Fred’s son Pete recalled a meeting his father had with one of Scotland’s famous sons in his autobiography. One day Jock Kirkpatrick, the manager of the Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow, brought a friend to Fred’s office for an interview. This gentleman was bushy-haired and bespectacled. He seemed to be a rather dreamy sort of person, but a very pleasant one. Pete was instructed to be present to take notes.
“This,” said Jock, “is Mr J L Baird from my home town, Helensburgh. He has a proposition to put to you.” Baird thereupon explained that he was engaged in perfecting an invention which would revolutionise the whole entertainment industry.
Fred listened to his discourse for a long time, completely absorbed. Then he crushed out his cigar and pulled down his waistcoat at the front – a characteristic gesture. At that time he had a successful pantomime running at the Glasgow Coliseum.
“Let me get this straight,” he said “If I understand you correctly, you are at the point of completing an invention which, by the mere turning of a knob, will enable people all over this city to see – let us take an example – my pantomime, while sitting in the comfort of their own fireside?”
Mr Baird confirmed that such was the case.
“And you are short of a few hundred pounds, which you wish me to provide?”
The great inventor nodded, gravely. Fred rose and paced thoughtfully about the room.
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do.” he said at length. “I’ll give you a thousand pounds to take a hatchet to the bloody thing and throw it into the Clyde!”