R o n a l d  M c G i l l,

author of 

Three Royal Terrace 


The Expatriate Town Clerk.

Author, this webpage. Urbanist; click the 'Learn More' button.

Both these books are autobiographical.

Two others appear under the 'urbanist' heading: Institutional Development (for city management) and Performance Budgeting (for least-developed countries). Click on the 'Learn More' button.


Three Royal Terrace

July 25, 2019

A severely autistic child, possessing no language of his own, learns his and his family's history from his father and repeats it to the reader.

'My name is Roddy. I am severely autistic or more technically, "low-functioning". I have no spontaneous language. My dad saw the film The Accountant and was inspired to write this book through my eyes. That film's central character, as a young boy, displayed all the uncontrollable characteristics I did. The difference is that he went on to a "high-functioning" state. I remained otherwise. I wanted to learn more about my dad. I wanted to understand about myself. I wanted to feel the struggles of the family as I moved from childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. I wanted to convey my own sorrow at the anguish I often inflicted upon my siblings and especially Mum.' "Thank you Dad for giving me a voice!"

Three Royal Terrace.jpg
Desk with Book

A Bit About Me

I was born in Berlin, British Army of the Rhine (BAOR), just after World War II, of Scottish and German parents. I moved to Edinburgh when I was six, when my parents divorced, being brought up by my father. I ran away when I was 17, joining the British Army. After Aden, I left “to get an education”. I worked in town planning in UK before breaking into international development, mainly in Africa but also Asia and the Middle East, with the UN in New York City. I have published two technical books and 22 related journal papers. I am based in East Africa and visit Edinburgh and New York as often as I can, for my family.

Robert Burns recognised: in the original Scottish, “O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!" Or, in modern English, “Oh would some Power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us.”

Ronald McGill.jpg

‘...for there is nothing so good and lovely as when man and wife in their home dwell together in unity of mind and disposition.’


The Odyssey of Homer

Translated by

T.E. Lawrence.

Oxford University Press, 1991, p.89.

In The Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson, there was a picture of British political and imperial leaders on camels in front of Egyptian pyramids, including Lawrence. Churchill inserted a caption about Lawrence: ‘who is not in complete harmony with the normal’. In my view, such people often have the greatest insights into the human condition!


Meanwhile, this is Dad's second and last book.

The Expatriate Town Clerk

.On the strength of Dad's MBA, because it included ‘accounting and finance’ and being a town planner, he was offered the job of town clerk of Lilongwe city council; the city being the rapidly growing, aspiring Garden City capital of Malawi. He had never been to Africa. The result was a series of revelations. First, concerned the behavior and attitude of expatriates; the British in particular. Secondly, was how Malawians responded to an expatriate chief executive. Thirdly, was how donors behaved towards their consultants and advisers. Finally, was the impact of Africa generally on the social and psychological being of Mum and Dad.

As to Malawi: it was often described by expatriates as “Africa for beginners” because at least then, things normally worked. The fact that international phone calls were strictly monitored (something discovered later – with a certain result), added to the experience. The Malawians described their country as the “warm heart of Africa”. It was!