Monday, 12 December 2011

Confessions of a Psycho Cat

I thought this Cramps song was apt.

Since I have told a few Glasgow bus stories recently, and I'm feeling lazy, I thought I would dig out an old bus story to accompany today's post, so here it is.

It was a lovely sunny Saturday afternoon, so I decided to go into the city centre to buy a new pair of sandals. Yes, I know - the World Shoe Mountain currently resides in my spare bedroom, but, well, you never can tell when that rumoured Slingback Shortage is going to occur, so, abiding by that old Girl Guide motto 'Be Prepared', off I trotted. (For the purposes of this tale, it's actually irrelevant that I was thrown out of the Girl Guides due to my reliance on my own personal motto 'Be a Pain in The Arse'.)

So there I was, sitting on the bus, gazing out of the window and listening to my ipod (The Clash if anyone cares). About half way into town, I noticed someone sitting down next to me. When I say 'I noticed' what I actually mean was 'I couldn't help noticing because he sat on my knee and breathed stale beer fumes all over me'. Oh good, that most annoying of Bus Pests, the Glasgow drunk. He apologised profusely. I mostly couldn't hear what he was saying due to the music so I I just smiled and turned away. Then he spoke to me again and I just nodded and smiled and looked out the window. So he tapped me on the shoulder and spoke again. I pointedly took out the earpiece from the ear on the Bus Pest side and said "Sorry?"

"Oh! Are ye listening tae music hen?"


"Whit are ye listening tae?"

"Just a mixture." (My patented method of getting rid of The Bus Pest is be brief, be polite, don't give them too much information, they'll only ask more questions).

"Is it some of that meatrocker music?" (OK, so my patented method needs a little work). "Ah'm an Elvis man maself. Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra... Ah'm no much o' a singer mind." I breathed a sigh of relief - thankful for small mercies - at least I wasn't going to be treated to a rendition of My Way. "Although, I dae a pretty guid Ma Way, if I dae say so maself." I cast about feverishly for a hole of swallow-me-up size, but luckily he decided not to sing.

In one way, I would have loved to have seen him sing. He had apparently recently been to the false Teeth Shop but was obviously in a hurry on teeth shopping day. I knew this because a) he had the most perfect set of top teeth (apart from the fact that they moved independently from his gums) and b) he had 2 yellow bottom teeth (and I don't mean he had two yellow bottom teeth in an otherwise perfect set. I mean he had only 2 bottom teeth, and they were bright yellow). Watching him speak was like watching a badly dubbed Hungarian film. When he finished speaking, his top teeth were still in motion - moving away from his gums, out over his bottom lip and, on a couple of really scary occasions they were sucked back into his mouth and disappeared towards his throat. I was mentally practising the Heimlich manoeuvre.

Instead he held out his hand "Ah'm Big Chick. Pleased tae meet ya hen. And you are?...."

"Donna", I said quietly.

"Did yez hear that?" he announced to the rest of the bus "The lassie's called Donna. Whit time is it Donna?"

"Ten past one."

"Ten past wan? Ten past wan in the MORNIN'?"

", afternoon" What, did he think Glasgow had sneakily moved locations while he was down the pub and was now situated in the land of the midnight sun? At that point, a woman got on the bus and he said to her "Dae ye want ma seat pal?" She shook her head and moved on, despite the pleading look I gave her. Big Chick leaned over to me and whispered (and, when I say 'whispered' what I actually mean is 'boomed loudly') "She's just jealous 'cos ah'm sittin' with you instead o' her." Yes, I should imagine the whole bus was positively emerald green with jealousy at my good fortune by now. At least, those who weren't sniggering with glee at my predicament and increasingly red face.

"Where are ye fae' Donna?"

"Here. I live here."

Again, the announcement of this titillating piece of information to the rest of the bus "Did yez all hear? Donna lives in Glesgae."

Someone up the back of the bus laughed. My Bus Pest turned round, taking his jacket off "Hey youse up the back - haud yer wheesht. Dae yis want tae fight me?" Luckily no one took him up on this. I say luckily because he then turned back to me and said "Ah'm a bouncer." Oh. Really. Since 'Big' Chick was less than 4 feet 6 inches tall and more than 104 years old, I found this a tad difficult to believe.

"Ah'm gettin' aff at the Sandyford." I breathed a sigh of relief. The Sandyford was a pub a couple of stops further up. "Are ye coming in? Ah'll see you right." I didn't know whether he meant for a drink, a fight or a lumber*, but frankly, I didn't want to ask.

"Errr, no, thanks all the same but I have to go into town."

"Okay hen, well you come in and see me on Monday. I'll be in the Sandyford fae' aboot 10 in the morning. It's a great wee boozer. It opens at 8am, so if ye get up and ye feel like a wee drink, ye can just stoat along."

Great. Hold me back.

Big Chick heaved himself out of the seat and walked to the front of the bus, turning round at the front to give me a last beery wave "Bye Donna hen. Ah'll have a wee pie and a pint waitin' fer ye on Monday mornin'."

Mmmmmm, can't wait.

* Lumber - Glasgow slang for a hot date.

And now, your Scottish crime fiction news.

The Picky Girl reviews Catriona McPherson's DANDY GILVER AND THE PROPER TREATMENT OF BLOODSTAINS, Marion Public Library on Alexander McCall Smith's THE FORGOTTEN AFFAIRS OF YOUTH, which is also covered by A reviw of Stuart MacBride's A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE. Actually, I'm not sure if it's a review or an academic dissertation...

Holmes and Watson to star in Some Like It Hot remake? And the Ottowa Citizen talks about the Sherlock Holmes film.

Kate Atkinson's STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG is one of the top crime fiction books for 2011 for the Seattle Times. And the Irish Independent includes Ian Rankin and Val McDermid on its list of stocking thrillers. Doug Johnstone has a rather excellent top 10 list which includes Ray Banks and Helen Fitzgerald, as well as my lovely friend Christa Faust. Nice list, Doug.

Ian Rankin will be at the Oxford Literary Festival in March 2012.

Denise Mina to adapt the Stieg Larsson series into graphic novel format.

And now, back to an essay on social justice and empowerment. Ta-ta, dear Reader.


  1. I'll never tire of hearing your bus stories, our Donna. Keep 'em comin'.

    And I'll be curious to see what Denise comes up with for the Larsson books.

  2. Loved reading this.

    P.S. I also loved Old Dogs.

  3. Michael - it might be the only thing of hers I don't read - not a fan of the Larsson books!

    Jody - thank you so much! I'm very glad you enjoyed both - thanks for letting me know :o)