The Glasgow Curse – William Lobban

There’s a notorious criminal following us!

On Twitter, that is, and it’s former criminal, if you please. William Lobban, a gangster so vicious no prison in Scotland would take him, finished paying his debt to society in an English penitentiary in 1988.

Now he’s a bestselling author. His gritty and brutally honest autobiography, The Glasgow Curse, begins with his birth in Exeter Prison to a violent, schizophrenic mother. Cared for by his grandparents who taught him to shoplift, con, and hate the police, then later by his mother, Lobban’s childhood reads like a cross between Oliver Twist and the film The Shining, with his mom playing Jack Nicholson’s role. She once beat him with a kitchen pot, denting it so badly it couldn’t be used again.

At 15 he led a break-in to a Glasgow pub, and years of armed robberies, drug-dealing, and gang fights followed. He served terms in several prisons, where he was involved in riots and led escapes.

The book is well-written, but the story reveals a childhood of habitual truancy, so you have to wonder, when did he learn to write? In an interview with Ruth Jacobs, Lobban says:

It wasn’t until later in life, much later, when I was serving a 14-year prison sentence that I decided to educate myself … I took on an NVQ Business Studies course … I also studied a dictionary when I found myself locked up in solitary confinement for 18 mind-bending months, 23 hours of every day.

Now he lives in Beauly, near Inverness, a city in the Scottish Highlands. He keeps a couple of pit-bull terriers, and spends his days working on a sequel to his book.

“I wrote the book because I wanted to get my story out there, to clear my name and tell the truth,” Lobban says. “I’ve been dragged through the mud in so many other books and tabloid newspaper stories.”

One of those stories accuses him of murder, a charge Lobban denies. “The only person who was ever injured was a bar manager [in Glasgow]. Of course I feel bad about that…. It’s not until you get older that you start looking at things in a different light.”

The Glasgow Curse, published in October, 2013 by Birlinn, has reached the top slot in Amazon’s True Crime category. Reviews have been favorable. Russel Leadbetter, of the Herald Scotland said, “The 279-page book doesn’t pull many punches, whether it’s describing assaults in prison, or the planning that goes into an armed robbery, or what it is like to spend 23 hours a day in prison.”

Lobban is content with his new life. But of course he has enemies. When one of them threatened him online, Lobban called the police. In a former life, he would have handled it a different way. “But I’m now living this great life, I’ve turned the corner, and I’ve got to do things accordingly, the proper way,” he says. We wish him the best of luck.