I bought a copy of A Working Class State of Mind because I like Colin Burnett’s writing. I’m an editor on ABCtales and some of his fiction appeared online. Most of the other editors are English. Whisper it, we’ve even got an American. But he recognised the moron’s moron Trump as the narcissistic psychopathic puckered lips organism that he proved to be. I got nudged towards Colin Burnett’s work because as the resident Scot it was my domain. And Colin Burnett writes in the Scottish dialect of Leith as did Irvine Welsh in Trainspotting.
It’s a risky venture, because it limits the number of potential readers in a market saturated with fiction, and everybody shouting and nobody listening. But hey, even Rabbie Burns needed the helping hand of the Masons to become an international icon. The Scottish language promotes intimacy, and in getting closer to the language you get to closer to yourself and your class, or so James Kelman would have us believe. What resonates within us is who we are. And if you’re one of those that declare I’ve no interest in politics then you’ve not been paying attention. Politics is about power. And we the working class lost the propaganda war by the early seventies. The narrator in the first story, ‘A Working Class State of Mind’ puts it this way.
The greatest trick those in power ever pulled wis gittin the workers tae believe we aw huv equal opportunities. Fae the moment we first open our eyes and until the time finally comes tae close thum. Oor lives huv been mapped oot fur us by they’m fae the cradle tae the grave. In this country ‘cash is class’. When yur born intae a family wae a bit ae money and the right postcode, you’re oan the home straight while the rest ae us are jist warmin up fur the race.
A trio of characters run like Edinburgh rock through the stories. In the last story of the collection their backstory becomes the story. Dougie is about to go to Secondary School, the infamous Ainslie Park, but he’s got company, his wee mate Craigie is going to the same school. Dougie’s mum is trying to convince him it won’t be that bad.
‘That wis until ma faither decided tae inject himself intae the conversation.
“Son” he said, while lowerin his newspaper.
“Jist remember, eh? snitches git stiches.”’
The reader is already familiar with Aldo. Adlo is the ballast that makes most stories work; he appears as a wee skinny Asian kid with a kick-ass attitude. He’s a familiar figure in any working-class community. The hardman that takes nae shite. But he’s also funny, but not deliberately so. And he has a heart. In ‘Lost and Found’, for example, he rescues a stray puppy tossed like a hot dog from a car. We learn that Aldo had to split up from his one true love because he found out she was a Tory. I know the feeling well, having a big sister I slotted into that category, but there’s no divorcing her. The irony is there’s nobody more capitalist in his approach to the business of drug dealing than Aldo.
In ‘House of Horrors’, for example, gambling is just a casual breeze. ‘He didnae need the money as he made maire fae sellin snow than a doactur did fae savin lives. Still there wis aloat ridin oan this fuckin horse. Ma two grand, and Aldo’s yin.’
From ‘Wuhan to Leith’ and ‘Lost and Found’, Aldo’s innate capacity for violence is harnessed to indirectly help the community. But usually not in term of labour exploitation.
‘Business hus plummeted cos ae this virus. Ah’ve loast a lotae fuckin money, that’s fur sure. None ae ma runners will pick up or droap oaff fur me in case they catch it. Deep doon ah jist wish ah wis still dain ma community service cos nuttin wid deter they retards fae dain business. Thanks largely tae the fact that none ae thum are playin wae a full deck. Been buzzin oot ae ma nut maist ae the day. Oan coke and heavy bevyin.’
The weakest story in the collection is ‘Sebastian the Great’, possibly because there’s no Aldo. Here the narrator is Callum. He’s sipping watered down lager as he attends a literary even in Edinburgh. I guess we’ve all been there. I labelled them Americans. When asked what they have written they rhyme of a staggering amount of bullshit. And they’re hooked into the Scottish literary establishment. One guy I met had, like our friend Sebastian the Great, a grant from the Scottish Book Trust to write a book and was late by two years—but unconcerned. I read his book and it was shite, but hey, that’s my opinion. Everybody loved him, as does the middle-class in this story. The problem with the story isn’t in the facts. We know the publishing industry is dominated by the middle classes and mainly women. The problem with the story is it become a bit of a rant. Better if Aldo bust it up.
I’m becoming predictable too. I hate the Tory scum. And what we’ve become. That’s my rant. But Colin Burnett puts it more eloquently. Read on.
Noticed this about [adrenalin] andreline pumpin through yur veins, p14
Jeremey Kyle who wis convinced his cat wis the antiChrist. It wis summit tae dae wae the cat sittin oan his phone and diallin 666 (p16).
Ah guess General Custard must huv said the
same hing at Little Bighorn. And we aw ken what
turned up there, another load ae irate Indians [overwriting]
Ah feel like Leith’s answer tae Dr Dolittle 21
And when the time comes tae draw oor final
breath, we’ve accumulated enough debt that our
creditors will be hoadin a seance. 24
The greatest trick those in power ever pulled wis gittin the workers tae believe we aw huv equal opportunities [all in it together] 24
Story about a spider. Robert the Bruce, Bannockburn.
The greatest trick
those in power ever pulled wis gittin the workers tae
believe we aw huv equal opportunities. Fae the
moment we first open our eyes and until the time
finally comes tae close thum. Oor lives huv been
mapped oot fur us by they’m fae the cradle tae the
grave. In this country ‘cash is class’. When yur born
intae a family wae a bit ae money and the right
postcode, you’re oan the home straight while the rest
ae us are jist warmin up fur the race. 24
House of Horrors.
ah’m oan yin ae
they zerohour contracts. Ken, the hings where yae
dinnae ken if yur gonnae earn a quid or a livin wage
fae month tae month. And that’s why the bookies 28
As ah enter the shoap flair the young
cashier Megan wis chattin tae Auld Tam at the coonter.
Yince she cloacked ma presence in the shoap ah’m
suddenly bein cawed oor by her.
“Dougie” she says. “Come oor here fur a
second. Yae kin settle this argument fur us.” 29
A puny boay cawed Paul
who ah kent fae the boozer hud jumped oantae a till.
He wis a small guy wae prickly black hair and a
tangerine complexion, due tae his love ae the sunbeds.
Aldo knoacked this boays front teeth oot wae yin
Ah couldnae understand why Stevie hudnae
mentioned Aldo wis involved in the mayhem. Probably
thoat it went withoot sayin. Ah love the guy, ken? but
Aldo scares the shite oot ae me.
“Fur fuck sake” ah says. “Anywey, why are yae
whisperin? Aldo’s no even here” ah add as ah take a
casual peek aroond the room, jist tae be shaire.
ah’ve no seen Aldo in
here fur nearly a week.
mother and faither own and run a popular Indianoan
Portobello High Street. Aw his faimily are hard workin,
law abidin citizens, and they didnae ever toil fur
money. So there really wisnae any excuses fur Aldo
and the borderline insane wae the wey he’s turned oot. ‘A Little Taste of India’
might be a lunatic but he’s oor lunatic, 36
Now ah kin feel ma hert skippin a beat
and ma blood pressure seems tae huv went up a notch
or two efter aw that excitement fae the race. The hing is
though yae kin ask any seasoned gambler and they’ll
tell yae what ah’m aboot tae say: “A gid start doesnae
add inches tae yur dick.” 37
“How yae doin ya willy
Fae that remark ah didnae need tae be
Columbo tae ken who it is: Aldo. He alweys makes
the same stupid joke anytime ah see him
must be aboot 6ft 2 wae a muscular build oan accoont
ae bein a weightliftin and droid enthusiast. He hus
these tribal tattoos covered acroass his bald heid, which
doesnae make him look any less ae a looney tune.
Ah’m a haime help.”
This is the first time in
months ah’ve been anywhere near a win.
He didnae need the money as he made maire fae
sellin snow than a doactur did fae savin lives. Still there
wis aloat ridin oan this fuckin horse. Ma two grand,
and Aldo’s yin.
probably only gits tae see boays like this oan the telly.
Someboady who wis born wae a silver
cock in his mooth. Tae ma shock and the posh cunts
nerves, Aldo seems tae take in what ah jist said tae
him and he gestures wae his hands that he is ready tae
forgive the boay fur winnin by remarkin: “Yur right,
Sebastian the Great. 47
night ae networkin as a writer at yin ae these fancy
theatres in the centre ae Edinburgh. Aye ah goat
invited through makin the shoart list fur a playwritin
Maist ae the folk in here emit that
unmistakeable smell ae private education.
Cos ah’m someboady who
doesnae believe the middle classes own a patent fur a
wee hing cawed ‘imagination’. In other words ah’m the
great, big, dirty pink elephant in the room.
“Ah’m, Callum” ah tell him. Before takin
another sip ae ma watered doon pint.
“So, Callum,” he says “how long have you been
“The past five year” ah say “what aboot yursel,
“Oh, fifteen years or, so.” He says. “Writing’s
been good to me, you know?”
“Naw ah dinnae fuckin ken.”
“Ah’ve been peyed only the yince” ah tell
him. “And that particular commission wis jist
enough tae keep me in beans and toast fur a week.”
This sends him intae an unrestrained fit
“That’s Melvin Andrews, the playwright. The
Scottish theatre fund has just handed him twelve
thousand pounds to write a play about why his last one
was so bad.”
“But if his last yin wis sae bad” ah say “Then
why are they commissionin him again?”
“He’s one of the chaps,” he tells me
reassuringly. “You don’t question the credentials of one
of the chaps. Better to just write a cheque.”
lits be real. We kent as many astronauts as we
did writers when we wur growin up.
comin fae behind me: “I haven’t missed Sebastian
Wolfston’s talk, have I?”
Oot comes a middle aged elegant looking boay
wae readin glesses pushed tae the edge ae his nose.
Grinnin fae ear tae ear, so he is. He’s goat long and
shiny luxourious black hair. Which is only bested wae
his Colgate smile and a yellow scarf draped roond his
neck like some Eton educated disciple.
“I know a lot of you are just starting out on your
writing career,” he says. “But just remember one
important thing. Your first commission is likely to be
no more than five thousand pounds. But don’t worry.
Eventually you still start to make real money …”
Though, of course. Ah dinnae scream anyhing.
Ah jist sit there smilin and applaud back at him.
Along wae the rest ae these performin seals.
even a new symptom ae the virus itself. Fuck
knows, likes. But what ah do ken fur sure is
ah’m self isolatin until ma beautiful English
mother tongue starts workin again.
“It wis inspired by ma hatred fur Boris Johnson
and of course ma own personal loathin fur the Tories.”
Sebastian stares wary intae ma eyes. Before he
bursts intae a high pitch fit ae hysterical laughter.
seat ah cannae
help but hink that ah’ve played aw ae these posh cunts
at their haime groond and actually won. 58
The Sleeping Giant 59
Ah said “Yae cannae
jist throw awey sivin year like a yaised rubber,
Cool as you like “Silly me, Douglas” she said “I
forgot you’re a student of Shakespeare.”
“Come on!” she hud said “Let’s make an
appointment at RBS.”
Choosin tae furget, inexplicably, mind you. The
yin fact aboot me that her and the entire world kent.
That ah um a degenerate gambler.
the mere suggestion ae shared finance is
insanity. And wis pretty much the same hing as handin
me a loaded gun.
how she earns twice as
much as me when she’s oot there teachin snotty nosed
ah meant tae ken that the selfish bastard
ah’d backed that day wida went and snapped his neck
efter failin tae sail oor the final fence.
ma plan wis tae huv the money back
in the accoont before she wid even notice.
ah wis suspended fae ma joab pendin an investigation
“He was your responsibility, you were his
carer” she says. As if ah didnae hear enough ae that fae
Brian’s daughter and the rest ae his enraged family.
This wis a boay who survived the might ae the Third
Reich and a Japanese POW camp but in the end it wis a
simple peanut who cawed his number.
Aldo come tae inject
his ain lethal dose ae misery intae ma awready shitty
existence. Sure as shite tae. As ah answer the door ah’m
faced wae the steroid induced psycho that he is.
“Ah bumped intae Justine yisterday at that posh
coffee shoap in the centre ae toon ‘Sicilia’. She wis wae
some flash cunt cawed, Mario.”
“She wis wae Mario?” ah snap “that fuckin
“Ah ken this cunt is probably geein yur burd
her medicine the noo. 64
“Either that cunt Mario hus grown a third airm
fae somewhere or he’s goat a big cock” Aldo explains
tae me. 65
Ah only came tae invite yae fur a pint wae me
and Craig themorra doon at The Carousel. Craig’s goat
a new tart he wants us tae meet, true love apparently.
Aw and its quiz night tae. And as it happens wur
shoart ae a boay n aw.”
She went tae yin ae they places where they check yur
parents bank balance before agreein tae lit yae step
inside. St Johns Academy wis cawed. Nae doot yuv
heard ae it but in case yae huvnae then “We Are All
Posh Cunts” is actually the school motto.
Ah stroll through The Kirkgate. A wee shoartcut
taewards The Carousel. The place appears tae be
Justine wis alweys whingin in ma ear aboot how
ah shouldnae be best mates wae Aldo. Anytime his
name came up in conversation aw ah wid git fae her
wis “I don’t know how you can be friends with him.
He’s a stain on society.” Ah mean, dinnae git me
wrong, she hinks Craig is a fanny tae but at least she’s
marked him doon as a loveable yin. 69
“Savin the Kids” ah laughed. “Wur talkin aboot
Aldo here, no fuckin Bono. He jist hus a strict zero
tolerance policy oan cunts stealin his customers.”
Which jist so happened tae state the sentiments
ae maist ae the folk here: ‘Hibee Til I Die’.
“Fur fuck sake” ah crack. “Is there anycunt in
Edinburgh who doesnae ken?!” [no exclamation mark after a question mark, you can have your own language, but not punctuation.
“Aldo, take it easy man” ah say. “The fuckin
hing is finished noo, anywey.”
“Naw, mate. We’ve been cairyin that cunt since
primary. He’s alweys been a doughball. Dozy prick
nearly drooned dookin fur apples yin year. He’s been a
fuckin liability fae day yin.”
“Aw” says Aldo. Before he shouts acroass the
room tae the lassie: “Excuse me love?! kin yae move
oot ae the wey, eh? Ah’m tryin tae cloack a tidy burd
and yur blockin the view!”
Craig seems tae be in a state ae utter disbelief.
“That is her ya prick. Caroline?! Wur oor here,
Aldo bursts intae a fit ae laughter.
“That’s her? Fuck me, Craigy son” he scoffs.
“Aw that snow really hus fucked up yur eyesight,
But Aldo hus decided he’s hayin none ae it. He’s
clearly grown tired ae ma depressed mood. And every
five or ten minutes he’s offerin me an E. He takes a
small yelly tablet fae his jean poacket. Huddin it up
intae the light. As if he wur apprasin a diamond.
“See this wee hing, eh? it’ll take awey aw yur
The pair ae us aw teary eyed and
moved. Well, try and live through ten year ae the
Tories ya middle class ersehole. That’ll gee yae suttin
tae really greet aboot.
These workinclass hero thoats disappear when
the voice comes in though. A female, familiar voice,
which isnae Justine.
“What the fuck are yur dain here?!” ah ask her,
in a terrified, panicked state.
Sheep without a Shepherd 85
Yae see ah come fae a corner ae
Edinburgh cawed Leith. A place that wisnae known fur
it’s vibrant art scene or welcomin personality. Insteed,
it’s moment in the spotlight came fae the exploits ae it’s
skagboays and high levels ae social deprivation. Ma
name’s Steven Scott, by the wey. Ah’m thirty year auld
and ah’ve hud maire dreams than opportunities.
kicks in the baws fae life than ah care tae remember,
Ma minutes and hours oan this planet wur
programmed tae be spent in some soul destroyin
callcentre fur a pittance oor minimum wage.
When ma faither wis a young man. Back when
he wis aboot ages wae me now. He worked doon at the
world famous Henry Robb shipyaird.
The shipyaird closed in ’84, likes. Efter ma dad
and his mates marched fae the gates. Aw the wey
acroass tae the auld state cinema in Great Junction
Street. A revolt which ultimately failed as a final stand
against the establishment. 87
huddin up a sign which read “Dinnae bring back the
Whether yae went
tae graft oan the shipyairds or doon the pits it gave yae
a life long sense ae camaraderie. Thatcher took that
birth right awey fae future generations.
tae. But only if yae wur willin tae die fur Queen
and capitalism “Here’s a rifle, son. Go oot and shoot
watch ma dad slip awey wae lung cancer.
And then ah hud tae sit and watch ma mum go capma mum passed awey wae cardiac
Ma weapon ae
choice wisnae a rifle or a chisel, it wis a library caird.
It suddenly dawned oan me that education is indeed
power. And there’s nuttin maire dangerous in this
country than a workin man wae a library caird who
isnae afraid tae use it.
“Mr Scott” it says. “We are delighted to inform
you, that you have an unconditional offer to study BSc
(Hons) Public Sociology at Queen Margaret University
The world really is ma
Glory Hunter 95
Aldo wis never a supporter ae Leith Star and he wis
never yin fur keepin his thoats oan the matter tae
himsel. Then there wis me and Craig who huv follaed
thum religiously since we wur auld enough tae wipe
oor ain erses.
since the majority ae thum are local lads and they
wid spend their weekends boozin doon at The
Carousel, jist like everyboady else. But when yur
talent’s bein cawed intae question by a sixfit two,
coked up, steroid induced mountain. 96
Fur oor big trip
oor tae face the dangerous Bonnyrigg Rose in the
Scottish Cup. This game is huge fur us, likes. As the
winner gits Clyde at haime in the nixt roond. And no
only that, but the match will be televised live oan
“Loast did they” he asked. Aw gloatin and
confident that this wis jist another glorious failure fur
the club. “Useless Motherfuckers.”
“Naw” ah telt him. “We fuckin won!!”
wearin a Leith
Star strip. And he kept mutterin the same words, oor,
and oor again “Wur in this taegether, lads”.
Honestly, it wis fuckin ootrageous. 100
Three supporter’s buses left fae
the Carousel at aroond quarter tae two. Bonnyrigg is a
wee workin class toon oan the ootskirts ae Edinburgh.
the opium ae these posh cunts is the blood, sweat and
tears ae the workin class. And the opium ae the workin
class is anyhin that blanks oot the realisation ae kennin
wur a mere slave tae the capitalist machine.” 102
“Excuse me, pal?!” he shouts oor tae the barman,
who is busy servin customers.
“Ma Granny coulda hit that baw harder ya fat
usless cunt, git yur erse in gear!!”
“Well, it’s cos he’s goat four fuckin fingers, ya
thick cunt!!” 107
This cunt is actually makin sense
fur yince. It’s no like playin by the rules hus goat me
anywhere before. This win wid set the the club up fur a
gid few years tae come. And lit’s be honest. Huvin
morals isnae what it’s aw cracked up tae be. 108
“Fur fuck sake, Aldo.
Yae jist cawed him the Jimmy Saville ae Scottish fitbaw.
Yae even tried tae pin an unsolved murder oan him fae
five year ago. He’s no taken the bait, ah hink its oor
Aldo’s masterplan tae fuck wae Bonnyrigg’s
keeper hus proved tae be nuttin shoart ae a
“Ah’m standin here wae a supporter who hus
follaed his team through the gid times and the bad.
What’s yur name, sir?”
“Aldo” he answers aw gleefully.
“Well, Aldo. Why don’t you tell me how proud
you are ae these players? This is a great achievement
fur yur club.”
“Aye, that’s right, Jim” Aldo tells him. There’s nuttin like the feelin ae community
spirit. And kin ah tell ma missus suttin, who’s back at
“We did it, baby! And you owe me ma hole
when ah git back!”
Ordinary Criminals 115
“Tommy, ah’ve goat suttin fur yae the dae” it
Ah thoat tae masel as ah turned roond: “Please,
God, dinnae lit it be this cunt” ― but sure as shit ah
wis faced wae this gleeful Postman Pat.
“Aw, that’s great, Gary” ah sais.
“Ah hope it’s gid news, Tommy” he tells me. 117
Accordin tae this glorified fish wrapper ma
Joabseekers Allowance hus been stoaped because ah
only managed tae apply fur fourteen joabs this week
instead ae the thirty these cunts wanted. Thirty joabs a
week? dinnae make me fuckin laugh, that’s maire the
Tories huv created since they miraculously goat intae
Ah goat tae
ma appointment at the Joabcentre oan Commercial
Street fur half ten in the mornin. Ma advisor wisnae
meant tae be seein me til ten tae eleven
Yince yur in this place that invisible Britain yae
only hear whispers aboot or see oan a thirty second
BBC news bulletin becomes clear as water. Aye, we’re
aw ordinary criminals in this place that’s the yin hing
that bounds us aw taegether. 123
“Sally, have you got the
vouchers for the Edinburgh North East foodbank
Ah must huv been standin aboot here fur at
least half an hour until ma name is finally cawed, “Mr
Cooper” a voice says.
Ah’m no messin likes, this wanker
looks like he’s yin cauld awey fae blowin his brains oot
. This [full stop on top line.]
Class Treason 129
Aldo and Craigy, are baith sat oan the vomitworthy,
cream leather couch. Craigy looks sober, likes. But its
clear yae cannae say the same hing aboot, Aldo.
He then looks up at us aw teary eyed “Lads,
they’re the best runners ah’ve ever hud.”
Ah pause. Understandin what he meant but
hopin tae fuck ah wis in fact mistaken.
“Please tell me you’ve no goat thum droappin
oaff gear fur yae, Aldo?”
He smirks, pleased as you like. “Of course. Ah
git cheap labour and they git tae finally serve a purpose
in society. Everboady’s a winner.”
Yae could cut the atmosphere in the room wae a
knife. Ma hert’s still beatin like a Cherokee drum due
tae the rush ae adrenaline. Craig tries tae engage me in
conversation “Where the fuck hus Aldo goat tae?”
“That”s fuckin right” he barks. “Yur a middle
class wannabe. The dregs ae society.”
“Look in the fuckin mirror” he explains. “Since
yae goat wae her you’ve become a middleclass
wanker. Fur fuck sake, yae dress like a banker noo”
“She’s goat gid fashion sense, that’s aw. Only
makes sense tae git her advice.”
“Sure” he says, wae a grin. “Then there’s this
“What’s wrong wae it, likes?”
“It looks like a fuckin showroom.
Aldo continues oan wae his tirade. “A couple’s
night?” he tuts. “If ever there wis three words that
didnae belong taegether in the same sentence. Ah bet
yae went tae some posh theatre or suttin. Tae watch
some tart greetin fur an hour cos she’s loast her shoe”.
ootburst ah never really gave any ae this
any thoat. But as much as it pains me tae admit it, eh?
he’s actually goat a point.
Aldo wis speakin
sense and that ah really huv become a middleclass
prodigy withoot even realisin it.
From Wuhan to Leith 139.
Business hus plummeted cos ae this virus.
Ah’ve loast a lotae fuckin money, that’s fur sure. None
ae ma runners will pick up or droap oaff fur me in case
they catch it. Deep doon ah jist wish ah wis still dain
ma community service cos nuttin wid deter they
retards fae dain business. Thanks largely tae the fact
that none ae thum are playin wae a full deck.
Been buzzin oot ae ma nut maist ae the day.
Oan coke and heavy bevyin. Yae could argue it’s a
normal day fur me but ah hink it’s a mindset hing wae
the boredom n that, ken? Started oan the gear earlier
and ah’ve jist been chillin oot. Listenin tae a few tunes,
ever since. It’s no the same as bein doon The Carousel
Lost And Found.
ah’m surprised wae what ah
find inside. Insteed ae a white brick ae gold ah’m
huddin this tiny puppy in ma airms. And it’s starin at
me wae its huge baby seal eyes. Jesus, he looks at me.
Before he lits oot a tired yawn and he seems content.
Which astonishes me, tae be honest seeins how he’s
jist been chucked oot a motor.
He’s lovin the attention tae. A proper
showman so he is. Lyin sprawled oot oan his back as he
takes in her beautiful Hollywood smile.
“He’s so cute” she squeals.
“Aye, he’s awrite” ah tell her.
“What’s his name?”
ah mean his name,
Thank fuck ah’d watched Die Hard last night
Will yae look at this, eh? this wee hings a fanny
magnet. Ah mean, she’s practically goat her mooth
wrapped aroond ma cock as we speak.
He droaps doon oan the couch a depressed and
defeated dug. He stares up at me and gees me a soft
whimper. Ah try tae make him understand ah’m dain
this fur him:
“Listen, you’ll love it there and in nae time
you’ll be wae yur new family.
The drive up tae the ‘Paws Dog Sanctuary’ oan
the ootskirts ae the toon hus been hard fur aw
“Aye, yae kin, mate” ah tell him. “Ah’ve broat
ma dug Bruce here tae be rehaimed.”
He smiles at me “You must be Mr Ali?
“Oh, god no” he tells me. “He’ll be a new
member of doggy heaven.”
“Lower yur fuckin voice, you!” ah scream. “He’s
goat a gid grasp ae English!”
“Bruce, dae yae ken that guy, eh? Talk tae me,
son?” He replies in barks which grow increasingly
louder. It’s a clear “Oh, ah ken that bastard, awright”
if ever there wis yin.
“Did you throw this dug fae oot that motor a
couple ae weeks back, daft cunt?”
He smirks knowingly, as if in appreciation ae a
cherished memory. “Oh, that?” he says. “That mut’s jist
lucky ma petrol wis oan the rid. Or he wid huv been
gone fur a swim doon the docks.”
“Bruce, son” ah say “cover yur eyes, pal. This is
gonnae be fuckin messy.”
And believe me, eh? It wis.
Fur Dalhousie Castle is
almost certainly yin ae the plushest venues in the hale
ae Scotland’s central belt.
So, yae kin imagine ma surprise when ma
beautifully decorated invite droapped through the
letterboax. Especially when yae consider this particular
delivery wis sent fae someboady who lives oan sixty
quid a week dole money.
Ah instantly felt obliged tae share the excitin
news wae wee Brucie. Who wis busy enjoyin his
“Brucie, son” ah said “Yur uncle Craigy is huvin
an enagement pairty”
The little man’s steyin wae Mrs Henderson fae
acroass the wey. Ah couldnae ask Christina tae look
efter him since we hud finished oan such unpleasant
terms. She hates ma guts. But ah’ll no bore yae wae the
distinctive lack ae talent
walkin up and doon the room. In fact, tae be honest
wae yae. Ah’ve no seen this many dugs assembled in
yin place since ah watched a hunner and yin
dalmatians in the 90’s. A reality which is as depressin
as it is demoralisin. Cos ah came along here wae much
enthusiasm and high hopes ae pullin. And that’s
exactly why ah pit oan ma best Ben Sherman shirt.
cloack the unlucky
bride standin there, as well. She’s the lassie wae the
animal print ootfit. Lookin every bit as if she’s a blond
beehive awey fae winnin a Lily Savage lookalike comp.
Ah’m startin tae question whether ah should git
up oaff ma erse and go in search ae the elusive, Dougie.
An unwanted physical approach
which startles me tae ma core.
“Awrite, Aldo” whispers a monstrous, ugly
voice, direct in ma ear.
And as ah turn tae reveal the soonds identity ah
see that it’s a vile lookin boay who’s wearin an equally
mignin burgundy cap. He’s also sportin a jaundice
coloured zippy which jist aboot pits him oan a par wae
Dougie fur the maist overstated fashion sense at this
“Dae ah fuckin ken you?” ah ask
“Nah” he says. “But…”
Ah stoap him midsentence “Well, ah dinnae
hink that needs tae change” ah say. Before ah wave him
awey like the bad smell he is.
Dougie responds wae a playful smile.
“So” he says, leanin forward. “Ah wis meanin
tae ask. What happened between you and Christina?
Ah thoat yae might go the distance?”
“That’s personal stuff, mate” ah tell him
“Widnae be right discussin it wae yae at a piss up. It
wis true love, me and her.”
Ma emotions git the better ae me and the pain ae
losin ma yin true love sets oaff the waterworks. Ah
bang ma fist oan the table “Ah cannae even say it”
“What did she dae, mate?” squeals Dougie.
“She wis a fuckin Tory” ah tell him, whist
greetin hard intae the tablecloth.
“A Tory?” he says “Ah dinnae fuckin believe
you sometimes, Aldo”
“Ah kept seein that Theressa May cunts puss,
when we shagged. Sometimes ah couldnae even git it
“Jesus” he says “That’s fucked up, Aldo”
“Well, it’s the fuckin truth” ah tell him.
Fur a brief moment we sit back in oor comfy
seats. Enjoyin the company as what we are. Two auld
generational mates. Nae naggin burds tae contaminate
the unspoken bond we share, either. Although he does
enjoy the company ae his missus, eh?
“Dougie, Aldo, what are you two dain here?”
it’s Sally, eh? a plump lassie wae a surprisin fizzy
personality. Her dress code resembles suttin yae wid
find doon Leith docks.
“That useless motherfucker” she announces tae
us. “He left us wae no a pot tae piss in. Ah hud the
choice ae pittin Peter in care or lookin efter him. Easiest
fuckin decision in ma life”
“So, what happened?” ah ask fakin fur the sake
ae fake interest. “Wur the social full?”
Dougie gazes acroass tae me “She means keepin
him wis the easy choice.”
“Really?” ah says. Starin at her aw shocked, n
“Of course, that’s what ah meant. Cheeky
bastard” she cracks.
“That’s, Leanne” She says “Marco’s sister. She’s
goat nae selfrespect that lassie. Shags anyhing.”
“Eh, ah’m here tae see ma mate, Craig
Robertson” ah tell her “He wis broat in earlier.”
Even his fuckin eyes are jist lifeless slits. He’s clearly in
a bad wey.
“What the fuck happened!?” ah roar. 179
Dougie instantly springs up fae his seat. Lookin
absolutely shattered and pathetic “It wis the great
Ah pause fur a second “A great white did this?”
pointin tae Craigy’s unrecognisable puss. “Wis he at
Portabelly beach, or suttin?”.
Dougie explodes “Are you stoned, or what?!” he
screams “No an actual fuckin shark” he says, almost at
a murmur “It wis Mikey Hood”
“The loan shark?” ah ask.
“Fur fuck sake, Aldo. Aye” his teeth grindin
taegether as his temper escalates.
“How dae yae ken that?” ah say.
“Caroline filled me in oan how Craig came intae aw
that money fur the pairty”
“Right, and?” ah growl.
“He’s been passin funny money aboot. And the
daft cunt wis pumpin five grand worth ae notes
through Mikey’s clubs.
“Ah’m gonnae be seein that
bastard, Mikey. Real soon”
“Yae cannae” Dougie says, aw frantically.
“How the fuck no?” ah ask him.
“He said if you goat involved, or the polis. Then
this wid seem like a friendly warnin.”
“Listen, ah’ll square him up wae what Craigy’s
due. If that pits this shit tae bed. And Craigy will pull
through, eh? stronger than ever”
Ah kin feel the relief in his voice “You’re a gid
mate, Aldo” he tells me.
Ah noad in agreement. “Craigy kin dae some
chores fur me. Yince he’s back up oan his feet. What’s
the docaturs sayin?”
Ah’m riddled wae guilt. Hence ma offer tae pey the
five bags tae clear the debt. Still, better tae keep his SOS
call quiet fae Dougie.
ah’ve goat it oan gid authority that he’s in a boozer oot
Granton wey cawed ‘The Highlander’. No jist himself
though. He’s goat his muscle wae him tae. There
should be nae maire violence though. Oan accoont ae
no wantin tae make hings worse fur Craig ah’m gonnae
pey the cunt oaff and jist leave it at that. By the time ah
make ma wey back in the room. Suttin’s evidently
ratteld Dougie’s cage yince maire.
Highlander is a notorious boozer in Edinburgh and it’s
a name that rings oot far and wide. It doesnae take us
long tae arrive there. Largely oan accoont ae the traffic
no bein that bad. Ah git the driver tae park aroond the
corner fae the pub and as soon as ah jump oot the rains
starts hammerin doon. This pub kindae takes me back
tae Saughton, likes. Wae it’s run doon appearance and
steel bars acroass it’s windaes.
Ah slam it doon oan the bar “What’s this?”
Mikey asks puffed up.
“That’s five grand” ah tell him “That’s Craigy
square wae yae, right?”
“Okay” he says, quietly.
“So, we’re gid?” ah ask him.
Tae which he smiles and taps oan the envelope
“The debt’s been peyed, aye. We’re cool”
A chorus ae laughter erupts fae him and his
entourage. And they’re too much in love wae
thumselves tae even notice what ah dae nixt. Ah walk
up tae the front door and begin boltin the place up.
As ah walk up back taewards they’m Mikey’s
still grinnin awey tae himsel. And he jist cannae fuckin
wait tae bait me some maire “Look aroond yae” he
says. Gesturin tae his five goons. “You might be a crazy
fuck, Aldo. But you’re oot gunned here, ah’m afraid”
“Lads!” ah shout. Ma eyes dinnae flicker fae
their direction. The hale place seems tae stand up in
unison. Instantly sendin the bar staff cowerin fur cover.
“Dinnae mind they’m” ah tell him, noaddin
behind me. “They’re only here tae make sure you cunts
until ah came acroass this auld photo ae me and
Craigy. A snap taken before we embarked oan oor first
day there. We looked like a pair ae scared fuckin
rabbits. Ah came acroass the hing while ah wis helpin
the missus tae clear oot the attic.
That wis until ma faither decided tae inject
himself intae the conversation.
“Son” he said, while lowerin his newspaper.
“Jist remember, eh? snitches git stiches.”
“Joe!” ma mum snapped. “Leave the laddie
“Ah’m jist sayin” he tells her “Naeboady likes a
“Well” ma mum quips. “That school is different
fae when you wur there.”
Then a welcomed distraction appeared
ootae naewhere. In the form ae a knock at the front
door. It wis ma saviour, Craigy.
infamous Ainslie Park. A
proper school ae hard knocks. The buildin auld and run
doon. A neglected concrete Victorian memory.
Miss Robertson wandered in. And she wis
accompanied by a young skinny Asian boay who
looked shy and extremely timid.
She then gestured tae the mysterious
south Asian boay.
“I have someone I would like you all to meet.
This is Aldo and his family recently moved to the area.
He’ll be joining the class today and I expect that you
will all make him feel welcome.”
“Listen up” he announced. “Every Friday ah
want a quid fae every yin ae you’s. And dinnae go
runnin tae yur mummy and daddies and start tellin
tales. Or tae that bitch in heat who jist left the room. Cos
ah will find yaise. And believe me. It willnae be poetic.”
Craig chips in “The hardest boay
at the school. Far as ah ken, mate. Is a laddie called
Mark Thompson. Him and his mates deal green, n aw.
But he’s a right horrible bastard.”
“Soonds like a kindred spirit. Ah’ll need tae
meet him tae set up some new hoose rules.”
“Dougie, son” he said. “C’moan oot, mate.
There’s money tae be made.”
“Aldo” ah said quietly. “How did yae git ma
address? Ah ken fur a fact ah never telt yae it.”
“School records never lie, mate” he said, wae a
“He’s ma new mate fae school, mum” ah telt her
“His name’s, Aldo.”
She wis walkin oan water wae his compliments.
He hit aw the markers, likes. Everyhing fae her hair
style. Tae how she could pass as ma sister. He even hud
ma dad eating ootae the palm ae his hand. Laughin at
ma faither’s terrible patter and he even insisted oan
dain the dishes. Jist his wey ae shamin me in front ae
ma folks. And the nixt words oot ae ma dads mooth left
“Ah wish ah hud a son, like you, Aldo” he said.
“Aye, but ah pit the bin oot last night dad” ah
“Aye, the wrong fuckin bin, though.
“Dinnae you go swallowin yur tongue, Markie. Ah’ve
been meanin tae huv a catch up wae yae. Listen, eh?
you work fur me now. A fag gits selt fur fifty pence in
the playgroond? ah want ma cut. Ah’m a reasonable
man. Caw it a hunner per cent. Your reign ae terror
ends theday. And mines hus jist begun. Spread the
Ah realised that
naeboady at the school wid even dare try and mess wae
us ever again wae Aldo by oor side. It wis the first day
ae a friendship that wid stand the test ae time. And that
day wis truly yin tae remember.