Yes. There are subsidiary rights too; in America it's
seventy-ﬁve per cent if anything ever came to anything,
Susan says, You know what they say dont you?
turned and looked at her.
She says, Time tells if you are great but Royalties if
you are popular.
Tom and Susan both laughed. I nodded. They
talked so constant you found their blethers made less
sense than locals back in the resort but you found you
could get by with a Uh huh, a Mmm, giving the odd nod
or coming out with a chuckle and that.
We took the li晴 down to the cockta楬 bar where I
bought me and Susan Southern Comfort with lemonade.
Tom had this beer and the bottle was wrapped in tissue
paper. There were saucers with cockta楬 cherries on sticks
and saucers of chocolate buttons just sitting on the bar. I
was hungry so I started putting one cherry after another
into my mouth till there was just a pile of cocktail sticks
en I looked over
saw them watching me like
hawks. I sm楬ed and waved then kept chewing up the big
mouthful of so delicious cherries in my mouth. I carried
over their drinks then when
went back to get my own I
took one of the saucers of chocolate buttons with me.
Yous should see the big ﬁsh tank in the foyer and,
would you believe it, there's an actual nail salon here
too, I says. There was a bit silentness so I chewed up
one button ti汬 it was a melted ba汬 then
the mush on the tip of my tongue and smeared the
paste between two solid buttons making a wee choco
late button sandwich. Those two were watching me so I
did a big breath then says, See, I do the books myself
cause of the lifestyle that goes with it, y'know? The
writers sit there smoking and go round looking for the
inspiration. It's a lifestyle thats got a lot to offer me,
much better than working in a supermarket; waking up
on cold mornings knowing it's thirty-nine years to go
till pension. When youre writing you can just knock off,
take a look out the window, make a cup of coffee or
have a shower.
They'd both leaned forward and were nodding at
me. I offered round the cigarettes but they didnt smoke. I
used the goldish lighter on a Silk Cut.
e had another round of drinks then we walked out the
hotel and down a street. Tom was trying to hail a taxi.
A double-decker came along so I got on cause I'd never
been on one before. They had to climb on too but they
were both expla楮ing how they never took the bus and
they showed me these Taxi Card things that meant they
could just use taxis any time without even having money.
They had no change for the bus, just tenners, so I had to
pay for three tickets.
As we got off the double-decker outside the night
club two women who looked like cleaners got out the
doors in front of Tom and Susan. You saw both women
just nod heads to the driver but not up the aisle cause
they understood the driver wouldnt be looking there.
The women nodded up to the big rounded mirror the
driver would be watching the door in. Susan says,
Thank you driver, then stepped off carefu汬y. I nodded
in the mirror.
Tom got us 楮 and the music was so brilliantly loud
it put paid to any ceilidhing. The DJ was playing
Dreamﬁsh mixed in with other sounds. I was up dancing
the whole length and breadth of the danceﬂoor before
Susan got the ﬁrst round in.
Elbows bent towards chest and ﬁngers bunched, I
stepped to the side during drum breaks. I turned my an
kles then moved fast through lasers. A good instance of
that would have been during Earthworm by Spiral Tribe
Sound System. Stopped, I hunched over a Silk Cut using
the goldish lighter, swaying from side to side taking the
odd step forward till all was smoked. A boy had stepped
up to me and says something but I just turned my back. I
dropped the cigarette end and bent elbows towards chest
When I sat at the table I was covered in sweat. It
was just running down my arms from under the waist
coat. Susan had got a bottle of champagne up on the
table so I leaned across and gave her a big hug. Tom
draped these ﬁve luminous whistles round my neck: you
got one each time you bought a round of drinks but they
got ﬁve for a bottle of champagne. The music was so loud
we did was smile at each other, raise our plastic cups
and watch the dancers on the ﬂoor.
Tom passed something to Susan and she nodded to
We had to wait for a cubicle and when the door
opened two girls came out laughing.
locked the door
then we sniffed this little bit white powder Susan had. I
lifted up my leg to show her the glittering knee. I used
the goldish lighter to make it sparkle as Susan just stared
at it without talking.
When the champagne was drunk we moved on to
another club. There was no house music just all these
twelve inches and remixes. The guy behind the bar told
us the club owner could only get the black marble for the
bar from a stonemason who made graves and if you felt
under the rim where I was standing you could feel an
abandoned inscription. I ran my ﬁngers under and it was
right enough; we were leaned against
om got us a taxi to this late place that se牶ed food.
In the back I was feeling right queer. Hotness would
gather in my face but then it seemed to move out of my
face if I concentrated on it, leaving me dizzy. Like
when something went across me, my lips had a numb
feeling and I kept turning my suntanned face to see its
reﬂection in the little mirror. When I stared at my face
it wasnt like you were where your reﬂection showed
you. Then the ﬂush came back. I shook my left arm
and did a big breath.
We clambered out the taxi. There was a war memo
rial right next to us. I was reading out loud the words
engraved on it: Yser, Loos, Arras, Lille, Struma, Vimi,
Hoole, Mons, Hill 60.
Really good nicknames you give your people down
here, I says.
Beg pardon? goes Tom.
The nicknames of these dead soldiers were great, I
Those are not nicknames, those are the names of the
battles, went Tom.
The place was called Sunrise and we sat at a table
near the door. There was a strange rule that for every
pound you spent on drink you had to spend two pound
on food. About twenty uneaten, cold plates of chips were
sitting on our table, across the ﬂoor and round about us
on spare seats. We were 慬l mortal as newts. Tom was
using his credit cards to buy more drink and plates of
chips that I was handing to people as they came in the
Tom or Susan would ask a question looking at you,
you would shrug your shoulders with a bottle of beer in
the mouth and they would answer the question them-
selves then argue about it. They didnt te汬 stories they just
When Susan asked Tom to stop yapping so she
could hear me talking it was: 䅬l I know is over there in
that resort, with a couple of thousand pounds, happiness
was as easy as your ﬁrst breath in the morning, that Susan
heard me say.
n actual fact the dawn was begun on the skyline when
we left Sunrise and started the walking up a street. We
mustve been further from the airport cause the planes
were higher up. Tom's tie was skew-iff and his jacket was
over Susan's shoulders.
We came to a church. I put my ﬁngers up to my lips
to tell them: shush.
Inside was dark with candles up the far end where
an actual early-morning mass was going on.
Tom and Susan suddenly started snogging, Tom's
jacket slid off Susan's shoulders and lay on the flagstones.
Her bum was pushed up against the thing with the holy
water in. 䅮 old woman came in and scowled ahnightily
at the two of them as she squeezed round to dap her
ﬁngers wet and cross herself. When she says words to the
two snoggers it was in foreign language.
I wet my ﬁngers and crossed myself then looked
down the aisle to watch the old woman and see what
knee you genuﬂect on. A handsome black priest was
about to give the Eucharist. Candlelight reﬂected on his
Tom and Susan followed me up the aisle.
ﬂected then slid along a bench. They copy-catted and sat
in beside me. When folk all started going up I rose ﬁrst
with Susan behind me.
took her hand.
Two young foreign girls with haversacks on were in
front of us. I watched their stiff-looking little tongues take
kneeled and when the priest touched my head with
long thin ﬁngers
swayed as if
was going to fa楮t. I
squeezed my eyes tight for a split second then
wafer with its taste in my mouth. Tom and Susan copied,
then followed me back where
was kneeling on the row
of cushions behind the benches.
screwed my eyes shut
tight and had a little prayer.
Outside it was daylightish.
Oh, that was so really, really
Susan kept re
peating. Her arm was linked with Tom's. We crossed the
just drifted into an underground station.
jerked aside the curtain and all three of us squeezed into
a photobooth laughing. Tom began passing all these
pound coins to me so I hunkered down in the short skirt
tr祩ng to get them 楮 the slot. Flashes started going oﬀ so
in hysterics, twist楮g and crouching to get in
the shot with our cheeks all squeezed together. We were
doing this for a good while then Tom's coins fell on the
ﬂoor. I scraped them together with my trainer then
the pound coms in the slot. More ﬂashes
started going off.
Susan reached round to touch my glittering knee
and I held my head back as she stroked it so my hair
hung in her face while she sat on Tom's knee on the stool.
Another hand came round and moved up the inside of
the leg. I could taste the wafer in my mouth. A flash
crackled and both my palms shot up and pressed against
the plastic light cover on the roof. My heart was going
twenty to the dozen and Susan says in a hushed way, Oh
my god, this is so heavy.
I was starting to speak about the raves I'd been go
ing to at Spook Factory when I saw Susan's face was all
pale. It was just then the jet of boak came out her mouth
and nose across Tom's shoes. Another ﬂash bloomed. I
tried to lift Susan up but only so's she was in a position
where the camera would take her 慬l sicking up. The next
splut of sick was a huge amount and hit the glass plate
where the camera was.
Tom was soothing her and saying stuff, but wetness
was pouring down Susan's front onto the thighs of his
trousers. I stepped outside the booth: a whole series of
photos were piled up on the concrete. I picked them up,
took out the rampant ones then chucked the others back
down. I'd an early train to get and my bag was sti汬 at that
he train climbed back west then east through the eve
ning and away from The Central Belt. As far as the
crossing loop it was a Central Belt train driver. The train
back to the port would cross at the loop with the 17.40
on its way do睮, then a port driver would take the train
back along above the lochs, through to the junction and
up the glens and across to the far end of the pass, over
the back hi汬s and round into the port.
was in behind the engine jerked to a
halt. Everything was very quiet except for a little crea歩ng
under the carriage and a tiny burn gurgle-gurgling by the
You heard a lonely horn blow and a diesel growling.
For a sp汩t second Co楬 was beside; sitting up in the en
gine cab when the train from the port slowed and
stopped next me.
I picked up my bag then crossed to the coach door
and pulled the window down. It was starting to drizzle.
Coil was coming up the platform with Wooﬁt his dog
running in front then circling.
Morvern. Morvern youre the talk of the town; where
on earth have you disappeared to. Are you coming up
opened the door and got down.
Have you phoned; have you heard about Red
What, him retiring?
Oh Morvern have you no been in touch at all, come
here, come here, the big white chiefs have got him. Sus
pended his lump sum and pension on a discipline.
I looked at Co汩. A feeling was going across me. We
were stood by the engine near the cab door. Co汩 tugged
the silver-coloured handle down and jerked the door in.
Wooﬁt hopped up. Coli put a hand on each rail and
eased himself up into the engine.
stepped on quickly
and snapped the door behind me. Coli swung his big
leather bag onto the diesely ﬂoor beside the driver's seat.
I sat on the other swivel chair.
Coli says, The devils sent him out a letter on yon
Friday saying that he'd taken two lager shandies that last
afternoon he was backshift 'fore going out on his ﬁnal
Two lager shandies, I goes.
Worse than pathetic, eh, went Coli spreading out
the centre pages of his newspaper on the ﬂoor that
Wooﬁt curled up on.
Surely management know that worse than that goes
on at Hogmanay, I says.
know pet, I've been carried to the engine myself
but they love to get an old commy and union activist. Set
Red Hanna up nice they did. It's total rubbish, the man
agement turn a blind eye when it suits them, goes Coli
taking out the Tupperware box and unwrapping the can
of dogfood then scraping some out onto a saucer that
Wooﬁt gobbled down. Then Coli did a roily with his sil-
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