I cannot say I knew John Oaksey very well, but what I did know was very good.

We first met – if that does not sound personally too grand – when we were both writing for the Telegraph; Oaksey as Marlborough (his nom de plume for the Daily), Edmondson as Borough Boy (mine for the Peterborough Evening). He could have been rather grand himself during the course of our interview, but he wasn’t.

Years later we both travelled as part of a Cheltenham-organised group to the north edge of the Pyrenees and Pau (in the years before Tinky Winky, Dipsy and Laa-Laa also came along). John was one of the lads and fun.

Most of all I remember an incident at Royal Ascot, where I managed to smuggle my father-in-law into the press room for a quick drink. Max went outside with his lager and unfortunately took occupation of a section of rail that had become Oaksey’s own. By the time I attended, there was a barging match going on and Max was beginning to learn that ‘My Noble Lord’ had not won a Whitbread and Hennessy by letting anyone get up his inner.

Oaksey’s passing means another former winner of the Horserace Writers’ & Photographers’ Association Journalist Of The Year will write no more. He was plain old John Lawrence when he became the second winner in 1968. Now he joins a list of the decorated deceased who provoke a smile at their very mention. I remember some of them.

My father-in-law learnt that Oaksey didn’t let anyone get up his inner, on or off the track

I soon made an impression on Richard Baerlein (The Guardian/Observer, 1973). Well, on his shoes actually when I trod on his toes on my very first day. Baerlein was a mystical figure for me, as my dad bought The Guardian. I still recollect a Baerlein-inspired headline from June 1973. “It must be Morston” read the banner above his Derby preview. And it was, at 25-1.

Baerlein knew how to enjoy himself and would often repair to Bentley’s of St James’s, where they claim to shuck upwards of 1,000 oysters a day. Which is just as well as our brave correspondent was known to wash down (with champagne) 12 dozen of the little bivalve molluscs at one sitting.

Another scourge of the seven seas was Chris Poole (Evening Standard, 1979), who used to send panic sweeping through the Maine lobster community on his many trips to the Breeders’ Cup series. Whenever he was in the States, Pooley was mistaken for American actor and folk singer Burl Ives. Chris would always patiently explain that he had not, in fact, played Big Daddy to Paul Newman’s Brick in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, but it was never accepted.

“Why you talkin’ in that Limey accent, Burl?” was the usual response.

The dissolute Michael Seely (The Times, 1980 & 1989) managed a few Breeders’ Cups, most notably in 1989 at Gulfstream Park, where an offshore dip with his friend Tim Richards was the springboard for the day. Or at least it was until the morning that Seely emerged from the Atlantic depths with a jellyfish clamped to his bald head.

Seely was forever losing his dentures (on one occasion the late Graham Rock drove over them). Another car-park drama unfolded on the Knavesmire, where Seely drove straight through a picnic, oblivious to the dumfounded diners and flying sandwiches.

Then there was Bill Garland (Press Association, 1983), always diminutive and even more always dapper. Peter Scott (The Daily Telegraph, 1975) was cut from the same (pinstriped) cloth. ‘Hotspur’ did have his moments though, notably on one occasion returning from a boozy book launch when his taxi was stopped by an officer of the law. Scott rather perplexed the constable by conducting his part of the conversation in Latin. Illegitimi non carborundum.

Finally of my cognizance among the departed Journalists Of The Year was the great George Ennor (The Sporting Life, 1982). George was the straightest of reporters but, as President of the HWPA for over 20 years, he composed hilarious newsletters, his version of the Dear Bill missives in the Private Eye. No racing figure was safe from lampooning and jockeys and others were given nicknames such as ‘Lionel’, ‘Scarface’ and the ‘Poisoned Dwarf’.

George occasionally helped me out with ideas for a column and he has done it again. Thanks George and, if I’ve made any errors, I’ll be along personally to apologise in due course.