- Travel and Places»
- Visiting Europe»
- United Kingdom
From CJ Stone's Mixmag column, 1996-1998.
It starts with a whiskey. Well it would do, wouldn't it, this being Glasgow. And not a single whiskey: doubles at half the normal price.
There's me and Kodan and Daniel interlocking arms and saying, "here's to the Celts" and then chucking back these monstrous double-doubles (a Scottish single being an English double) and following these with lager chasers. Whoosh. Like fire in your belly, and then an eruption in your chest, and then a mini nuclear explosion in your brain, a kind of psychic mushroom cloud radiating with a hiss and a splutter through your brain cells. So I'm an honorary Celtic supporter for the night, and an honorary Scot too, being a poet and a revolutionary and a bum and an all-round bull-shitting philosopher like the rest of them. And after two or three or more of these nuclear brain-holocausts (I lose count) well we were just talking gibberish of course. I forget what. Revolutionary clap-trap, no doubt. Or maybe nuclear physics, cookery and transcendental meditation. Or macramé. Or knitting. It didn't matter. Nothing mattered. By this time our brains had mutated into some kind of amoebic slime. They should make whiskey illegal. It's too good.
I was up here for the Castlemilk Writer's Festival. Castlemilk is a huge council estate somewhere in Glasgow. It consists of x thousand people, one shop, one pub and a library. I have no idea why they want to hold a writer's festival here, especially as no one from Castlemilk actually turned up. There were the library staff, and the organisers of the festival, and my friends: Kodan, Danny, Carol-Anne and Woody. And that's it.
I didn't recognise Woody at first. I'd written about him in my book. I'd described him as "the very picture of the furtive pornography addict, with eyes that slopped round like wet oysters behind his thick glasses." Danny told me: "Woody says he's going to nut you one when he sees you." Apparently everyone liked the "wet oysters" description so much they were now calling him "oyster eyes". When I finally did recognise him I was worried. I was waiting for him to nut me one. But he didn't. He said, "oh hi. I didn't recognise you at first. It must be these oyster eyes of mine."
In the end Danny tottered off. I mean: he stumbled off. He was rolling like an ocean liner in a tumbling gale, the sea-sick captain. The Earth itself had turned to liquid. He couldn't even see straight any more. I have no idea what happened to Woody. He probably transmuted into an oyster. And me and Kodan and Carol-Anne - who's been far more intelligent than the rest of us, drinking normal sized drinks at a normal pace - well we were heading off for the clubs. They've got this curfew in Glasgow, so we'd got barely ten minutes to make it indoors before we were nicked. And the bouncer at the first club took exception to Kodan. "You're drunk," he said.
"Of course we're drunk. What do you expect? We've been drinking. Which is why we want to come in here."
"No, sorry. You're not allowed in if you're drunk."
So that was that. The only half-decent club within a five-mile radius, and they wouldn't let us in because Kodan looked drunk. On top of that, we were a motley crew. Me with my Harris Tweed jacket and grey hair, looking like an anthropologist (which is what I am really). Carol-Anne looking like a Librarian. And Kodan with his hip-hop hat with "No Fear" written across the front, and his trousers around his hips showing his boxer shorts, looking like Nothing on Earth. It's no wonder they wouldn't let us in really. I wouldn't have let us in either.
So we jumped into another taxi and headed off for another club, the seconds ticking by, that terrible curfew bearing down on us relentlessly like some dark fate, like a Divine Punishment inflicted upon us by an unmerciful God for the sin, merely, of being in Scotland. I'm not used to this. I'm not used to the idea of having to be somewhere at a certain time, especially when I'm drunk. I mean: what if we didn't make it? What would happen to us then? Would it be like Cinderella at the Ball? Were we all going to turn into pumpkins?
But we made it to the next club anyway, with barely seconds to spare. And Kodan tripped over getting out of the taxi. Carol-Anne and I were about to go in, when the door man said to Kodan, "you can't come in here, you're drunk."
Oh no, not again! Just what was going on here? It made no sense. What else are Friday night's for, if not to get drunk and go to clubs? And anyway, everyone else was drunk, or off their heads on some concoction or another. So what was it about us lot? What did we have to do to gain entry to these places?
Well we did what he had to do. Shamelessly casting our dignity to the wind, we begged, we pleaded, we implored, we beseeched, we entreated.
"Please let us in, please please. Look, he's not really drunk. He tripped falling out of the taxi, that's all. He just looks drunk. He always looks like that. It's genetic. Show him Kodan, walk up and down. There, see, he's dead sober. Tell him Kodan, you're sober aren't you?"
"Yeah man, honest, ah'm s-s-soberrr," said Kodan, straining every fibre not to slur his words.
And under this torrent of disgraceful sycophancy, the bouncer relented. "Oh go on then," he said, waving us in wearily: "anything to shut you up."
It wasn't worth all the bother. It was a handbag club: by which I mean the women all danced around their handbags, and all the men pretended to be handbags so they could look up the women's skirts. And the music was all this chinzy pop stuff, vapid, slushy top-twenty tunes that all sounded the same. Hair-net music. Doily music. Music to put your tea cup on. We had one drink and left.
So that's Glasgae fer ye. Me and Kodan caught a taxi back to his Mom's. As for Carol-Anne, I'm not sure. I think she turned into a pumpkin.