Tributes made to Dr Steve Crockett

Dr Steve Crockett.
Dr Steve Crockett.

Following the death of Dr Steve Crockett, local man Brian Adams has penned a tribute to the local doctor.

Mr Adams contacted the Herald after the celebration of Dr Crockett’s life which took place in Fraserburgh.

Following his death and joining with others in a packed Dalrymple Hall in Fraserburgh I said goodbye to Dr Steve Crockett at a celebration of his life held recently.

Members of his family, his friends and former colleagues of the Central Buchan Practice shared with us the richness of the man in song, recollection and in his poetry.

Tears were shed, of course they were, but in the main we were invited to laugh again at stories about Steve which without doubt is what he, a humourist and skilled story teller himself, would have prescribed.

When former colleague, Dr Dan Mcleman spoke he just had to mention the word “timekeeping” to set us off for Steve was far too interested in people to stick to anything close to the usual ten minute consultation rule.

If there was some need beyond the thing that his patients presented to him at his surgeries then there was plenty of time given to bring it out but if there was nothing else ado then after the medical stuff an unhurried cleck about anything in your life would ensue – your golf game, the hearst, himself if you asked how his wife Carol and the kids were doing.

My best story about Steve is about when I first met him in the mid-eighties at a consultation at the Strichen surgery. Unknowing of this medic’s sociable ways I was, therefore, unprepared and, as can be gathered from the story, not really in the mood for them either.

I had fallen pretty ill and sure that something serious was afoot. After a couple of days of it I staggered into his surgery. Kilted in Clan Gordon, as often he was, he listened and looked and then put a thermometer under my arm. Then he sat back wanting to know about me. I was in full-time writing then and the best fun I was having was with the Adam Plainstane columns I wrote for the Fraserburgh Herald and the Buchan Observer from which not much of Buchan’s public goings-on was safe from a sometimes waspish going-over.

I gave out that much and Steve, a Plainstane reader (though maybe not then a total fan – I had said terrible things about his beloved New Pitsligo the previous week), wanted to know all about it – how I had got started in journalism, where I got my stories from, etc.

Any other time sure that I did not need to be rushed to an intensive care ward I would have been flattered by a doctor’s interest in my work and would have been happy to chat all afternoon but nauseous and sore all over I wanted to get him back to my potentially terminal illness.

“What about this then?” I said, pointing to where his thermometer had been for some time.

Steve took the hint. “Right”, he said as he reached for the instrument and then, upon reading it, with that toothy Steve Crockett grin I was to get to know, “wow, look at that - you’ve got flu!”

I went home laughing at myself and feeling better already - and wanting to know more about the character I had just met.

The knock-on effect of Steve’s leisurely consultation style was that there might be a lengthy build-up of patients in the surgery waiting room. But wait patients did, not just because he was loved but because he was trusted as a great doctor. It was as well that his colleagues at that solid Central Buchan practice, Drs Mcleman and Robertson, were just as highly regarded clinicians for if not something would have had to be done.

I got to know Steve outwith the surgery as many of us did for Steve was involved in lots of stuff – public speaking, drama, the arts in general. He knew fine that he was a great public speaker and knew fine too that he enjoyed being so but never was there a hint of the man taking himself seriously. Robert Lovie, who sang at the celebration, had us laughing again when he described a typical top-table greeting from Steve, a joyful put-down of them both - “weel, Robert, anither Burns supper!”

His friend, Charlie Scott, also reminded us of that sense of humour. Steve, he told us, had given his tumour a name. “Oh mince” will have to do here.

He wrote beautifully and sometimes powerfully from romantic one-liners such as his “Duvets; secret coves where snugglers meet” to an angry denunciation of blood sports in his Glorious Twelfth. “Gory, gory twelfth of August what a bloody way to die”. In an anguished anti-war poem he lashes out at the “ecclesiastical cant” of the established churches. Then, with the same pen (famously always filled with green ink) he was not above the couthy. Though maybe in the lines that follow below from his A Cornkister he has his fun with that culture.

Steve was many things, certainly he was a one-off but, for me, above all he was a great humanitarian and it was a privilege to have known him. It was announced at his celebration that money would be raised for cancer research from the sale of a book of his works and one imagines that the sum raised will be considerable.

“As I cam doon tae Strichen toon the win wiz bla-in’ wild

It wiz bla-in’ sleet like tatties

That hid been biled, an’ biled, an’ biled”.