“Andrew’s still here,” said Robert Cox, as he paid tribute to his late departed Buenos Aires Herald colleague and friend, at a memorial ceremony hosted by the British Embassy at its stately residence in Recoleta on Wednesday night.
And so he was with an entire room devoted to his numerous books (still being read by Cox among others), over half a century of photographs and other memorabilia, while the main area of the upper floor was filled by friends and colleagues of Andrew Graham-Yooll over several decades with three generations of his family, including his children Inés, Luis and Isabel all over from Britain.
Host Mark Kent was at pains to be the British rather than English ambassador when he paid tribute to Andrew’s Scottish origins by organising the presence of a bagpipe band. Andrew's family kindly donated the envoy a bottle of Scotch whisky – with the journalists' face emblazoned on it.
The ambassador recalled that he had last met Andrew just a few weeks before his sudden death regarding July’s Global Conference for Media Freedom in London – Graham-Yooll died soon after arrival in Britain just four days before that conference and on the eve of his granddaughter’s wedding, a tragic timing adding extra poignancy.
Former Argentine-British Community Council chairman John Hunter BEM (as of last year), a cousin of Andrew’s, then described how closely the author of The Forgotten Colony had worked with the community but from that point onwards the tone of the tribute turned from profound respect to an even deeper human warmth as first Cox (just arrived from South Carolina with his wife Maud) and then Andrew’s three children spoke.
In his emotional remarks, Cox rolled the clock all the way back to 1966 when a 22-year-old Andrew joined the Herald newsroom and soon carried the newspaper into a new level of journalism fully a decade before it gained world fame for its stance against Argentina’s brutal 1976-1983 military dictatorship. But behind every successful man there is always a family and a woman, he continued, in reference to the three children and their late mother Micaela Meyer before concluding by reminding everybody present how Andrew continued to be part of their lives.
Fittingly enough, those three children then had the last word on their father.
Inés, whose family home was Andrew’s most frequent base when in Britain, concentrated on the fond father and grandfather rather than the journalist and writer, while her younger sister Isabel read out a ‘Spanglish’ poem composed by Andrew with lines alternating between English and Spanish. Luis then tried to distance himself by jokingly saying that his father had been his idol when he was four and the opposite when he was 14 – any glance at his own journalistic career beginning with a couple of years at the Herald and extending to various trouble-spots around the world (just back from checking out Hunter Biden in the Ukraine) will show that the apple does not fall far from the tree.
Last but perhaps not least, the few remaining issues of the 100th edition of the Buenos Aires Times (where Andrew was a regular columnist), entirely dedicated to his memory, were also distributed around the salon – inadequate for the demand and we left the Embassy residence with the conviction that somehow we should arrange a reprint as our small own contribution to Andrew’s memory.