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

 The Jury Room  (Week 4)                                                                           Posted 19th April 2014

O J Simpson and the trial of racism                      From The Herald : Sat 11-Apr-1998 

WHAT about that O J Simpson? What's the latest on him?

It is O U Wilson who says it but it could have been any of us. That is the kind of question we often ask in the Jury Room. The conversational climate there is what you might call sub-topical. We tend to deal seriously with things not in the full heat of their immediacy but after a cooling-off period.

That's right, Dave the Rave says. Ah haven't heard anything about him lately. You ever notice that about news stories? They drum up your interest in something and then drop it for something else. The public's head must be full of unfinished stories. Like soap operas that went off the air just when you got involved in them.

Like that Eldorado, Greyman says. Remember that? Mind you, taking that off was an act of philanthropy. Should've carried a government health warning, that one.

So what's the news of him? Gus the Guru asks. (To read on click here.)



 At the Bar                                                                                       Posted 19th April 2014 

The pub was quiet. When the big man with the ill-fitting suit came in, the barman noticed him more than he normally would have done. The suit was slightly out of fashion yet looked quite new and it was too big for him. He could have come back to it after a long illness. Yet it wasn't that either. Whatever had happened to him had tightened him but not diminished him. The char­coal grey cloth sat on him loosely but that looked like the suit's problem. You wouldn't have fancied whoever the suit might fit to come against the man who wore it.

He came up to the bar and seemed uncertain about what to order. He looked along the gantry with a bemused innocence, like a small boy in a sweet-shop.

`Sir?' the barman said.

The big man sighed and shook his head and took his time. His face looked as if it had just come off a whetstone. The cheek-bones were sharp, the mouth was taut. The eyes were preoccupied with their own thoughts. His pallor suggested a plant kept out of the light. Prison, the barman thought.

`Uh-huh,' the big man said. 'Fine day. I'll have.' It seemed a momentous choice. 'A pint of heavy.'

He watched the barman pull it. Paying, he took a small wad of singles from his pocket and fingered them deliberately. He studied his change carefully. Then he retreated inside himself.

Making sure the patch of bar in front of him was clean, he spread his Daily Record on it and started to read, the sports pages first. His beer seemed to be for moistening his lips.

(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.
Click here for the latest Dispatches updates






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