My Friend Willie Donaldson

Not long after I started working at the Independent, it became one of my duties to edit a highly unusual, and very, very funny, column called William Donaldson’s Week. It would arrive in the form of a fax of three pages of typewritten copy, and if I had any queries about it, I’d have to phone the writer. And so it was that I came to know Willie Donaldson, and to count him as a friend. Our weekly chats on the phone about his column and life in general were priceless. Soon I even became one of the many characters that inhabited William Donaldson’s Week – Roger from Chicago.

As time went on, now and again I’d meet Willie for a long, usually liquid, lunch in a wine bar in the Fulham Road, near his flat in Elm Park Mansions. We’d spend hours talking about anything and everything, with me trying and usually failing to keep up with whatever Willie was on about. He’d sit there with his Hamlet cigar and his glass of cognac, a twinkle in his eye, and challenge me – intellectually, philosophically, morally. I will never forget those afternoons in west London.

My friend Willie died last week. I’d not spoken to him for ages, much to my regret. I feel lucky to have known such an extraordinary character as Willie.
His obituary in The Guardian
Terence Blacker remembers him in
The Independent

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