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Issue 9 - December 1972

Collected the empty brown ale glasses and bottle from the tablets and took them back to the bar. He spent most of his time doing it.

"How many Germans did ya kill in the war?"

"Fuck off, ah won a medal in the commandos. Lined the fuckas up against the wall and shot their guts oot." The jukebox was loud and the bar was full, labourers finished for the afternoon and the usual quota of dole wallas. It was a black wet dull Saturday. The bar smelt of sweat and damp dust. Two brickies and their two hod carriers were knocking back a lot of bottles.

"You can't drink the draft, they piss in it, let's have another four bottles, Charlie." He asked who the half pissed Scotsman shouting and waving his fists was. A man standing further along the bar, wearing a black suit and black tie, asks where the crematorium is.

"The beer's not that fucking bad, mista." Hilarious. Everybody laughs except the Scotsman and the man in mourning.

"I don't think that's funny, big boy." He's about forty and addresses himself to the biggest hod carrier, Billy.

"Fuck off, Jock." His eyes are sharp and he has the mean bitter look of a small Scot ashamed of his kilt.

"Di yi wanna mek me, ya overgrown pissheap?"

The bar is quiet except for the jukebox which screams along. These electric situations freeze everybody. The older bricky puts his arm across the chest of the young hod carrier.

"Leave im Billy, he's a nut."

Billy returns the stare of the Scot, his thick fingers curled into a huge fist.

"Piss up ya kilt." He turns away to his mates again and laughs, which relaxes the situation. A hand behind the jukebox switches it up. Jimmy Shand and his band playing a Scots reel, two of the old women link arms and dance, slowly lifting their tired legs, nylons rolled down to the ankle, dirty feet sticking through shoes, toothless grins and feeble "whooops". A smartly dressed young bloke with Brylcreemed black hair plays Prince Charming and links arms with his mother for the reel. A Tom Jones ballad has them singing to each other. She is weeping as she sings her love for him. They embrace and move slowly together, her stained raggy brown coat rubbing against his new made-to-measure Jackson's suit with snow flake shoulders. His suave expression broken as she holds his wrists with her bony fingers and has him transfixed with her wet eyes. Her dry cracked lips roll the words, "you'll always be mine …" The jukebox gets louder. The Scot curses to himself and whoever else will listen.

"That big heap of piss thinks he can fuck me, but I'll stick him like a pig." The frantic bitter Scot throws a glass on the floor and tries to grab Billy again but fails to get near him. The brickies continue drinking, getting more agitated. Cowboy pushes his way through.

"Cowboy, I'll give ya five bob if ya get shot of that twat. He's getting Billy narked."

"Right, Jimmy, I'll shag the fucka for a dolla." Walks away to collect more glasses with his eye on the enemy. The commando chest swelling with purchased indignation. He shoulders his way through the crowds.

"Oot the way, twat."

"Hey Cowboy, you're not in battle now."

"Am Ah not?"

The young blokes continue to take the piss but he rides it. The old woman with the raggy coat and dirty face has the James Bond an emotional putty. Bony hands and tight flesh, wet cheeks and glistening eye for the beautiful son, saturated in brown ale. The old man is a washed-out heap, pissing in the corner, making his own reality, playing dominoes with a crony, a habit older than inherited memories. At the darts board on two well placed feet, controlled breath, the dart weighed, drawn back and held in the fingertips like a swollen nipple. The bullseye a centre to pierce through the alcoholic stupor. The Scotsman wouldn't settle, kept flashing the evil eye to Billy.

"Di yi not want the dolla, Cowboy? That cunt is still working hissel."

He walks across to the Scotsman and hits him with one hard well-swung fist to the face. The legend which immediately follows and circulates the room has it that he was lifted a clear six inches from the ground. Whatever, he's lying on the floor and bleeding profusely. Jimmy puts his handkerchief over the gushing wound. There is a tremendous amount of blood on the floor which is allowed to dry long after closing time. When the bar opens at six again, Cowboy is bearing witness to the tale, which circulates with great glee and enthusiasm. Sympathy is expressed for the Scot and wonder at the previously mythical prowess of Cowboy. Three or four young kids take the piss, which he perceives with great indignation and slags them for their misuse of words. Words he used when they were in their cots, and while their better halves trickled down their mothers' thighs. Secret words, barrowboy words, diddy-guy and gipsy words. Changing spontaneous slang.

"There's the fucking blood on the floor, look. An if ya want, Al tek the whole fucking lot of you on."

"Aw, fuck off Cowboy, you're an old cunt with a spewed brain."

"Look, there's the fuckin blood on the floor."

The barman comes across and sticks a bit of paper on the wall above the young kids. It said: