Archive for February, 2010

John MacPhail Law 1951-2010

February 14, 2010

I have just lost one of my oldest friends, John Law. I  met John in 1969, if I remember correctly, when we were both students starting out at Glasgow University. He graduated, married Janet, and worked briefly as an English teacher, but teaching wasn’t really what he wanted to do. He wanted at that time to write, and write he did, poetry, plays, songs, in Scots. Words were in  his blood – his father (also John Law) was a published poet. But though much respected, he had to return to work – this time in the computer industry. He set up his own company, Silicon Glen Ltd. (I think he coined the phrase), based in Blackford, Perthshire. I was a co-director, and moved to Blackford to work with him, in Blackford, staying at his house. I have many memories of this time, including helping to re-roof the business. We never made it to the heights in the business (we did all right, buying, repairing and selling parts of Data general minicomputers, and later selling microcomputers), and I eventually went back to working in a University. John meanwhile, had converted me to Scottish nationalism: he had been active in that area for many years, becoming both an election agent and a councillor. But his other love was language: Lallans (or Lowland Scots), which was his native tongue. (I should be writing this in Scots). John and I remained  friends: when I married, and sold my house, and was temporarily without a home (our new house was not yet finished) we stayed with him and his family.

I recall so many visits to his house, so many friendly meals, so much generosity. I recall his 50th birthday, I recall him singing there. And many years of parties on January 1st, with many friends from the past. There is so much more to remember.

He died yesterday: shockingly suddenly, and utterly unexpectedly. He leaves behind his wife, Janet, his daughter Anna and husband Alan, and grand-son Charlie. We are all shaken and bereft.

(Addendum, added 23 October 2010): John Law’s last work, which he was working on at the time of his death, is an updated version of Gavin Douglas’s Scots translation of Virgil’s Aeneid, entitled The XIII buiks o Eneadoso the famous poet Virgil. The work was completed by Caroline Macefee with whom he had been working closely. This posthumously published free e-book (and .pdf as well) is part of the Scots Language Centre’s website.