I don’t know how Ian McVeigh got the name Clank, but he was the Clank Gable of Dalmuir, only he seemed to pop up everywhere, like God or the Devil. I hadn’t, for example, been in the John Rea’s snooker hall in years (obviously, before lockdown) I turned around and Clank was standing behind me. I went to the Drop Inn and Clank was playing pool. Later I headed to the Mountie and Clank Gable turned up. Clank didn’t as much stalk you as wear you down. I guess that’s how he was such a success with women of a certain age.
Clank was born on the same day as John Mitchell, his buddy, that died on Monday, but Clank was also the same age as Annie Lennox. Annie Lennox, now that would have been a challenge for Clank. I’ve seen him in action, close up. Clank would always be a bit short with the cash, so he wouldn’t be matching you round for round. That was more a hypothetical idea. He’d bought a pint of lager as entry fee, had a look about and if Annie Lennox wasn’t an Aberdeen wifey, smelling something fishy, he’d have sidled up and pounced. Blondie dyed hair, same age as him, bit haggard in the face and loaded. That was Clank’s type.
Everybody’s got a Clank story, some of them quite unbelievably believeable. I met him on the square outside Dalmuir library. He’d a bottom-tier flat in Pattison Street, but he was never in, he was always out, looking for the next bitty thing. He’d have gone to his own funeral to have a look about.
‘I’m aff it,’ Clank said that day. Shook his head and screwed up his face. ‘That drink doesnae do you any good.’
I nodded my head. Half an hour later, standing in the rain, I was still nodding my head and agreeing with him. But he didn’t do fitba, because he knew I was a Celtic man.
‘Rangers are shite,’ he said. I was still nodding. ‘You want to go for a pint?’
The next guy he met, he’d be telling, ‘That Celtic are a bad lot’.
As we all do, Clank moulded the truth as he went along. When he was wee, Clank got on the coach that left outside Browns and went on trips to places like Morecambe Bay with his older brother Jimmy and his Ma. Staying in a caravan the size of a baked bean with no telly and no toilet. We all did it. Clank worked on and off, but usually off, he had a few longer term relationships, but he didn’t talk about them. They were in the past. He lived in the present, like a kid. And his longest lasting relationship was with his Alsatian dog. He couldn’t bear to get it put down and practically carried it about.
Annie Lennox did the right thing, avoiding Clank. The twenty-million quid that the British Government spent opening Colvilles Steel Plant, later nationalised as Ravenscraig, the year they were born, Annie Lennox must have that kind of spare change lying about too.
One of my favourite Clank stories is when he was chatting up an older woman, a bit worse for wear, which he favoured, but came away with the immortal line: ‘I’d love to take you out.’ Shrug of the shoulders and that wee moustache quivering, face giving it large, ‘But I’m a bit short’.
She goes into her bag and pulls out twenty quid. And holds it out.
Clank reaches for it and says, ‘You no drinking?’
Another Clank story was one of his mates got jailed when they were over in Jersey. Small island. Only one prison. Clank found it and went to visit him, wearing his mate’s new leather jacket. He explained the boys had a whip round, but it wasn’t quite enough for bail. He promised to come back the following day, after they had another whip round to make up the balance. We all know how that went. His mate was sent home to think again wearing a demob suit from Hepworths.
But you could never stay mad at Clank. He’d start agreeing with you. Explaining. Then you’d be up at the bar, buying him a drink feeling sorry for him. Not that he’d ever want you feeling sorry for him, he’d tell you. And tell you some more. Aye, life was shite. Maybe another pint would sort it. Boom and bust. Just so happened he’d a bust flush. These things happen.
I’m wondering if Annie Lennox knows about Clank. I heard it was cancer killed him. She should really know—what she missed. I know she’s into reincarnation. You always got Clank the same way. When the great wheel of karma spins, he’ll be reincarnated as Clank. He never let you down. Or wanted to hurt your feelings. He’d simple needs. And Clank knew everybody—apart from Annie Lennox—and he didn’t have enemies. Some people looked down on him, but they should look at themselves in the mirror. You could always trust Clank to do the right think, especially if it was the wrong thing. Clank was one of us, for richer or poorer and he preferred the former. Spin the wheel of dharma. Like many others, I’d have liked to have gone to Clank’s funeral too. Pay my respects, like I would gone to John Mitchell’s. It’s not to be. I’m sure Clank would have understood. RIP.