I was extremely privileged to be invited to attend the Remembering Service for Michael Wills at The Apex Hotel in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket yesterday, along with Jeana. We knew Michael through his wife Elspeth who both Jeana and I worked with, and for, at different times in our lives.
Michael was, is, one of Edinburgh’s unsung heroes. Having retired from a distinguished career as a librarian at Edinburgh’s Heriot Watt University he took to retirement with relish.
Michael was a striking physical specimin. He suffered for many years from Ankylosing Spondylitis which may have been a consequence of a broken back many years ago. Whether or not this is the case I know not, but either way it meant he walked with a pronounced stoop. His gregarious nature and constant smile marked him out as different from ‘ordinary’ people. In that respect the photo above is very representative of him.
Michael was a true intellectual, but he was in no way elitist about this and this was reflected wonderfully in the unique Remembering Service which featured original poetry (the stunning ‘revising the Blue Guide to Scotland’ by Anna Crowe), Happy the Man by his wonderful wife of 39 years, Elspeth, and a poem written in his honour by his nephew Jonathon Wills.
But the readings from The Origin of the Species (First Edition – where there is no mention of the creation – Michael was a staunch aetheist) and The Song of Solomon (ironically perhaps – a bible story that Michael sent Elspeth as a love letter in his courting days) really added to the eclecticism of the day
A truly moving and beautiful ceremony – we were indeed glad to have had a small place in Elspeth and Michael’s lives.