EDINBURGH STREETS ARE AWASH WITH CRIME-WRITERS

Only a fool would attempt to cross the city on a howling, blustery, bastard, rainy night unprepared. I clutched my bag of goodies in tight and entered  the dark mouth of Fleshmarket Close. Ready for anything.

‘Lookin fur business.?’ a hoor enquired, she was leaning on the wall outside the Halfway Hoose. I ignored her.

HEY BIG MAN ARE YE WANTIN YER HOLE

The song of the Siren. I checked her out – long blond hair, short, sporting; a scarlet plastic mac, high heels and shades…aye, shades, at that time of night.

‘Let’s see what ye’ve got?’ I demanded and the request did not need to be repeated. She whipped the mac open like a vamp spreading her wings and there she was, in all her glory, black push up bra showing off the best of a bad job of tits, suspender belt round a swelly belly, black stockings displaying the chubbiest thighs in Scotland…THIS WAS NO HOOR THIS WAS LOUISE WELSH IN A WIG. I hurried on my way, rumour had it once you were ensconced between those thighs of thunder there was no escape for any mortal man.

It was a close thing but my acute antennae had not forsaken me I was on high alert and just as well –  my exit from the close was blocked by a lone mysterious figure. But when he opened his mouth, the mystery was no more; a mealy- mouthed mumble flagged up his identity like a beacon. The Welshes were out in force

‘I am Murder,’ he mumbled, fingering a blood-stained hammer.

‘Well yer books certainly are, but let’s no be too hasty Irvine I have something for ye,’ I told him rummaging in my goody bag and pulling out a 2 kilo plastic bag of bisto. His eyes lit up like stars. I tossed the bag up a recess, he dropped his hammer and leapt on the goods like a scavenging degenerate. Once a brown head, always a brown head.

So a perilous part of my journey had been successfully negotiated and I emerged unscathed from the bottom of the close that had claimed oh so many others.

The entrance to the Scotsman steps was under guard –two dodgy characters lurked in the shadows. At first I was at a loss to identify them then I spotted the bandwagon disappearing along Market Street – Alan Guthrie and Tony Black. Then two black panthers approached, these crimester’s egos had expanded to such a degree they could no longer be contained within the confines of a human mind and had manifested as daemons. The black cats curled their lips back to show a menacing display of…gums – they were toothless. I pulled a pint of milk and a saucer from my bag and poured out a generous slosh, this they lapped up with purring contentment. I confronted the guards but they folded like cardboard with the slightest of slaps. They were nothing without their egos.

There was something odd about the steps they seemed to have some other-worldly quality that had previously been hidden from me. Then I remembered some artist had made them a work of art; each step had been replaced by a differing type of marble. Too good an opportunity to miss, it’s not every day you can piss so easily on an installation with impunity. But not quite, I felt a weak grasp on my collar, no need to hurry, I took my time with my piss, turned round and there’s some guy.

‘Whatdayuthinkyerdoinpal?’

‘Havin a piss,’ I said, ‘what’s it to you?’

‘Don’t you know who I am? I’m Quintin Jardine, creater of the Bob Skinner polis stories.’

‘Never heard o ye,’ I told him and walked up the rest of the stairs unhindered. Pieceapiss.

Not so when I reached the North Bridge because there like a sentinel stood none other than …IAN RANKIN. I swore under my breath I’d hoped he would have been at home writing about an assassin who enters an unknown city to unleash mayhem but here he was with a fuck off heavy looking holdall. I just knew it contained every murder weapon ever thought of. I dug into my own bag and throw him a copy of James Joyces’ Ulysses. He picked it up, scoffed and tossed it off the bridge.

‘Read it’!

I knew it, I knew I should have packed Finnigan’s Wake. Fuck it, I’d come too far, braved too many dangers, I couldn’t turn back now, he was only one man after all.

‘Right Rankin square go!’ I bellowed and marched onto the bridge to face him, he bent down as if to select a weapon from his holdall but changed his mind.

‘Ay dinnae need nae tools tae sort the likes ay you oot, ken.’ he said like a true Fifer. And he was right, when I got into a grapple with him I knew I was doomed. He was a strong man and next thing he had me hanging over the bridge.

Fuck, I thought, he’s going to throw me off, I’m going through all the glass panels below, onto the power lines of Waverly station and then what’s left of me will be cut up by an on-coming train, my corpse will be a sight that’ll make even Rebus puke, that’s what I get for messing with a crime writing heavyweight. Then a whip thin phantom arm locked itself round Rankin’s throat and forced him back, his iron grip relaxed and I struggled free. It was the ghost of Robert Louis Stevenson come to my rescue, it gestured me to run, to get away and indeed I was good to go but I couldn’t, not until I uttered my grievances

IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT ROBERT LOUIS IT WAS THAT DAMN JEKYLL AND HYDE THAT STARTED ALL THIS

The ghost looked perplexed, it obviously found speech difficult in this material world but I could just make out the single word he was at pains to whisper…London.

Could this be true, is Jekyll and Hyde set in the fog shrouded streets of old London town? I’ll need to read it one of these days.

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WILL SELF’S FACE

‘It’s yer face!…It’s yer face!…screams some mad lassie at the guy she’s just been chucked out the boozer with. This is the middle of the afternoon and a commotion of this magnitude, even in Leith’s notorious scumpubland, tends to grab your full attention. In order to discern the offending features this  face demands closer scrutiny so I stop, and it’s non other than Will Self himself

I didn’t know Will was in town and what the fuck’s he doing with a Leith hoor, steaming drunk, getting ejected from the worst dive on the street. What was his crime? Could it really be his face that had caused such an almighty row?

‘Will’,’ I shout over, ‘what’s going on man? don’t worry I’m here, you’ve obviously been mistreated, to hell with these bastards! they are scumsucking mutants and I promise they will rue the day they crossed us.’

He looks befuddled, his ratty eyes seem fixed in his head, staring down his long conk which he swivels round until he detects my location like the business end of a tank. He has trouble focussing, it is an odd moment of calm, even the fury of the hoor subsides, her tiny mind incapable of taking in the far from complex new turn of events. But Will, a man with a brain the size of a planet, even intoxicated to the level max, seems more than up to the task of processing the situation…AYE FUCKIN RIGHT PAL HAUNDERS…he bellows over. This snaps the hoor out of it and she comes running towards me screaming her lungs out. I side step her no problem and trip her up, she goes flying. I think Will will be pleased, but no, he shouts something about, ‘that’s mah fuckin burd.’ and as I approach he takes a wild swing at me. I subdue him and pin him to the wall.

‘Will, Will, what are you doing man, I’m your friend. I have always defended you. When they said you paid a young girl five hundred to shite in your mouth I said, bollocks, you’ve all been reading too much Welsh, these awful tales have rotted your minds. The man churns out nothing but purile pish. He’s dreadful. Read Will Self, Will is a real writer, he’s at the cutting edge of contemporary fiction, a master of his craft. But they weren’t the only ones Will, the cruel internet message-boarders spread their filth… “I fucking hate Will Self,” they said, “he’s an arrogant, obnoxious, self important prick”…You bastards, I replied, you think you’re safe chapping out bile on your keyboards but be sure I will find you and I will execute terrible retribution for these scandalous lies. I tried my best Will but they proved elusive. But I tried, don’t you see, I TRIED.

He leans forward, here it is, the whispered thanks I deserve but he spits in my eyes with the ferocity of a venomous snake. The back of my head explodes with a searing pain as the hoor attempts to embed her stiletto into my skull. I grab Will Self’s face and thump his head against the stone wall, I spin round  and bang the screeching harridan’s ear with a cupped hand forcing the trapped air right through till it perforates the drum. Maximum pain on impact. But my ordeal isn’t over. The pub clientele has spilled out into the street. Irvine Welsh readers to a man. They had heard me decrying their hero, here on his own turf and they look crazy enough to kill. It makes good sense to run.

I cross the Leith boundary and slip into the pub for a pint. I sit down on a bar stool and tell the barman…’you know when people say you should never meet your heroes, there’s a lot of truth in that.’

WASPS

The Time of the Wasp.

 No mistake it is, once again, the time of the wasp. Don’t worry they’re just posh ants that make a right guid ol crunching noise when crushed. Whatever y’do don’t try and shoo them out yer house unharmed because they will STING YOU!

Anyway it’s good sport, a rolled up paper is the business when they’re near the window but mid flight the weapon of choice has to be the wet dishcloth…HEAR THAT CRACK WASP FUCKERS? EH, HERE THAT? THAT’S THE SPEED OF SOUND!

 But they’re always good for a story, ye canny beat a wasp story; from the gnarled auld gardener crushing a wasp’s bike with his bare hands to the bagpipe busker, mid tune, cross eyed, tryin to blaw one off his nose…classics. I, myself, was waxing lyrical in an e-mail about a bastarn nasty sting in the throat when I was out fishing last year. But some arsepieces just go right over the score; flappin and screechin like someone no right in the heed. Aw that does is annoy them and some poor bastard sitting quiet ends up getting stung. Where does that come from? Ye canny imagine, 5000BC, a bunch of bear-skinned hunters gnawing on the skull of some sabre-toothed predator getting too worked up about a wasp that’s just flew into the cave. Although it does put a new slant on…’it’s no a tiger’.

Does Anything Eat Wasps?

 That was the title of the book looming out from the shop window, I couldn’t walk past, I had to know. Seemingly lots of things do, including:- dragon flies, badgers, birds, bats and rats. But better, much better, here’s a new take on the old feeding spiders with flies routine….

‘I was once idly observing a wasp crawling round the edge of a water lilley leaf in my pond when it paused to drink. There was a sudden flurry of activity when a frog leapt from its hiding place and swallowed the wasp

The frog did not appear to suffer any ill effects, so I captured another wasp, tossed the hapless creature into the pond and waited. The frog was slow on the uptake, but there was another disturbance in the water and this time a goldfish snapped up the wasp. The fish, too, seemed undisturbed.

My curiosity now thoroughly aroused, I wondered whether the fish could be induced to consume further wasps. For the next hour or so I continued to hunt down luckless wasps and throw them into the pond. Some got away, some were eaten by the fish, and a few were swallowed by the frogs.’

 So no bored kids again. Ever.

The Fundamental Attribution Error.

 Lecturer : …maybe the Fundamental Attribution Error is at work here.

 Me : the what?

 Lecturer: you’re supposed to know this, the F.A.E. is when we judge someone for what we imagine they are rather than what’s actually happening. For example; you observe a man in a park howling like a wolf, dancing a mad jig and hauling his clothes off, your immediate judgement will probably presume that he is suffering some kind of mental disturbance rather than the real, actual cause – a wasp is trapped in his under-garments. Understand?

 Me: aye I think so. So when some guy comes tearing down the street, stark naked, terrified, screeching for help it would be wrong to think…jeezo here comes the latest rent boy escaping from Boy George’s torture chamber…when what actually is happening is that it’s a harmless naturist who’s been sunbathing in his back garden but he’s accidentally sat on an ant-hill and his arse is stapped full of angry, stinging ants.

 Lecturer: erm, no, I think you might have failed to fully grasp this concept. Read up for next week.

 Christ only knows what the face was for, it was him that started it. Anyway read up I did and I learned this :-

 In social psychology, the fundamental attribution error  describes the tendency to over-value dispositional or personality-based explanations for the observed behaviors of others while under-valuing situationalexplanations for those behaviours. The fundamental attribution error is most visible when people explain the behaviour of others. It does not explain interpretations of one’s own behaviour—where situational factors are often taken into consideration.

 And also that there was trouble in the camp…extract:-

Jones wrote that he found Ross’s term (FAE) “overly provocative and somewhat misleading”, and also joked, “Furthermore, I’m angry that I didn’t think of it first.

 Which reminded me of when someone told me that he was reading a book and a character in it would capture and tie wasps to the hammer of an old fashioned alarm clock so that when he woke up in the morning two wasps were getting battered to oblivion. Which raised two questions in my mind…how do you attach them without getting stung and, why didn’t I think of that. 

EVEN SERPENTS SHINE

Michael Jackson and courtroom dramas are indeed a heady mix and he’s back, well not him personally but I saw on the news a frightened looking doctor up in the dock getting the blame thrown on him. Not entirely unexpected, it had to be someone’s fault and anyone suggesting the King of Pop to be anything less than totally blameless is a rabble rousing renegade who deserves to be beaten to within an inch of his life by the good ol` boys of the LAPD.

Jackson has always been a bit of a nonentity for me, roughly the same age we peaked at the same time but definitely on separate stages, at no point in my hay days do I recall screeching like a daft wee lassie or breaking my own balls in a desperate attempt to master the moonwalk. But after he was mercifully dispatched from this world I did write something about him. And here it is:-

I thought the worm was turning, they were dropping like flies, two Sleb supermongs Michael Jackson and Jade Goody, gone, no more; Jackson, an abhorrent pederast more than capable of washing what’s left of his face in the leaking body fluids of a too long dead Hollywood child star if he thought it would turn him into Elizabeth Taylor and Goody, an attention seeking harridan who would’ve gladly paid a surgeon a Heat magazine fee to sculpt her fat arse into that of a pre-pubescent boy’s to put herself in the running for some of that legendary maypole Dick action.

Indeed, and that just about does it for me. But Jackson DID encroach into my life, once upon a time long, long ago in that most excellent of early opening bars The Penny Black and it went something like this:-

BARMAN THAT LOOKS LIKE THE SINGER FAE THE SWEETS DA : what y’ having?

ME: pint pal.

GEORDIE FOOL THAT’S BEEN IN SINCE 5.05 (am): reet whaat ah waaz sayin boney lad waaz that thon droomer boy from the Baaay Ceeety Roooolers like waaz a nonce…bairns man, can y’magine onythin worse?

BARMAN: nah that’s unfair he was accused yes but that was all, didn’t get done.

FOOL: whaat abooot the manger then, he waaz a reet fookin perverted nonce baastard.

BARMAN: no arguments there.

FOOL: waayaye man the seventies waaz full o them…look at Gary Fookin Glitter man day y’ wanna be in his gang ..what gangs thaat likes? A gang o fookin nonces.

BARMAN: nobody knew at the time though did they?

FOOL: waaat y’fuckin waant man, he divvn’t go and wear a fookin jacket wi AHM A PERVO NONCE stamped on the back?

BARMAN: well, no, course not but..

FOOL: but fook all man, see me, ahma reet HEAVY ROCKER me likes, nah fookin Michael Fookin Jackson records in my bag, ah’ll tell yiz thaaat fur nothin.

I wasn’t mistaken his gaze had homed in on the bag which contained my long awaited copy of the Only Ones new album I had just picked up from the shop. Surely this burly rocker who was beating his own chest like an ape, declaring his preferred musical tastes, didn’t suspect me as being in possession of a Michael Jackson recording. You didn’t need to be a genius to figure out a middle-aged man in an old Motorhead t-shirt, filthy Levi jacket and sporting a greasy pony tail half way down his back was into hard rock or that the barman with the feathered hairstyle might have more than just the one glam rock record in his collection but what of a guy wearing black 501’s and a t-shirt. Was this the garb of a hardened Michael Jackson aficionado? I had no idea. What I did know, for sure, was that the Fool’s belligerence was fuelled by a dangerous mixture of strong drink and bad cocaine and that caution should not just be the chosen but the only path. I mulled over in my mind what had just happened; sure the insult was implied rather than direct but the Michael Jackson association was too much to bear. I had to sort this out. His face was red and horrible as he stared at me incredulous that anybody would be stupid enough to invade his space when he was on a full flight rant. This is it, I thought, I’m going to die, I’m going to be killed because my stupid pride won’t let me swallow a half hearted Michael Jackson insult.

ME: do I look like a fuckin Michael Jackson fan?

He pondered this…gravely. I braced myself for the pain.

FOOL: nah bonny lad, that y’dont, hey Goldilocks get this man a fookin beer.

Outside and rushing, don’t want to miss another train. A beggar in a yellow quilted dressing gown is yelling THAT’S A FOREIGN COIN at a couple of comedians – hearts fans who’ve got their scarves tied round their heads and sporting maroon, silky bomber jackets. Living proof if proof’s needed that … all that glitters is not gold and even serpents shine

never fear, the Network Rail storm-troopers are efficient and ruthless


I was in Lockerbie station yesterday a wee bit early for my train, the cosy waiting room providing more than adequate shelter from the storm – a forbodding dark sky, lightning, hailstones as big as yer fist … it wiz wild. There was me, a rugby kinda guy drinking a bottle of beer and a young lassie with one o they lapdog things. Then a stationmaster walks by glaring in, sees the beer bottle, stops in his tracks and lurches in, points to the beer and roars NAE DRINKIN IN THE STATION at the rugby guy, who slopes off outside under the dubious protection of the platform veranda. Next thing he glowers at the lassies pet as if it had just shat on the carpet, GUIDE DUGS ONLY IN THE WAITING ROOM. Then he turned to me and fear gripped my heart, this crabbit old bastard was obviously mad! I was innocent but who knew the limitations of this lunatic. I had visions of him rummaging through my swimming gear and discovering some smuggled, rare, highly endangered reptile species or hauling a bag of high grade cocaine from the sweaty crevices of my arse. But he saw no obvious crime and I could see the fury building up in his face as he settled for marching back outside, muttering threats and slamming the door in disappointment at my lack of guilt.

As psychological studies go Stanley Milgram’s obedience to authority study must be one of the best known, don’t know it? Here’s the just:-

A group of people are recruited to participate in a scientific experiment. They were told the findings of this experiment were important to science as it was an investigation to discover how people learn. When their subjects got something wrong they’re told to administer electric shocks. The findings were amazing and unexpected because the majority of recruits were prepared to administer lethal doses of electricity because they were instructed to do so by a man in a white coat.

Now I’m not one to throw round unfounded, wild accusations and am prepared to admit my ignorance as to the working ethos involved in the Network Rail working practice but this stationmaster donned no white coat, no, this madman’s uniform was as black as the Earl o Hell’s waistcoat, that he wore with pompous pride, but then again, why shouldn’t he? These trains run on time.

BRATS

 

A few days ago I wandered up to the window to see if we were in for a shower, unfortunately no Hanging Gardens of Babylon round here, no, just two young cherubs smashing bottles onto the road. Aw, I thought, that’s a shame it’s not just the youths that are bored, you’d think the powers that be would provide some sort of recreation for when the primary school gets out. It’s not their fault, they probably come from the sort of home that would have good old Jezza Kyle ripping his hair out by the roots. And surely, even though they were looking in my direction, the finger and WHAT THE FUCK R YOO LOOKIN AT YE NOSEY AULD CUNT must have been meant for someone else, someone old, and nosey.

THERE IS A STAR THAT STILL SHINES BRIGHTLY

“Video killed the radio star”…BOLLOCKS!

If, for no other reason than the awful sight of Jeremy Clarkson’s massive moose head looming out at you as if it’s gonna eat the couch, you feel the telly is absolute shite these days it’s time to get with the wise. Get yer good selves a, no pissing about trying tae tune the fucker, digital radio. They’re great!

Take last night for instance if you don’t mind a Taggart so ancient it had old whisky puss himself in it, a self congratulatory QI smugfest, some ridiculous crime serial, a bunch of pissed up brawlers screaming abuse at the polis and, of course, Jimmy Fucking Car, the telly would’ve done ya just nicely. But us WISE GUYS, us in the know, we were listening to our radios.

Oh yes, and what was on offer? Radio 6 – Don Letts aah the cool dude rasta man dj in person ye canny beat him for cool tunes, and remember, old Don, he doesn’t play anything he don’t like himself. Radio 4 extra-  Pulp Fiction, not the Tarrintino version but old school fifties noir hard boiled gangsters and cops crackin half hr. story narrated by a cigarettes and whiskey voiced growler. Radio 5 live sport, tennis, the flushing meadows battle between the Spaniard Nadal and the Scotsman Murray, what tennis on the radio, surprised? worth a listen if only for Murray cursing himself, the man’s a legend and radio 5 -up all night – mr radio voice himself, Doton Abadayo.

RightY oh, zenbuddy signing off here…Hibs v.s the Dons ON THE RADIO.