From There… To Here

The social history of Wester Hailes


Two weeks ago we ran a post about an interview in the Sentinel, back in 1986, with Robert Maxwell, the newspaper owner and tycoon who, in his time, was just as famous and powerful as Rupert Murdoch.

Following that, we were very fortunate to be able to make contact with Stewart McRobert who conducted the interview entitled “The Thoughts of Robert”. Stewart has kindly taken the time to set down for us his memories of meeting the great man and it provides a fascinating postscript to the published piece. Many thanks Stewart.

“Although by no means the biggest shock in the hacking scandal, it was still a surprise when Rupert Murdoch described his time in front of the UK Parliament’s Culture, Media & Sport Committee as “the most humble day in my life”.

After all, humility isn’t the first quality you’d associate with a globe-bestriding press baron. And there was certainly none on show when I came face-to-face with Robert Maxwell after he’d “saved” the ’86 Commonwealth Games.

It was a long time ago and memories fade, but a couple of impressions remain. The first is that during our interview Cap’n Bob was charm personified. He was boastful, of course. But his bravado was always delivered with a smile and in an entirely reasonable tone.

On the other hand, before we sat down to talk, he displayed another side to his complex personality…

I’d met his entourage in the reception of a city centre office block (Canning House, if I remember correctly). We got in a lift and then searched out a space to carry out the interview. Maxwell led the way, with his retinue trailing behind.

He spotted a room and barged in – I was a bit surprised to see several high powered looking businessmen in the middle of a meeting. They were taken aback; he ignored them.

Cap’n Bob sat down and made himself ready for the interview. The businessmen’s shock turned to sheepishness, they gathered up their things and traipsed off to find another room to carry on their meeting.

I’m no psychologist, but I believe these two episodes provide an insight into the character (and success) of Robert Maxwell and his like: one minute arrogant, rude and dominating, the next sweet, good-natured and easy going.

I guess the ability to be humble comes later when you’re over 80 and one of your businesses is found to have been involved in some very shady practices.”

– Stewart McRobert, 2011


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