It was 1968. I went to Edinburgh University to read Scots law. My father’s best friend was the Sheriff of Dundee, so it seemed like a good idea. There was a scrap of paper on a noticeboard advertising lunchtime charades at Dramsoc’s premises. And that’s where I met Ian. A young man who looked old beyond his years, Ian McElhinney (Mac), performed a charade which I gathered to be a play by Shakespeare, and when Mac mimed tossing a coin, a blond god along the row from me exclaimed: “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.”
The blond god – tall, loose-limbed, beautiful but with bad acne – was Ian Charleson. During that first term we – Ian, Mac, David Wilson (now Rintoul) and myself – did a pile of plays, workshops, readings, whatever. When I went home for Christmas I told my dad: “I know what I want to do. I want to be an actor.”
“That confirms it,” he said, “you’re a fucking poof.” And that made me cry. Mac and I moved into a flat and hosted countless evenings of charades and bridge. And Ian would mostly be there. He was fun: gentle, caring, a dry wit. He would pick up his cards and mutter “fuck-my-old-boots’’.
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