My strongest personal memory of the great Iain Banks
At one event -- a Novacon in Walsall -- he did one of his usual-style, highly-amusing, irreverent, silly talks, containing much profanity, drug references, jokes high and low and so on -- not what one might expect from (IMHO, at least) an actual genuine genius and creative artist of the highest order.
Afterwards, at the bar, someone asked me how it was. "Oh, brilliant," I said, "you know, Banksie doing his usual genial-fuckwit thing," or something like that. I was trying to get across how this great man managed to convey his common touch, his wonderful combination of great mind and ordinary bloke.
I felt the uncomfortable sensation of being stared at. Of receiving a Very Hard Stare.
I turned around. I was being stared at. By Iain Banks, who was in the queue at the bar behind me. A very hard, unhappy, pissed-off looking stare.
I felt about 2mm tall, lost the power of speech, and scurried away. I still feel deep shame to this day.
I always will, now.
I met him again, at another iteration of the same event, 2½y ago. He seemed to have no clue who I was and AFAICT no recollection of the incident. I was exaggeratedly polite. Too much so, I fear. I probably came over as another fawning crawler, this time. :¬(
One of life's more unusual regrets: to unintentionally call one of the human beings who you most respect in the world something offensive in their hearing. Something you didn't mean as offensive in any way at all.
Well, fuck. Fuck me and my stupid big mouth, and fuck cancer.