On 3 October 2018, Kenneth Roy announced in the Scottish Review that he was dying of cancer. ‘I am on the last bus now, front row nearest the driver, and heading for the terminus. And hoping all the traffic lights are at red.’ The following day Kenneth did what came naturally to him – he started writing from his hospital bed and soon found that he was keeping this diary. It charts not just the relentless course of his illness, but his reflections on life and death, the comings and goings of the intimate circle of visitors around him, and his deep and warm appreciation of the NHS team looking after him.
Sadly, all the lights were at green and Kenneth died just over a month later, leaving behind this, his final book. It is profoundly moving, at times funny, and always insightful and astonishingly honest.
Kenneth Roy wrote this memoir when he knew he had only weeks to live. Facing up to his own mortality, sustained by the kindness of his doctors and nurses, he evokes and examines what life has meant to him – not in philosophical generalities and religious abstractions, but in its compelling and diverting particulars. Roy’s distinctive, wry voice is always present. His book is a marvellous achievement, often funny, always direct and honest: bleak and somehow not bleak. You will read few better accounts of saying goodbye.
– Ian Jack
A dying man's love-letter to the nurses and doctors of the NHS, who tended and inspired him to the end. Moving and trenchant.
– Sally Magnusson
The book he leaves behind is remarkable, not just because it was written by a dying man; not just because it is finely crafted, full of wit and detailed recollection; but because it is a model of how to cope with impending death. It will stand as a testament to a life well led, and a death that is addressed honestly, unsparingly and with the utmost courage.
– Magnus Linklater
About the author:
Kenneth Roy was born in Falkirk in 1945. A former news and current affairs anchorman with the BBC, he became a critic and columnist in the print media, notably Scotland on Sunday and the Observer. He founded the Scottish Review in 1995 and is the author of several books, including Travels in a Small Country
, The Invisible Spirit: A Life of Post-War Scotland 1945–1975
, and The Broken Journey: A Life of Scotland 1976–1999
. He died on 5 November 2018.
About the publisher:
ICS Books is the book publishing arm of the Institute of Contemporary Scotland, publishers of the Scottish Review. All proceeds from sales of the book will go directly to the charity.
Cover price: £14.99