Willie Hunter: former columnist at The Herald

The journalist Willie Hunter was an original. He could be quirky and sometimes perverse as well as extremely funny, and it all made him a joy to read. What some of his readers didn’t notice was the sheer professionalism of his writing.

He knew that language is too precious to be maimed by long words when short ones will do and that an anecdote about people tells more of the human condition than philosophical argument.

By training, he was an economist and he started on the financial pages of The Herald. For a time, he had to produce what he frankly regarded as boring leading articles on the state of the UK economy. It wasn’t his thing.

He had little time for the financial establishment, or any other establishment.

Part of the strength of his writing was that he was good at puncturing pomposity.

Educated at Paisley Grammar School and Glasgow University, he spent 31 years on The Herald as columnist, diarist and business editor, and is fondly remembered for his spare-time contributions to the sports pages.

He was once dispatched to Dumfries to report a Tam O’Shanter recitation competition. Having fortified himself for the ordeal, he fell asleep on the train and woke up not in Dumfries, but at London Euston.

As only Willie could, he wrote himself out of it. Instead of an account of competitive poetry, he penned an open letter to the editor, beginning: “Sir, I confess. This time, I have gone too far.” It is an immortal memory.

He loved St Mirren. He loved football.

And, tellingly, he loved the fact that sometimes these two loves were mutually exclusive. He’ll be a miss of open-goal proportions.

Morrison Halcrow and Hugh MacDonald

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