Ian Adamson: Trade trip ruse showed he loved a laugh, even at his own expense
Dr Ian Adamson was a scholarly and warm-hearted friend with a terrific turn of phrase and a great sense of humour.
When he was Lord Mayor of Belfast, I accompanied him and several council officials on a trade trip to the US.
On the way across in an Aer Lingus jet, Ian was poorly with flu, to the point that we wondered if he would be able to carry out his civic duties.
However, he perked up a little in Washington when he visited the Press Club and was warmly received.
Then we all went off on a hectic leg of the trip to Dallas, where Ian had important engagements with business leaders.
I was in the delegation as a committee member of a group aiming to form a Thanksgiving group in Belfast, modelled on the successful Thanksgiving Square in Dallas. We were joined there by the Duke of Abercorn, who backed the initiative.
Our first engagement was with the Dallas Georgian Society, and I was at the front of our delegation with the Duke behind me. He urged me, with impish fun, to take his place, and several people solemnly addressed me as "Your Highness" before they realised who was who.
Ian's rich humour was visible the next day when he delivered a rip-roaring promotional speech about Belfast to a large business group. However, the Duke was taken aback when he was introduced as one of the very few "Dooks" in Britain, including the "Dook of Windsor".
That night Ian was unwell and I was told to take his place at a high-powered dinner in Dallas. I sat at the place marked 'Lord Mayor of Belfast', and no-one turned a hair.
I chatted amiably to a glamorous young woman on my right wearing a diamond bracelet, and soon discovered that she was the daughter-in-law of Ross Perot, a one-time US presidential candidate.
I told Ian about it the next day, and he laughed as loudly as his flu would allow.
Ian was the kind of man who saw the humour in a Belfast journalist doubling up for him and being accepted in Dallas as "the Lord Mayor of Belfast".
He will be greatly missed.