I’ve read Morvern Caller, The Sopranos, The Stars in the Bright Sky, and The Deadman’s Pedal. I liked them all, or I wouldn’t have finished reading them. Life’s too short to mess about reading shite. The Deadman’s Pedal, when we take the foot off the gas the train comes to a halt. There’s a metaphor there somewhere. The Deadman’s Pedal is my favourite Warner book of this collection.
The other books involved gaggles of young girl narrators from the Port, a wee town up past Fort William, making their drunken way into a world that doesn’t offer much, but fuck it, they’re taking it anyway. Red Hannah, for example, has a walk on part as Morvern Caller’s dad who adopted her, but has retired from the railways and ends up shagging her mate.
For those looking for clues who Alan Warner is then the dedication is a dead giveaway, ‘for Mike Moorcock and for all the boys of the old station’.
Red Hannah, also gets a walk on part, or train ride here, because he’s part of the twelve disciples, the train workers that run the trains from the Port to Glasgow and back again. Simon, the Young Fellah, leaves school and falls into the job of trainee driver, much as I’d expect a young Alan Warner did.
Warner is great at group gigs and his plotting runs as sweet as a British Rail timetable. Simon, being a bit of a shagger, has a number of girls on the go, but it never seems that way. We meet Simon on page 15, aged 15, outside the school gates with his pal, Galbraith and they’re talking about leaving school, but there’s no real need. Simon’s da is pretty wealthy, he runs a road haulage firm and has ten lorries on the road. Road haulage is replacing the railway as the way to transport goods. Simon can’t drive a lorry until he’s eighteen. No such age restriction apply to school girl Nikki Clarke.
As Galbraith says, ‘Imagine riding it. Legs. Little shoes with heely things.’
Simon fancies her, of course, he does. But he also fancies Nikki Caine’s older sister, who’s gallus in a way that we know from all those other Stars in the Bright Sky.
Hing on a minute you’ll be thinking, how come we’re at page 15 before all this happens? Well, the first part is about Little Moan, and goes back ten years to 1961, the ancestral home of the Bultitude’s and the Queen is paying a visit. As you’d expect it’s not a council estate, landed gentry, rich cunts that robbed the land.
Page 83, June 1973, Simon, his wee brother Jeff, Galbraith and Big Davie trail behind the Bultitude’s, ‘eight horses and their erect riders’. That’s not the only thing erect.
Big Davie puts Varie in the frame, much like Galbraith does with Nikki Clarke. ‘Davie said patiently, “That’s the daughter: Varie Bultitude. Fucking spunk-dripper on a set of legs, man. I’d shag her bedroom floor.”’
Good looking, beautiful, she looked like a young…Bridget Bardot, but with black hair, aye, if you’re trying your hand at creative writing I’ll let you away with the latter. ‘But fucking spunk dripper on a set of legs,’ aye, that’s more than beautiful, that’s so fucking true. Simon’s not so simple. Read on.