R was a Greek scholar and poet who was also a pyromaniac who'd set fires that endangered those around him. My dad met him through another poet and began to visit him where he was incarcerated, in the notorious Carstairs State Prison. Later, he was deemed less dangerous and was transferred to "the Royal Ed" - which was sited during that time at Craiglockhart, where Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon met. We had boxes of his books at home for safe keeping - hundreds of volumes of Penguin Modern Classics, dusty and frayed, which I spent hours going through.
In the late 1970s R was allowed weekend release and used to come to our house and sit in the same chair, by the fireplace; when it was my job to light the fire, braving the night with my torch to bring the wicker basket full of logs from the woodshed out the back and crumpling newspaper to lay it, I felt incredibly self-conscious as he watched me in silence: he the expert and me the amateur.
He was, my dad told me, "institutionalised": this meant that he was silent or mumbling, a brooding presence in the corner; jowly, like Ted Hughes, wearing an ancient frayed Argyle sweater, fumbling with his roll-ups and his pipe. I was terrified of him.
in the mid-1980s, on a long weekend visit to my Dad's house in East Linton, he was left alone in the house for a few hours. When my dad returned he discovered that R had set small inept fires everywhere and stuck his head in the oven. Domestic gas was detoxified in 1973, and it's not been possible to kill yourself with gas poisoning alone since then; if you seal the doors and wait long enough, it might work, but the ancient chaotic cottage was quite unsuitably draughty so he was lying there for a few hours.
This bathetic episode was the end of his freedom; he never got day release again and he died in hospital a couple of years later.
He wrote poetry about the mountains and Scottish iconography and published a book of poetry in 1978. I can hardly reconcile the monosyllabic, haunted figure of my childhood with someone of such imagination, now apparently regarded as "cruelly underrated"; but these poems were written while he was in hospital.
I kept some of his books - long since "mine"; and still have some of them with me.