Funeral, this morning. Our Holy Redeemer’s. It’s not a popularity contest, but tends to be busier when someone dies young. That’s why, when it’s my turn for the casket, I hope there’s nobody there, not even me. Joe Reddick was a bit younger than me. He was born in 1965, but followed a familiar route. He attended my primary school, St Stephen’s, but when Our Lady of Lorreto opened he moved down there because that’s where people from Dalmuir West went. Then Joe went to St Andrew’s, another of my old stomping grounds. I didn’t know him then. You’d need to fast forward (or go back) to when Joe started drinking in The Dropp Inn, having the odd pint with his dad, Joe (senior). I was on nodding terms with Joe junior then.
I got to know Joe (junior) better when Elaine, who technically ran the pub, organised a trip, where Fiona behind the bar practiced a kind of Dropp Inn socialism, one for her, one for the pub and one drink to you, and you might, or might not, get change. Lassez-faire without the inconvenience of being fair. I signed up for the bus run because it was very cheap and it was Butlins in Ayr. There was even a bus waiting outside the pub to take us there. Young Joe was the driver.
Joe later told me that he was a bus driver, but he wasn’t, because they’d found out he was colour blind. That’s probably why he wore dark glasses; shades also helped him look cool. For Joe life and traffic lights were always changing to a dazzling green, giving him right of way. Nobody could stop him. But when we got to Butlins I found out it wasn’t Butlins. Counterfeit Butlins the place we ended up, was a place where people parked caravans, but it was in Ayr. There the similarity ended. They did have a kind of clubhouse, which they tried to bar everybody from our bus from getting into, or out of, on the quite reasonable grounds that we were too loud, too drunk and acted unreasonable like people trying to enjoy three days not in the sun, and this is hard to believe, a place worse than Dalmuir West, because at least you could escape from the latter, as Joe proved with his frequent trips to the Boulevard.
I didn’t really see much of Joe after Counterfeit Butlins, but he was single then and teaching Mark, his nephew, one of the twins, the ropes, how to pull women. We’d be sitting squeezed in at a table and Joe would crane his neck and spot some girl that looked quite smart. It was a barn-like room and the good-looking girl would be over the other side of the room, sometimes in company or even up dancing. Joe would start whistling. You’ve probably seen it on Saturday morning telly, or god help us the ABCminors, the type of whistling that has Lassie running up to cock its head and look at you, and say who is it exactly that wants rescued and where are the Indians. Joe whistled like that. When he got his intended victims attention, he’d keep whistling and wave the girl towards him. If you were sitting at the same table as him and Mark, which I was, you’d be shaking your head and drinking your beer and saying ‘are you fuckin, daft?’ But fair play to Joe, he kept at it, guiding whoever he targeted to within smooching distance with his whistles. Then he’d give the intended victim his famous impish grin. And he’d say something so clichéd and boring that Lassie would be shaking it’s head at you and telling you in dog language that it was woofing off to the Cat and Dog Home at Dumbarton and asking to be bulleted, pronto. But the strange thing was Joe seemed to get the green light from the girl he whistled down. It was interesting watching an expert in action. Mark, of course, didn’t have the same cocky grin, was a red-light kind of guy that needed to pay right on the knob for his pleasures.
Mark read a more sober eulogy at the funeral and got a bit of a laugh by telling us that Joe had worked for every bus company in Scotland. He met his wife at the Uefa Cup Final in Seville and they had two –young- kids. Tragic they are growing up without their dad. Let’s hope and pray there’s not a Counterfeit heaven to whistle down.