Fifteen years ago, almost to the day, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling cut VAT from 17.5% to 15%.
It was in the aftermath of the economic crash which led the banking industry to the edge of collapse.
Having bailed out the banks, his eyes were firmly set on rejuvenating the economy and a cut in a sales tax was a gift to Christmas shoppers.
I remember well walking the length of Princes Street looking at poster after poster in the windows of retailers declaring “Thanks, Darling.”
Little did I know how much I’d have to thank him for.
Learning he’d passed away from a journalist’s text looking for comment was a real gut punch.
70. It’s just too young.
So much life to live, so much to look forward to as his children, now very firmly adults forged forth in life.
Very few knew he was ill, a huge number will mourn his loss.
When I joined the Labour party in 2003, he was my MP.
Our constituency meetings took place upstairs in a community hall in Mcleod Street in the shadows of Tynecastle stadium.
The walls of the stairwell were adorned with black and white pictures of community leaders.
We all wryly smiled as we climbed, looking at a picture of a very handsome young Alistair Darling fashioning a jet black beard with snow white hair, even in his late 20s as an Edinburgh councillor.
His Edinburgh central seat was abolished in 2005 so a lot of energy was poured into campaigning in that general election and that’s when I really got to know him.
‘He sought my thoughts and input’
At first glance, Alistair was every bit the Edinburgh lawyer. Professional, poker face, strong posture.
Extremely careful with words. Always favouring fewer; simpler, delicately placed.
Dear god, he had a wicked sense of humour though. Dry, whip smart but never to my mind cruel.
Few can say they’ve both saved the economy and the union, on different days, years even.
He would never have claimed that but it’s still true.
There’s so much to remember from 40 years of public service, more than half a life that was all too short.
To Scots though he will perhaps be remembered most for his role in Chairing the Better Together campaign during the independence referendum.
This was a role he felt duty bound to take given how critical the economy was likely to be as a campaign issue.
By this point, I was in Parliament, in my early 30s and serving as Labour’s education spokesperson.
He brought me into rooms full of older wiser heads and always sought my thoughts and input.
I accompanied him to both of the seminal TV debates on the referendum in final weeks of the campaign.
I was also in the tortuous rooms helping to prepare him beforehand.
‘We had to let Alistair be Alistair’
He was not a guy naturally predisposed to role play, drilling lines or prepping rebuttal and one liners.
He also wasn’t hugely fond of the public side of public life but knew it was essential part of the job and the stakes were high.
Soon it became apparent that we had to let Alistair be Alistair.
To let him prosecute the case against independence in his own words and he did so with such precision during the first debate he terminally punctured Alex Salmond and the Yes campaign on key issues like the currency and the Bank of England as a lender of last resort.
The years that followed the referendum were horrendous for Labour and I found myself turning to him for advice. I wish I had done it more.
That advice was often sought on visits to his Edinburgh home. Oh the stories their dining room table could tell.
To be in his house was to be welcomed in to the heart of his family. The warmth bounding out, hospitality like no other.
‘Giant of a man’
There are many people who will have known him far better than me, but I will remember him so fondly and with such respect.
He was a giant of a man, fiercely clever and funny.
Loyal, quietly encouraging. Always gently nudging you forward.
But he was also ultimately a very private man who was utterly devoted to his tremendous wife Maggie and his children Anna and Calum.
What a sorry loss.