Most of those who read this will already have learned, earlier today, of the tragically young death of Dr Bob McLean.
No one person will ever be able to pay full tribute to his life for, even to me, it had so many aspects that I could not hope to follow them all.
I didn't even meet him until after his time at Aberdeen University and, not being, despite best personal effort, at an NUS affiliated University, much of what he did within NUS, although later spoken of warmly by others, did not really impact on me at the time.
His work at the Edinburgh Museums and Galleries was even something that you had to work out for yourself as Bob was never one to boast of his own role in the numerous ground breaking events and exhibitions he had been key to.
And as for his stamp and coin interests..............each to their own as they say.
But all of these things, which others would have regarded in themselves as major life achievements, were, in the end, secondary to the great cause of his life, the fight for a Scottish Parliament.
Bob was one of the least sectarian politicians I had ever met. He was in the Campaign for a Scottish Assembly when association with the SDP/ Liberal Alliance, never mind the SNP, was regarded as bordering on treason by many in the Labour Party. He realised however that the defeat of the 79 proposals had come about precisely because an insufficiently broad coalition had been built in their support. He also realised that this very coalition needed to embrace a much wider enthusiasm in the Labour Party itself. It was to that he set his hand.
His masterwork, to my mind, was never his acclaimed PhD thesis on Michael Collins, or even his History of the Campaign for a Scottish Parliament but two pamphlets he wrote for Scottish Labour Action under the title "Labour and Scottish Nationalism" in which he tried to show both how Home Rule had been so central to the Party's mission since its inception and also how Labour and what ultimately emerged as the SNP had not always been the mortal enemies they became.
He was a natural recruit to the founding of Scottish Labour Action and Chair of the organisation throughout its existence, not least because his reputation as a constituency activist and election agent was always a shield against internal opposition based on accusations of disinterest in the wider Labour cause.
Above all however he was a man who believed that if you were not going forward you were inevitably doing worse than standing still. For many years we would speak almost daily and his opening line was always "What's happening", for he always believed something must be happening on which we ought to be trying to exert some influence. And no-one had more ability to exert that influence than Bob.
For he was always a great strategist. He saw, long before any of the rest of us, the necessity of a Constitutional Convention, and of Labour playing a full, but not arrogant, part in that Convention's deliberations.
And he also saw the compromises that might be necessary to bring about the ultimate goal. "Eyes on the Prize", quoting Dr King, was his suggested title for one of the SLA Conference briefings. No-one had a greater sense of that ultimate prize than Bob.
Friends will know that sadly his health had been failing in recent years and although his death at such a young age is of course a shock it is perhaps not entirely a surprise. He was always a "big" man in a way that did not only embrace his intellect and that undoubtedly took a toll on his health, as did the death of his beloved mother to whom he devoted so much care and time. But it is also often the case that those who burn brightest do so for a shorter span. Never more so than here.
No-one who ever met Bob McLean would ever forget him. And when the history of his time in politics comes to be written, neither will Scotland