A haphazard record of experience, feeling and thought . . .

 The Jury Room  (Week 3)                                                                   Posted 6th April 2014

There are two sides to every generation gap.    From The Herald : Sat 04-Apr-1998

In the third of this innovative series, the regulars of The Jury Room try to come to terms with the alien remoteness of the young, whose values alter with such erratic rapidity that those of a more sedate intellect fear for the immediate future and call for another round.  

You can't do that! How often have I told you? You can't do that!

Liz (sometimes called - but never in her hearing - Miss Tonguelash) has finally exploded. Expert observers (and, given enough drink, everybody is an expert) have seen this coming since she appeared through from the hotel and went behind the bar of The Jury Room. She has been moving about, arranging things already arranged, and washing glasses already washed. Harry Kari, demoted instantly from regular barman to redundant bystander, is dodging her snow-plough presence like an elephant trying to learn the quickstep.

It is a good idea to dodge Liz in her present mood. There is obviously something she is going to say and you'd better hope she doesn't say it to you. Now that she has finally said it, it's like a klaxon going off. (To read on click here.)



 Chapter One                                                                              Posted 6th April 2014 

IT IS AS IF, he would think, who I thought I was has dried up like a well and I have to find again the source of who I am.

HE WOULD REMEMBER THE JOURNEY back home from Grenoble through Heathrow Airport, the uncertainty of it, how it is better to travel in doubt than to arrive, and how every stage of his returning reminded him forcefully that the man who was going back to Graithnock was still the boy who had left it, and that the summer of the kiln continued to happen in him.

He would be puzzled by repeating moments of that summer, their small persistence, amazed at the disparity between the triviality of the incident and the longevity of its endurance, like coming upon an octogenarian mayfly. They came, it seemed, of their own volition. No doubt they were occasioned by some sequence of thoughts which he could not retrace. But they were for him not logically explicable. Whatever purpose he had been imagining himself to have in wandering whatever corridors of the mind, it seemed the purpose had been ambushed. It was as if a door, in some corridor down which he was passing, were suddenly to open for no reason, spontaneously.

And there in a long-forgotten place, lit by a long-dead sun or by a light-bulb which had burned out years ago, were places and people he had known. The places were as they had been, unchanged. The long-abandoned furniture was neatly in place. The people were still talking animatedly about problems long since resolved, still laughing, still saying words that he could hear, still brewing tea that had been drunk. They could be young who were now old. They could be alive who were now dead.

(To read on click here.)


This website features writing by award-winning author and journalist William McIlvanney. One or two new Dispatches will be posted regularly and will be archived on this site. A lot of the writing featured here is new and unpublished, although extracts from Willie's existing body of work - journalism, essays and short stories - will also be included. All writing -
William McIlvanney.
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To read Doug Johnstone on William McIlvanney click here.
Willie and his website are featured on page 3 of S on S. Click here.

To read Susan Mansfield's article on William McIlvanney click here.

To read Allan Massie on William McIlvanney click here.


To read Hugh Macdonald on William McIlvanney click here.



At the Haye Festival on Sunday June 2nd 2013, Irvine Welsh interviewed William McIlvanney. Check it out here. After one particularly dark question about the socio-economic conditions in eighties Scotland, Irvine lifted the mood with: "Anybody got a question about puppies, bunnies & kittens?" Love it! And what an infectious laugh!
 The Laidlaw Trilogy
 When they were first published, they  won Silver Dagger awards and were  nominated for Edgars. With Canongate  Publishing due to re-launch the Laidlaw  novels, starting  in May 2013, We  feature  extracts from the novels,  selected and  introduced by Willie, as  well as a few interesting extras.
Sean Connery
 "Any attempt to understand such a life  can’t seek to be definitive.  What it can  possibly do is like archaeology , sink  some speculative shafts into those  times and, from what it finds, elicit  some impression of the nature of the  person, arrive perhaps at the salient  features of the life...".
 "I'm on a late-night train leaving Central  Station. I have the compartment to  myself until the train begins to pull out. I  can hear the scuffling sounds in the  corridor outside that announce the man  with drink taken who has just made it.  Experience tells me he will soon be my  travelling companion. He soon is....".
TV-ing it...
 "At one stage, being even shorter of  money than usual, I agreed to do a TV  column for the Glasgow Herald. I  enjoyed it but, finding I did virtually no  other writing during that time, I soon  gave it up. A few samples may give a  flavour of that phase, round about 1979  - 1980, I think."
What other people say about William McIlvanney

While putting this site together for Willie, I decided to add some quotes of what people have said about him and his work over the years. Being a modest elder statesman, Willie was less than enthusiastic about the idea. However, despite Willie's objections, I have gone ahead and included the quotes anyway. They make interesting reading.
Neil McIlvanney

‘This is a man temperamentally incapable of writing bad prose’ – Jan Bell

‘Illuminating and thought-provoking’ – Irvine Welsh

‘Delightfully funny’ - Sunday Telegraph

‘On almost every page it offers matter for reflection’ – Scotsman

‘A natural of the transfixing phrase’ – Sunday Times

‘Fiercely evocative and witty with it’ – Literary Review

‘Inspiring and harshly funny’ – David Hughes

‘Brilliant’ – Ken Dunion

‘McIlvanney writes with appealing grace and thoughtfulness’ – Daily Telegraph

‘Telling observation and clear, perceptive writing’ – Spectator

‘Maturely reflective and insightful’ – Rosemary Goring

‘Hilarious, moving and incredibly articulate’ – Irish Times

 ‘Beguilingly brilliant’ Sunday Times
2013 - A Busy Year

William McIlvanney's 2013 calendar:
20th April 2013 – Glasgow
Aye Write 19.30 - 20.30
2nd May Waterstones West End, Edinburgh event
16th May Waterstones Argyle Street, Glasgow event
31st May – Bristol
Crime Fest 14.50 - 15.40 Panel Event: The Underbelly of Crime Fiction with Michael Stanley, Antonin Varenne and Tim Weaver. Moderator:Craig Robertson.
1st June Bristol Crime Fest 12.30 - 13.20 Main event: William McIlvanney and Denise Mina
Interviewer Jake Kerridge
2nd June – Hay-on-Wye Event
Chair: Irvine Welsh
20th July – Harrogate, Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, chaired by Ian Rankin 9.00 - 10.00am
16th August –
Edinburgh International Book Festival
13th to 15th September – Stirling, Bloody Scotland
  e-mail: william.mcilvanney@personaldispatches.com