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I’ve known Gerry Samuel a long time, ever since Aberdeen University.

We were both in the first-year Geology class, and Gerry went on to become a geologist in the oil industry. My own career skewed off on a different trajectory: I was always more interested in the people side of things, and I drifted into Human Geography and then Historical Geography. That’s what I do now at Falkirk Uni.

Oilman and academic. But we kept in touch. Whilst he was based in Aberdeen that was easy enough, and we got together quite often. During that time he married Gina, and they had two children.

Then he was recruited by one of the big players. He knew his stuff, so they sent him off to sniff out new areas of interest, often in out-of-the-way places. He and Gina moved to Calgary, Alberta, which I hadn’t thought of as a centre of the oil industry. After that meeting up got a bit more tricky, but whenever he was in Europe he’d let me know, and we met in some odd places. For me it was a good excuse to travel too.

This story really starts several years later, when Gerry emailed to say he was going to be in Edinburgh for a few days that September; there was a conference on the outlook for the North Sea oil sector. I offered to put him up at my cottage out by the Carron Reservoir, but he was booked into a five-star hotel in the city centre. However, he had the Thursday afternoon and evening of the conference free, and suggested we get together then.

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