Euan Ferguson: Part reporter, part poet, full of wicked honesty…

Euan should be writing this. Because it would be a better piece. It would be complete with just the right selection of sentences to sum up a mood, an artistic rhythm that takes you from paragraph to paragraph with an eager step of sheer, hungry enjoyment, a slick of humour, acid at times, cutting through any pomposity.

또는, as he might have put it, “writerly bollocks”.

Euan was part reporter, part poet. His preferred method of communication relied on nothing more complicated than black ink and white paper. And with those he drew pictures as vivid as Goya.

His friend from his days at the Press and Journal in Aberdeen, the cabinet minister Michael Gove, describes him as someone with a “genius for friendship” who “wrote like a dream”. Which he did.

“We disagreed on a lot, but I loved him,” Michael told me of the man “born to be a journalist”.

Euan died last week – and the dull thud of those four words is such that I suddenly feel that I could do with leaning over to ask, 예를 들면, someone like Euan, as I did so often when working together at Scotland on Sunday and later at the 관찰자, “what should I say now?” And he would suggest something – usually over a fug of smoke as he sparked up his latest Benson & Hedges – which would clear up my muddy writing and make it work.

Probably something like “that was careless”.

Which it was. Careless for all his friends who know that this certain person has disappeared too soon. And his mother, Elspeth, who spoke with simple, raw emotion: “Euan broke all the rules and lived life to the full.”

I owe Euan my career – given that, 예, he could be arsed to meet a green young journalist who, 30 여러 해 전에, was looking for a job. He introduced me to the “hauf and a hauf” (a pint and a whisky chaser) and irony.

For Euan, writing was a rapier with a tickling stick attached. The sharper it was, the more people would read it, and the more people would be informed – and maybe a bit angry – about the various “flat-footed numpties” (™E Ferguson) and impossibly dim bureaucrats with “room temperature IQs” (™E Ferguson) that populated too much of the world for Euan’s liking.

He had a preference for the unassuming heroes who went about their business, people he celebrated with quiet insistence.

Many of his friends I am also lucky to count as my friends, 처럼 Ruaridh Nicoll, himself a very fine journalist and once editor of the Observer Magazine, 과 Bella Bathurst, writer and, 지금, carpenter. We were a tight bunch, many years ago.

“He behaved like Robert Burns, emerging from stoical, clerical Scotland like constrained anarchy,” Ruaridh said. “I recall a sentence he used somewhere, ‘to fight and fuck, laugh and lie’.”

And Bella – who was his girlfriend, once or twice and more…

“Do you remember, every year together in London we’d have those not-even-slightly traditional Burns suppers?” she asked, bringing a smile as we remembered the raucousness of the annual event (one guest’s final flourish was to reveal her knickers complete with flashing lights from a standing position in the middle of the dining table).

“A lot of supper, very little Burns, and everyone who wanted to would bring a song or a reading. The suppers were Euan’s idea, I think partly based on the musical evenings in Edinburgh he’d known when he was young.

“There was one year when he turned up late (Massive Breaking News Event/in the pub) and since by that stage I was cooking for and waiting on 22 사람들, I was less than friendly.

“Everyone else did their thing (John Cooper Clarke, Billy Connolly), so eventually it got round to Euan. He cast around in his pockets for a piece of paper which had never been there, squinted, realised that he couldn’t remember anything except two lines of the Internationale, and then grabbed the nearest thing to hand, which turned out to be an empty whisky bottle canister on the table in front of him.

“He read the marketing blurb on the back of the canister out loud – just the marketing blurb, nothing else. He read it very slowly, with great delicacy and seriousness, in an Aberdonian accent. He brought the house down.”

We drifted apart, Euan and me, over the years. And Euan himself, with his usual stripped and faintly wicked honesty, admitted to such loneliness at times that, following a stroke, he didn’t pluck up the courage to call anyone for two days.

He was loved – Euan Ferguson. Loved in the detail that I can still remember the opening lines of Euan’s pieces. Loved in the detail that Bella found out about engineering and boats because he, 잘, loved that stuff. And she still loves that stuff today.

Loved in the detail that Ruaridh and I laughed until the tears streamed as we remembered the days with Euan at the centre of all our attention, regaling us with some fine tale (“Did you know I once went out with an artist who made ceramic moulds of her vagina? 여기, I’ve got some in my bag”), light falling on his face in the middle of this bar or that.

Like some ancient Vermeer.

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