McIlvanney stars in Book Festival

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IT was a tough old gig, up against Joanna Lumley at the Borders Book Festival, but William McIlvanney pulled it off with eloquence, style and humour, writes Kevin Janiak.

He kicked off with a reading of one of his poems, Initiation, which he dedicated to his dad, on the eve of Fathers’ Day. Click on the video above to be as mesmerised with it as the audience were on the night.

William McIlvanney, one of Scotland's greatest novelists and the godfather of Scottish Crime fiction, comes to the Book Festival for the first time, with his bestselling novel Laidlaw, which is republished this month.

William McIlvanney, one of Scotland's greatest novelists and the godfather of Scottish Crime fiction, comes to the Book Festival for the first time, with his bestselling novel Laidlaw, which is republished this month.

Presented by Kirsty Wark, the show saw McIlvanney chat about the relelease of his Laidlaw novels – including the possibility of some new ones in the pipeline; and he gave his views on the upcoming independence vote, saying that although he has not yet heard any real debate that allow him to make a reasoned decision, he was ready to vote yes, due to a “backs to the wall mentality”.

It was the perfect end to a fantastic day at the festival, which also saw Lady Claire MacDonald talk about her life with food; a magical performance of the Lay of The Last Minstrel with a top-notch cast including Lumley, Downton Abbey actor David Robb and his wife Briony McRoberts; and a tearful yet hilarious presentation from Phylidda Law, actress and Emma Thompson’s mum, who spoke of caring for her own mother when she had dementia.

Today is the last day of the festival, which sees the likes of Tom Holland, Neil Oliver, Penny Junor, Kate Mosse and festival favourite John Sessions.