Sunday 1 December 2013

Paul McConville

It has been a bad week. Obviously the thoughts of all decent people are with those affected by the Clutha Vaults tragedy. Much has been written elsewhere about that, more eloquently than I could ever do, so I will not add to it.

But on Friday as I sat down to consider the subject of my usual Sunday blog, which inevitably will be about the White Paper, I had already decided that I also had to say something about a more private tragedy which affected me earlier in the week. In the end I decided that tacking it on to a more political piece was inappropriate so it will stand alone.

On Tuesday evening, towards the end of the Celtic Milan game word started coming through on twitter about the death of my friend, professional colleague and fellow blogger Paul McConville.

It was so sudden and unexpected that at first I couldn't be sure it was true. Tragically, it was. Suddenly and without warning of any sort he was gone, from what is suspected to have been a heart attack.

I've known Paul for more than twenty years, since he was a trainee solicitor with Hughie Trainor in Coatbridge. Although his work then took him to Courts beyond Airdrie, he remained a frequent visitor there and much regarded company by all at the local bar.

It is no secret that he had had a difficult professional career, with the collapse of his own firm several years back leading him to suffer a bout of acute depression and the inevitable round of tabloid publicity that is attracted to any lawyer "falling down on the job". But, contrary to the later malicious allegations of those who set out to harm him, he took nobody's money. His business failed and he became ill. That was all. And later he himself spoke bravely and openly about that period.

But it was in the aftermath of that trauma that he established almost a second life as an internet commentator through his "Random Thoughts re Scots Law" blog.

If you consider the topics listed on the right hand side of his site you will see the breadth of the subjects he covered. Always with wit; regularly with unique insight.

He is however probably most famous for his chronicling of the various machinations at Ibrox and in the Courts before and after the liquidation of Rangers. This was territory he must have known would lead to him attracting attention and abuse in equal measure, abuse that shamefully continued even after his death. Anybody who thinks political blogging in Scotland should not be for the faint hearted should look for a moment at some of what goes on around the Old Firm. And threats in that context cannot as easily be shrugged off as internet bravado as those made in the political world.

To all of this however, in life,  Paul brought the same drollery and common sense rationality that surrounded him in the "real" world. Truth and accuracy would allow him to triumph in argument time and time again.

It even lead him to some sort of minor celebrity among the "Celtic family", although it was truly the case, as he never ceased insisting, that his first and truest football loyalty was always to the mighty Albion Rovers.

It was a celebrity he never sought, for he remained above all a modest, deeply religious, family man. He wrote only a couple of months back about the joy of celebrating his 20th Wedding Anniversary with an openness and patent sincerity, indeed, in the proper sense, love, that would have defied most West of Scotland men to express.

Any death is a tragedy but the death so young of such a patently good man is almost impossible to come to terms with.

My thoughts are obviously with Val and his girls. The days ahead will be difficult for them. But when we gather for his funeral hopefully the size of the attendance there will give them some appreciation that their great loss is one shared, in an inevitably smaller way, by so many others.

Rest in Peace big man. You'll be missed.

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