A short story, guest blog by Elizabeth Angus
So there we ur at the gemme, Denny an me, and it’s bloody great. Ma furst Old Firm game – it took me ages tae get ma maw tae let me go. But ahm no a daft wee boy, ahm nearly fourteen, an ah went tae hunners a games last season. An she likes Denny; she thinks he’s a ‘nice sensible lad’. Denny nearly pished himsel when ah telt him she said that. But ma maw’s right, Denny’ll make sure we don’t get oursels intae bother.
It’s some gemme, this. Ahm lovin it. Bobby Lennox opened the scoring fur Celtic just afore half time, and the place went bananas. There’s been loadsa action since, and we’ve been all over them. It’s only a matter of time before we score again. Denny an me ur standin in the bit of The Jungle right next tae the Rangers End. The Jungle’s whit everyone calls the North Enclosure. Ah telt ma maw it’s because the railings ur painted green, like creepers, but that’s no why at all. The singin’s mental. We’re chantin at the Rangers supporters, and they’re chantin back at us. Ah catch wan wee Hun starin at me an ah shoot him the vicky. Sometimes folk throw things. It’s all dead loud, and kinda – ah dunno – vitriolic. That’s a crackin word, that. Ah read it somewhere and had tae look it up. Wish ah hud the nerve tae use it.
Ahm still staring intae space, jus kinda thinkin about how good that vitriolic word is, and lettin it roll about on ma tongue, when ah notice the singin’s stopped. There’s just a big noise instead. Ah lean right intae Denny so’s ah kin see past the big fat guy in front of me, an the Huns have got the ba’. Tommy Burns is lyin on the deck, an The Jungle’s growling, an Derek Johnstone’s lumberin up the pitch straight at Peter Latchford. Ah canny watch, so ah stare at the plook on the back o Fat Guy’s neck, an then the Rangers End starts howlin an Denny’s clutching his heid an ah cannae believe it. The Huns have scored.
An that’s how it finishes. Wan each.
The walk up to the Gallowgate’s mental. It always is a bit, after the gemme, but this seems super-mental. It’s like the whole crowd’s walkin up the middle of the road. Most drivers don’t come near Parkheid at coming-out time, but there’s one or two stuck like wee islands in among all the people. They have to go dead slow. Some poor sod’s come down here in a John Player Special Capri. It’s a black one, gold pinstripes, really neat lookin motor. Someone bumps intae Denny as we go past, an Denny bumps intae me, an ah bump intae the Capri’s wing mirror. Aw, shite. Ah kin see the driver’s gettin aw uptight, but the crowd’s that thick he’ll no be able tae get oot his motor. He’s probably no got the bottle, anyway.
There’s a 61 bus waitin. Ah love gettin on the bus efter the gemme. There’s that many folk pilin intae it at wance that ye kin take yer feet aff the grun an jus get carried on. Ah telt ma maw, an she didny think it wis funny, jus kept goin on about how it sounded dead dangerous an she wisny sure ah wis old enough tae be goin wi just ma mates. So ah didny bother tellin her that the windaes o the bus get panned in oan a regular basis, cuz that didny seem circumspect.
By the time we get up town there’s only been wan brick heaved through a windae, and it’s providin some much-needed ventilation. There’s a bit o a rumble goin on just afore wur stoap. A crowd o Rangers fans ur gettin ladled intae some o oors. It’s lookin a bit messy an Denny sez we’d be better stayin’ oan the bus the noo. Ahm about tae protest that ah promised ma mammy ah widny be late. She keeps goin on about how ahm that young tae be oot masel. Ah need tae change buses an get hame. An then ah see the Hun gettin glessed, an ah hink Denny might huv a point. Man, that’s no pretty. Ah mean, ah know he’s a Hun but naebody deserves that. He’s aw hunched over, an there’s all blood pishin between his fingers where he’s haudin his face. His mates urny runnin away either, they’re lookin nasty an wan o them’s reachin intae his inside poaket. Ah look away before anyone catches me starin, ah don’t want tae draw attention tae masel. Ahm proper scared now, an ah just want tae be aff this bus an on mah way hame.
It’s another three stops before we get aff, an ahm no sure where we ur. Denny reckons he knows, but, so we start walking. We traipse round a corner an smack bang intae a bunch of Huns. We’re still wearing our Celtic scarves, an ah’ve got a wee wan tied roun mah wrist an aw. This display of green and white hoopery seems to inflame the Huns, who call us Fenian bastards, an we leg it.
Denny an me ur baith pretty speedy, so we outrun them nae bother, but we kinda lose our direction and end up at the Clyde. Our bus is away up at George Square. It takes forever to get there, what with lookin behind us all the time in case of trouble. And keekin round corners like thae private eyes do on the telly. Ah’ve taken aff mah scarves an stuffed them inside mah jaiket, but Denny says he’s a proper Tim an his isny coming aff his neck till he’s deid.
When the Number 2 draps us at the chippy it’s late. Man, ah mean late. Mah maw’s gonny kill me. Worse, she’s gonny no let me go tae the fitba again. Denny says ahm jus bein paranoid, and wonders if ahm comin roon tae Wee Kev’s with him – Wee Kev’s got the new AC/DC album and Denny’s goin tae tape it. Let There Be Rock. Denny’s awready heard some of it, and he swears Bon Scott’s wrote this song, ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’, about our big fat maths teacher, Roseanna McCracken.
Ah really want tae hear the song about Big McCracken, but ah tell him ah canny. Mah maw’ll be goin spare. She gets super-worried about me now there’s just the two of us. Besides, ahm supposed tae be takin a fish supper hame fur tea. So she’s gonny be worried an starvin, an that’s no a good combination.
Ah head up the road wi mah cargo. The bottom o the packet’s warm, an the newsprint’s comin aff on mah hands cos mah palms ur a bit sweaty. Probably cos ahm scared about gettin intae trouble. The chips smell magic. Ah sniff dead deep so’s the vinegar smell catches at the back of ma throat. Ah poke aboot wi the paper until ah kin ease wan o the chips out. It’s too hot and it burns mah tongue a bit, but ah don’t care. There’s no much of mah share left when ah reach the front door.
Ah go intae the hoose an say hello kinda quietly, waitin for a bollockin. Mammy, ahm hame… an ah’ve goat yer tea. Ah huv a quick check – aye, ah dae huv her tea, ah’ve no tanned it aw. There’s nae reply, but the telly’s on. Ah kin hear Nicholas Parsons on Sale of the Century so it must be efter eight o’clock. Ahm deid. Maw! A bit louder. It’s me…
The living room door’s open a wee bit. Ah go in, tryin tae look casual, feart o whit she’ll say tae me. And at furst ah hink she’s no there, ah canny see her. And then a contestant gets a question right, an ah kin see ma maw’s legs oan the flair, an the audience start clappin like mad, an ah just staun there an ah kin feel aw mah insides turn intae a big cauld lump that draps right tae the bottom o mah stomach. Ah canny move.
Maw? Mah feet step forward by themselves. Ah canny look. Maw? Aw, shite – maw! Whit the fuck dae ah dae? Her eyes ur shut, an ah canny tell if she’s breathin. Some bit o me knows to dial 999, so ah grab the receiver an then find ah huvny goat a spare haun cos ahm still huggin the fish suppers. I put the parcel down carefully oan the sideboard, an then worry that it might leave a mark. Mah fingers seem too fat tae dial the numbers, an each 9 takes a lifetime. Some wumman asks me which service ah require, an ah tell her it’s ma maw, she’s just lyin oan the flair, an she puts me through tae the ambulance gadgies. Another wumman speaks tae me, ah manage tae remember where we live an she asks me loads of questions. Ah don’t know if ahm gettin any right. Ah try tae tell her it’s mah fault fur bein late hame, an she tells me it isnae, but whit the fuck does she know?
An then the wumman says the ambulance is oan its way, an she stays oan the line, jus talkin tae me, but ahm no listening tae her. Ahm talkin tae mah mammy, an ahm promisin her that ah’ll never go tae the fitba ever again.
~ 0 ~
This wee story was first published in 2013, in Octavius magazine. It was inspired by my husband’s reminisces of going to the fitba as a kid in the 1970s. Much of the detail is true apart from the ending: I can reassure everybody that nothing like that ever happened to his mammy.
I have very recently entered World of Blog, but if you want to read any more of my scribblings please drop in and say hello: elizabethangus.wordpress.com. It’s an eclectic mix – something for everyone!
Much gratitude to the Wee Dug for letting me share his airspace and shamelessly plug myself…