THE SAD NEWS reached me from Burbank, California this week that a much-revered old friend and correspondent of mine had passed away.
Jim Murtha was a man like no other – totally unique. A good man, an intelligent man – and one who possessed the heart of a lion.
His genuine, raw courage was a sight to behold in the way he faced cancer on more than one occasion. I recall him reporting to me that the cancer had returned in his little finger, if I recall correctly,, and his saying to the doctor, ‘just cut the f*cker off, doc, I don’t need it’ – as if it was an absurdity for the cancer to challenge him in such a ridiculous way.
Jim brought a different way of thinking about things in general, to read his words was absolutely inspirational.
I can barely believe that cancer had the temerity to return to his world but it did and for that I shall be eternally sorry. I guess Jim had already had his fun kicking it’s ass on several occasions and ‘opening a can of whoop-ass’ to it as he would tell us.
What a man. What a great, great man. He will be sorely missed but never, ever forgotten.
My deepest condolences go to his family, friends and all those who loved him, of which there were many.
Rest in Peace, Jim. The memory of your courage will live on.
A few words I wrote back in 2008 about Jim’s story and in particular, his Marathon in Dublin:
More than two weeks on and I have barely known what to say about the passing of my friend Ali Tait, so shocked was I at his death. it seems so many feel the same way and during these recent days there has been an avalanche of love and respect for him like non I’ve seen in the Hibs community and wider social media among people that knew him.
I called Ali a friend and met him a few times. Like many others we talked and shared comments online frequently. One evening we were pondering our shared background with both our families originally having people from Fisherrow. We mused that, living very close together, our grandfathers couldn’t have failed to know each other and be friends – just like we had become a couple of generations on. I couldn’t have been prouder or more happy at that thought because I loved the guy.
Ali’s politics, football favours and music tastes are documented widely and it’s perhaps for those things that many people will remember him. They were certainly all things that bound he and I together. Those of us who were fortunate enough in life to have met him and known him will remember his tremendous warmth and intelligence. He was an entertaining man and one you always wanted to listen to at length, so much did he have to say.
The next time I’m in Musselburgh I’ll raise a glass in his favourite, Staggs, to our old friend.
I’ll sink another one to you in our favourite Cafe Royal too if that’s alright, Ali?
God rest and keep you pal. There’s none like you.
Deepest condolences to his dear wife, Tiina, his family and friends and all who knew him and loved him.