It would come out of the side of his mouth with a tiny hint of a grin even as his face remained impassive, and you’d be trying hard not to laugh out loud.
It could be during a gig, an awards ceremony, a speech by a pompous “industry representative” from the media or music, or up the back of a bus taking a bunch of journos to an interview in Sheffield or New York or the Gold Coast.
There was nothing nasty about it but the line would cut through and remind you that Iain Shedden wasn’t on his first rodeo and could see through blather. And boy had he witnessed some blather.
Ask anyone who tried to sneak a dodgy interview, a weak album or a questionable artist on the superannuation tour past him and they’ll tell you how Iain would chop quickly through the blather: no, this isn’t worth a story, thanks, but I’ll pass.
But the thing was, Iain had never turned into one of those grumpy, bitter figures who “know” that anything good has already been done. He loved music, he loved writing, though he loved talking about the former much more than he did the latter.
He was still getting excited by the day job because this job we somehow had created for ourselves wasn’t like other jobs; it was one we did out of passion, all the while knowing how lucky we were to have that privilege.
Generous with his time and his knowledge, he would offer advice to new kids on the block easily, while with fellow old farts like me it never felt like rivalry because we were fellow converts to the best religion around.
And Iain loved the night job, still being a musician, still connecting with the thing that inspired him in the first place and the people he enjoyed almost as much as he loved his family, music makers.
There’ll be no more chances to have a drink, and a second one – and then decline late in the night just one more, when Iain was still going strong and we lesser mortals (i.e. the non-Scots) were calling time while we could still move our legs.
Oh what the hell, I’m going to have a few drinks in his name at the next gig, industry shindig, awards night or wherever someone is playing and talking about good (and bad) music.
To Iain. A lovely bloke. A good journalist. A very fine human.