Bob Beveridge reveals to Michael Alexander why he’s written a book about unsolved murders and light-hearted tales – with ‘lots of rubbish’ thrown in!
When retired Scottish Crime Squad detective turned violin expert Bob Beveridge published his “extraordinary autobiography” last autumn, it was packed with factual stories about his varied encounters over the years.
These ranged from rubbing shoulders with killers to his encounters with the Johnny Cash family, featuring on the Antiques Roadshow and being asked to play guitar for the BBC Scotland documentary Brief Encounters.
Now, in a change of mood, the Falkland Violin Shop owner has written a light-hearted non-profit follow-up called ‘The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing Like the Truth’, which, as well as factual stories, he admits, also contains a “load of rubbish”.
“During lockdown, and an air of everyone feeling a bit fed up, I wrote this little book in the hope that some of the silly, light hearted stories, would add a little bit of cheer,” explains Bob.
“Although the stories are pure fiction, there are some which are true, and hopefully interesting.
“My autobiography book was a great success and attracted interest from TV companies, namely Channel 5, STV and BBC.
“However, the Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing Like the Truth book is totally different, because of mainly fiction stories.
“Many years ago, I had published cartoons in the (Fife) Herald newspaper, and some of these are also featured.”
Fictional and true stories
Fictional stories in the book include ‘The Bluebell polka Mystery’, paying tribute to Auchtermuchty’s late great accordion player Sir Jimmy Shand.
There’s a story about a Ladybank bank robbery in the 1970s which Bob describes as “true – with a few silly bits thrown in”.
However, Bob also recounts a number of true stories. They include the tale of a habitual small time crook in Methil known as “the professor” who never lived up to this illustrious title because he repeatedly bungled every crime and spent the bulk of his criminal career in and out of jail.
He recalls the time bank robbers spent weeks preparing to rob a bank in broad daylight – only to barge up to the bank they had been observing to find the bank had closed!
When they robbed the next nearest bank they could find, they drove into a cul-de-sac during their panic and had no choice but to turn around and drive past the bank they had robbed – by which time police and witnesses spotted their car and arrests were quickly made.
To add insult to injury, having only secured a few hundred pounds in the robbery, they later learned the weapon they used was a rare collectable antique that could have made them thousands at auction!
Bob recalls the true story of local teenagers getting lost in the abandoned limestone mines at Cults, near Cupar, in the 1990s.
The book also includes some interesting snippets, ranging from John Lennon and Yoko to HRH Duke of Edinburgh and the Carstairs murderer who made fiddles (he himself finished up being murdered in Carstairs of all places!)
The most serious true story in the book is Bob’s comment on the murder of Nairn banker Alastair Wilson in 2004.
Who is Bob Beveridge?
Raised in Kingskettle, Bob first became interested in violins as an 11-year-old when his family inherited a house containing old instruments including a cello.
His aunt played the piano and his dad was a member of Kettle Brass Band.
But Bob never learned to play the violin and his guitar playing abilities were cut short after he broke his finger in the Ben Nevis Race one year- an injury which he carries to this day.
Leaving school at 15, and working for a spell with J&G Innes at Edenside Works, Cupar, he joined Fife Police aged 19 in 1962.
While with Glenrothes CID, he investigated the ‘Unknown Bairn’ who was found dead on Tayport beach in May 1971 and dealt with many “harrowing and disturbing” murders after being seconded to the Scottish Crime Squad in Edinburgh.
It was the often grizzly nature of police work, however which, after 15 years persuaded him to cut short his secure police career.
The final straw came while working with Glasgow CID when he was called to the police mortuary to fingerprint three murder victims.
They had been stabbed, the second shot and the third had been kicked to death after a farewell party.
That grim scene, coming soon after Bob had to photograph the charred remains of three boys after a house fire, convinced him that working seven days a week sometimes nearly 24 hours a day was not for him or his family.
It was then, in 1977, that he decided to go back to his Fife roots where he set up his Violin Shop.
That’s not to say that in the years since, Bob’s often extraordinary encounters haven’t continued.
They range from the times he got to know legendary American singer-songwriter Johnny Cash and his daughter Rosanne Cash who were researching their Fife roots, to the day he found an unexploded Luftwaffe bomb during his daily run up the East Lomond and caused “panic” when he carried it down the hill to be made safe.
His shop front has been used for several scenes in the British-American TV drama Outlander, while he’s also received gifts from Russian visitors.
He was recently filmed playing guitar for the BBC Scotland documentary Brief Encounters. Filming took place on a return train journey between Ladybank and Edinburgh, then in his shop.
“There’s never been a dull moment!” he laughs.
*The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing Like the Truth is available from Falkland Post Office priced £5 with all proceeds going to charity.