Howie was on great form too, seemingly genuinely excited by the travel adventures that await him – a bit more exotic than that of his Glasgow colleagues preparing to flit from their grand city centre offices to the southside trenches.

But it was Dave Lee's leaving speech that really stopped me in my tracks.

It was a private event, and he can recount the details if he wants too.

Suffice to say a few editors, ex colleagues and bean counters got it in the neck.

And it struck me, just how passionate he remained about the job he was about to leave.

Sure, he had that 1000 yard stare, the kind of look from characters in the series Band of Brothers (we're paratroopers son, we're supposed to be surrounded).

But with it, the respect and friendship of all who had gathered to say farewell.

If memory serves, Dave was still on the Edinburgh Evening News desk beat when I first trucked up for work experience and shifts.

It was probably his spiky hair at the time I recall best, then the reassuring words of encouragement and bad jokes.

I think it was the confidence building from Dave in those formative years that helped keep me in the trade at all, a kind word after no doubt another bollocking from on high for some sloppy copy or whatever.

Now, for whatever reason, he's gotten out. 

Like so many others.

Look around the newsrooms today and ask just how many of those same guiding hands, with the drive, the people skills, the experience and most of all, the respect, are still left standing.

There's still a few. But sadly it's still an ever decreasing circle.

But in this case, at least, a newspaper's loss is undoubtably the real world's gain.

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