Farewell to the man who beat up James Bond and danced better than Travolta

As legacies go, it’s a pretty darned good one.

Tuesday, 31st May 2022, 10:09 pm

My stepdad, Jimmy, passed away last month at the age of 91.

He was the man who once beat up James Bond.

Jimmy was at school with Sean Connery, and their schoolyard scrap made it into one of 007’s biographies - even if the author didn’t quite get his name right.

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Jimmy Anderson - the man who beat up 007 (Pic: Evening News)

It’s a story we told again last week at his funeral service. It still makes me smile.

According to Jimmy it was much ado about nothing and was stopped before anyone won or lost.

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According to the renowned journalist Craigie Veitch, it was “the best part of 12 bloody rounds before the janitor and teachers managed to break it up.”

Even allowing for journalistic licence, it’s a great yarn.

Jimmy didn’t just beat up 007, he also outlived him, but Alzheimer’s took them both.

It’s a hellish illness. Day by day, month by month, the lights gradually dimmed.

In the end there was just peace.

At his funeral, we all wore a sprig of green in honour of his beloved Hibees - he was a lifelong, long-suffering supporter.

“Load of bloody rubbish the lot of them” was his usual assessment as he watched from his armchair with a bowl of chocolate eclairs next to him on the table.

We listened to Sunshine On Leith - the most achingly beautiful song that can set your spirits soaring even as the tears run down your cheeks - and recalled all the good times.

And there were so many.

It says much for the man that he welcomed two teenage boys into his house when he married my mum.

He was an insurance agent with the Co-Op, and took out old penny policies for myself and my brother, handing us the proceeds when we turned 18 telling us to spend it on what we wanted.

It was done without fuss or fanfare - the way he lived his life.

A G&T and the roar of laughter amid good company long into the night nourished him, as did the many travels and adventures which are catalogued in numerous photo albums and videos in our family home.

And he loved to dance.

Jimmy grew up at a time when people learned to dance - a skill we’ve forsaken for either shuffling on the spot or jumping around like halfwits.

Physically he was a big fella, but he moved with grace and lightness, and when the jive came on, the dance floor was his.

My memory tells me the floor of Carrickvale Golf Club cleared as soon as the first note sounded. This was Jimmy’s dance.

He spun my mum left, right and centre while he barely moved.

He was poetry in motion. He was cool, stylish and no-one, absolutely no-one, could hold a candle to him.

And when you dance better than Travolta, shoot some decent rounds of golf, and dine out on the fact you once thumped 007, then it’s safe to say you have not a good life, but a great life.

A quiet man with a great laugh - one you’d recognise in a heartbeat in the most crowded of rooms - he was still able to dance with my mum in the care home. One last birl with a lovely man.