It was a special night where nothing went exactly to plan but everything turned out much better than expected. We were at Waterstones in Byres Road and I had a bet on with publishers Lyn and Laura that, as the rain fell and temperatures dropped, we wouldn’t get more than 17 people through the door for my book bletherings. There was an entire quid at stake and, I have to tell you, I lost my bet within minutes of the door opening.
Some old colleagues were among the first to arrive; John Thomson and Steve Ansell (both ex BBC) and John MacCalman (ex Radio Clyde), then came my oldest brother Frank and his wife Anne. Gosh, had it really been that long since we’d last met up? Next through the door was rugby and broadcasting legend, John Beattie and we had a good old natter about the new BBC Scotland TV channel and the weekly media review on Radio Scotland. I began to lose count as more and more people filed past me. I spotted Drew Carson from Radio Haver and a whole gaggle of familiar faces from the Lochwinnoch cultural establishment. Pretty soon the three rows of seats in the middle of the bookshop were almost full. At this point, all we were missing was the host as Nation Radio’s Suzie McGuire had been caught in traffic. Much relief all round when she made her entrance and hit the ground running with a well-researched introduction that even included a mention of my son’s recent team triumph in the Scottish Press Awards. As he modestly acknowledged the applause, I had to shout over ‘Hoi. This is supposed to be my night, you know!”
Suzie finally brought me to the front and quizzed me expertly about my book and then invited me to read an extract. This being Glasgow, I had decided to take a risk and had chosen the section about how, in the midst of my dad’s funeral, I got word that the crime writer Ian Rankin had written an unflattering poem about me. My reading necessitated repeated use of the f-word. No, not the bad f-word. The word that rhymes with Granny. The one that Americans use instead of ‘bum’. OK, it was ‘fanny’. Happy now? It went down well and afterwards the question and answer session gave me a chance to rant about the decline of local commercial radio and why the politicians seemed to be doing little about it.
Lots of books sold and signed and as an added bonus for the night, the gifted photographer, Douglas Timmins, famous for his portraits of Glasgow characters, had arrived with his camera and managed to herd Suzie, Lyn, Laura and myself into some sort of order.
As I say, a special night.