Saturday, 2 April 2016

Celebrating William McIlvanney 25/11/1936 - 05/12/2015

William McIllvanney at the Bloody Scotland opening event in Stirling, September 2012

I could not let today go by without saying a few words about a great man.

A memorial service will be held this afternoon to celebrate the life of William McIlvanney, a wonderful writer, thinker and raconteur, and an inspiration to us all. The service will take place at 3pm in the Bute Hall at Glasgow University, Willie's Alma Mater. Mine also.

My last memory of that hall was when I collected my first degree there. Not like Willie in English Literature, but in Mathematics. Little did I think back then that I would one day become an author (although I was always a secret story teller). Nor that I would have had the pleasure and privilege of meeting one of the writers that I would read and love: Willie McIlvanney.

When we began the Bloody Scotland festival, Alex Gray and I were already aware of how much we owed to Willie as a writer, but also as a crime writer. His novel Laidlaw, featuring Inspector Jack Laidlaw … ‘a man who just happens to be a policeman’ ... inspired many of our great Scottish crime writers, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid among them.

Against this background, we were determined that Willie would take his rightful place as the Godfather of Tartan Noir at that first Bloody Scotland celebration of Scottish crime writing in September 2012.

Despite his relative absence from public view for a number of years, the Albert Hall in Stirling was filled with readers delighted to have the opportunity to see and hear Willie again. Since then his books have all been brought back into print, where they should be.

There will be fine speeches today in the Bute Hall by fine writers. Knowing Willie’s great sense of humour and his consumate skill at self-deprecation, I can imagine, were he with us, the fun he would be having at his own expense.

Then again … maybe he will be.


(Service details : William McIlvanney : Memorial Service 3pm Saturday 2 April 2016 )