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May the People's Champion now rest in peace

It was a memorable night just over three years ago at Easter time. That's when I met one of our greatest legends.

Frail, gaunt and sickly looking, but I will always treasure that night in my mind's eye.

My couple of mates and I bought you a couple of pints of Guinness each. We didn't mind. We were just privileged to be in your company.

I asked you some questions about mad and bizarre situations when the tabloids made you front page news and you gave me plenty of remarkable home truths and answers.

Even though you were ravaged by the effects of throat cancer and your voice was a soft whisper, I still hung on like a child - enchanted and overwhelmed by your every word.

You left the bar for a few minutes and I thought, 'Is this the ignorant Alex I heard so much about?'

Maybe you went across the street to check your bookie's docket? I will never know.

I was in the toilet when you came in and said, "Thanks, big man, for the couple of pints and the company."

You truly were the People's Champion.

May you, at last, rest in peace.

ANDREW BEATTIE

Belfast

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