To be interviewed on radio by John Gray was always a pleasure, for the simple reason that it was a conversation, not an interrogation. He knew about music, too, which was not something upon which a music critic could rely in Scotland.

So it was through music, some 30 years ago, that John, assistant head of BBC radio in Scotland, and I became firm friends. His other enthusiasms - drama, poetry, travel, the art of translation, good food and wine and much else - likewise fitted comfortably into the context of the long lunches we shared. They ended more often than not with a game or two of chess, played in restaurants that, we knew, would not attempt to hasten our departure.

When, after his second major heart operation, in 1992, he regained consciousness, he puzzled his nurses by speaking about food in French. He had, as he later explained, thought himself to be lunching in Paris.

Even after his retirement - though John, far too busy to retire, was lecturing in London, receiving an honorary doctorate in Edinburgh, and planning his next visit to Australia just before his death at the age of 88 - music remained one of the dynamos that drove him.

As a board member and, for a time, chairman of Scottish Ballet, he tried but failed to persuade me to take a greater interest in dance.

His tactics (in the knowledge that something by Stravinsky, say, might form a suitable bait) were to recommend such and such a conductor to my attention.

Alas, it never worked any better than his belief that Scotland's ballet and opera companies should share their orchestral resources.

Yet we never fought about it, and a change of subject - to string quartets, one of his major devotions - soothed even the most faintly ruffled feathers.

As the son of the poet Sir Alexander Gray, John was immensely impressed that I was one of the few people still living who had heard his father's Scottish translation of Schumann's Dichterliebe song cycle (voiced by its Edinburgh champion, the Drummond Place tenor John Tainsh) and who had actually liked the sound of it.

Perhaps in John's, or in his father's, memory, it would be something for Jonathan Mills, the Edinburgh Festival's new director, to feature in a recital by a singer of today.

Not surprisingly, his memorial service, though concert may prove a more appropriate word, on February 3 will include plenty of music as well as poetry in the secular surroundings of Theatre Workshop, near his Edinburgh home in Stockbridge.

Not, as his funeral on January 9 confirmed, that he was irreligious. The inclusion of Psalm 121 - sung in its proper psalmic version, which seemed to disconcert the mourners - spoke for itself, though the moment John himself would specially have savoured happened earlier, when his coffin was carried in. Just as its bearers inserted it beneath the drapery, the first movement of Bach's Fourth Brandenburg Concerto ended and the sweet, haunting strains of the slow movement began.

It was, of course, pure chance. But its perfect timing suggested that John, that most impeccable of broadcasters, was attentively at work in some heavenly control room.