Last Friday night in Blantyre I had, as we say in Ireland, the craic.
The main reason for that was Paul McConville.
The big fella was his usual erudite, urbane self and provided the capacity crowd with his unique sideways look at the craziness of Planet Fitba.
I formally thanked him for his help with my work in the acknowledgments section of Downfall, but it wasn’t nearly as fulsome as it could have been.
As the Rangers saga reached its dénouement, he provided a free translation service for me as I struggled with the complexities of insolvency law in Scotland.
The first time we met was in the summer of 2012. I was on stage with John Fallon and Archie MacPherson for a Q&A in Coatbridge and the message was passed to me at the interval that Paul McConville was at the door.
He was in person as he was electronically: affable, personable and clearly enjoying himself.
I introduced him to the man who organised the Q&A session as I just knew that Paul would be a natural at this stuff.
Last Friday night for Paul Brennan and I was another night on stage with a consummate pro.
What we did not know was that it would be the last.
Our loss is nothing beside that being felt right now by the McConville clan and my thoughts are with them as these words are written.
Very few of us leave behind any imprint other than the one within our immediate families, but Paul McConville’s passing is undoubtedly felt by the many people who only knew of him through his work as a legal blogger.
It was his patient, quiet and unarguable logic that convinced me that, despite the eloquent advocacy of the late Paul McBride QC, the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act was pish.
Ok, Paul McConville didn’t deploy the “P” word, but he often provided a translation service for his dumb sidekick on stage into the labyrinthine ways of the legal mind.
He told me that the new flagship legislation was wrongheaded and unworkable and, as with so many other things, he was largely vindicated.
He was undoubtedly accustomed to being the smartest guy in the room and he dealt with his dullard detractors on Planet Fitba with humour and good grace.
In the age of the username and the pseudonym, Paul McConville was out there.
Many of his detractors were heroically anonymous while hurling appalling invective at him for the heinous crime of telling the truth about Scottish football.
To some he was a “Rangers hater”, when actually if they were capable of knowing anyone on a human level they would have known that almost certainly Paul McConville never hated anyone.
There is still something surreal in his passing.
There was apparently no illness.
The man I was on stage with on Friday night appeared in excellent health and in good spirits.
The last person I spoke with at Blantyre Columba Club was Paul.
We had developed a ritual way of signing off a conversation on the phone over many, many calls, and we carried it over into face to face partings.
I am not a person of faith so I am not pressed to look for some mysterious celestial chess move in all of this.
For me this is just so unfair.
My thoughts are with Val and the girls at this time.