Born: May 29, 1954; Died: June 20, 2013.
Alan Lang, who has died aged 59, was one of the best-known and best-loved bar managers in Glasgow. Born in Kensington, London, he died peacefully at Vale of Leven Hospital after a lengthy battle with cancer.
His parents were Glasgow-born and bred and moved to London so his father could pursue a career as a tailor's cutter. They returned to Scotland when young Alan was four and he was brought up in Partick, attending school at Dowanhill Primary. When he was 10 he moved to Little Corseford, near Johnstone, and on leaving Johnstone High School briefly pursued a career in advertising which he described as "futile". Ironically much later, while working in the hospitality industry he was chosen to become the face of Whyte & Mackay's whisky on a poster campaign, stunning his mother who stumbled upon a billboard showing him nursing a glass of whisky.
He then joined the John Menzies Group as a management trainee, although those who knew him would be forgiven for thinking this was simply a way of indulging his passion for music while enjoying discounts on the many purchases he would make. Throughout his life, he was an avid consumer of live and recorded music and amassed a huge library of albums and CDs covering every genre.
After John Menzies, he worked in the hospitality trade for 30 years beginning in The Hansom Bistro at the Fountain Restaurant on Charing Cross in 1983. He worked at Baby Grand, managed Lautrec's and Cottier's among other venues in Glasgow, as well as returning to London to manage Chicago Rib Shack and Chicago Meatpackers.
For the last 15 years he was mine host at Vroni's Wine Bar in West Nile Street, Glasgow. Friday nights were music nights when he took great pleasure in satisfying the musical tastes of his clientele, while introducing them to an eclectic mix of new artists and sounds.
He was also a great aficionado of The Herald Diary. His regular customers were often greeted with the latest humorous stories from Tom Shields and his successor Ken Smith before they were allowed to order a drink. Add to that the best – and the worst – text jokes you could imagine, and you have one of the most sociable, likeable and entertaining men you could ever meet. And one who always had a smile for you.
It was just over a year ago that he was diagnosed with colon cancer. He had a sharp and wicked sense of humour, never more apparent than when dealing with his illness. After he had been diagnosed with cancer he mused that his future was in the lap of the gods and hoped that they would not all stand up at the same time. He felt it was important to retain his sense of humour, which he called his sense of tumour.
In the early stages, the doctor was listing the drugs he would be prescribing for him to assist with his treatment and he misheard the drug Domperidone as Dom Perignon and immediately felt the coming months might be more bearable than he first imagined.
Towards the end he was always suggesting irreverent music that could be played at his funeral and spent many hours ensuring that a suitable playlist was prepared for playing at the ceremony and during the refreshments later.
He felt that while most of us are not going to change the world, we can at least make an impact on those around us and that we have the power to make the decision as to whether that will be favourable or detrimental.
He is survived by wife Clair, whom he married at Moran's Oyster Cottage in Kilcolgan, Co Galway in November 2011 – the first people to be married there in its 300-year history. Typical of he and Clair, their wedding was a four-day event of quality food, drink and music in and around Galway City.