Skip to content

CIBSE is currently upgrading its IT systems to improve core customer functions and increase efficiency and effectiveness. This will mean some website services will be offline until Monday 25 July. Help

Jack Pirie and the Suit

Steve Hennessy remembers Jack well and while reflecting on Jack's many attributes, wanted to share one of his moments when he and Jack were in Hong Kong. Its a wonderful story about Jack stealing the show on the night. Please read here for the full story.

Jack touched the lives of many people and he will be remembered for many things. I took over from Jack as ANZ Chairman, and not long into my tenure, we both found ourselves in Hong Kong at a major CIBSE ASHRAE conference. At the gala dinner we were placed on the head table and told that as VIP's we would be expected to address the audience with either a karaoke number or a joke. We were both shocked - me more than Jack.

Neither of us could sing so karaoke was out of the question. I know hundreds of jokes, but when someone tells you that you have to get up in front of a huge audience and tell one, your mind goes blank. For a while I could not remember a single joke. Jack on the other hand composed himself quickly, calmly mounted the stage, took the microphone from the stand and regaled the audience with the tale of a hapless Scottish tourist who was hoping to purchase one of the cheap tailor-made suits that Hong Kong was so famous for - it went something like this....

A wee Scotsman walked into the tailors shop and requested a made to measure suit. Fabrics were reviewed and a price negotiated. Then there was plenty of measuring before the Scotsman was told to come back the next day as his suit would be ready. At the agreed time he returned and tried on the new suit. "Och" he said, "the left trouser leg seems to be a bit long'. 'Ahh,' the tailor said, 'you need to bend your leg a little (Jack demonstrated the movement on stage). 'Och' said the Scotsman, 'the right arm looks to be a bit long'. 'Ahh,' the tailor said, 'you need to bend your arm a little'. (Jack folded his arm across his chest). 'Och', said the Scotsman, 'the jacket feels a bit loose,' 'Ahh,' said the tailor, 'you need to hunch up and bend forwards' (by this time Jack was bent over with a leg out to one side, and an arm out to the other). 'How does that feel now?' asked the tailor. 'Fine,' said the Scotsman, 'I'll be on my way.' (Jack proceeds to strut around the stage like Quasimodo). As the Scotsman is stumbling down the street he passes two elderly ladies. As they pass one lady says to the other, 'did you see that poor unfortunate man?'. 'Yes I did,' remarked the other, 'mind you, he had a lovely suit'.

Jack returned to the table with great applause, leant forwards and said to me, "I've been waiting to tell that one for ages".

Needless to say he wasn't just a VIP. He was the star of the show.