Friday, 30 August 2013


About ten past four, Parrot, with his wee chipped teeth, cycles by me on a "new-to-him" bike. He stands on the pedals in front of his big cousin who sits on the saddle and holds onto Parrot's t-shirt.
He circles round me.
"Another new bike, Parrot?" says I.
"Aye, m'uncle goat me it," says he.
"He did, he did," says the cousin, earnestly covering for him.
"M-hm," says I with a knowing look, "m-hm."
And Parrot lets out a big laugh and pushes down on the pedals and cycles off, faster and faster, into the sunset.

Monday, 26 August 2013


The summer wears on and wears out. Thought it had gone completely last week, but the temperature's kindly risen over the past couple of days and we feel glad of it. Still, there's a feeling of distrust in the evening air, a slight animosity, an underlying chill, as though all is not right with the world.
Me and the Govan Baby go out walking on our usual circuit. Up Shaw Street, onto Langlands Road, along the Golly, cross over and down Water Row to the river bank. As far as we can walk and back again, taking a turn around the Govan Old graveyard and out onto Govan Road again.
Just past the chapel, a young man steams towards us. He's walking very briskly, chest out and shoulders back, almost breaking into a run now and again. He's tall and twenty, black hair and handsome. As he gets close, I see his face is fearful, eyes wide open and his mouth is set in a firm frown. He casts a glance backwards and shoots on, crossing over the road.
Half a mo later, another figure follows in his footsteps. This time a man, tall and dark, approaching forty. He strides along with an air of threatening intent, but with the relaxation of one very confident in his own power.
I walk on a bit, and turn around to see if they are an incident about to happen.
And they are.
The young man enters a newsagents, which used to be an illustrious factor's office, or was it the bank? Anyway, now it sells crisps and cans and tonight it provides a temporary refuge for a hunted man.
Outside, the pursuer is trying to get into the shop, pushing against the glass door with all his might but the pursued is standing firmly against the door, holding back this boiling rage.
They look evenly matched, height, weight, build, but the man inside the shop has youth on his side and maybe the adrenalin that comes with fear.
Out on the street, the pursuer stands on the pavement and hurls curses and oaths at the lad, who has turned himself sideways and is wedged between a shelf and the door. He keeps his head down and turned away.
Now the kicking begins. The man on the street lifts his foot and bangs against the glass door, booting it again and again to no avail.
"Ah'm waitin',"  he roars and starts pacing like a caged lion.
Crowds gather at the corners to watch events unfold. I turn the Govan Baby's pram away from the violence.
As the light dims and a gentle breeze sweeps a chill around us, the young man sits still with his back against the door and the older man settles against the bonnet of a car.
Twenty minutes later, a police van rolls along the road and the pursuer, now about to be the pursued, stands up and walks smartly down the road and left down McKechnie Street.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Decals Deleted

What is that smell in the air? It's been an undernote all week long, gradually rising each day to prominence. Peggy's the one to identify it. It's fear she says. It's here at this time every year. The approach of a new school term.

Parrot and his wee brer are taking shelter in the close as I come down the stairs.
"What yous up to boys?"
He casts an upward glance at me and down again at a bike he's wheeled in.
"Ye goat any spanners, Ah'm just fixin ma bike," he says.
"Nope, and you need to do it outside," says I.
"It's rainin. We'll just be a wee minute."
"Aye," says the wee brer, looking at me pleadingly.
"It is not raining. Take the bike outside," I say and then, stopping to look at what they're doing, I accuse, "That's not your bike."
"Aye it is," he snaps back, "M' ma goat it fur's. You can ask 'er."
"It's far too big for you, and how comes yer taking the stickers off as well?" I say, watching his nail bitten fingers scraping and peeling off the decals and throwing them on the ground.
"Uch, Ah'm just fed up wi them. Had them too lang."
And they wheel the bike out into the cool wind and Parrot jumps up and cycles down the street, standing on the pedals cos the seat's too high, on his last day of freedom.