EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD
The true story of the greatest band you’ve never heard
Chapter 13 – The Shawlands Redemption
If at first you don’t succeed, redefine success. Things could be a lot worse. Okay, we’ve watched enviously as our contemporaries secured record deals, had hits and become moderately wealthy but we weren’t doing too badly, especially after notching up a nifty deal with the local recording studio.
This is The Basement. More Scabby Road than Abbey Road I’ll grant you but while the set up’s not top of the range, it’s a huge upgrade on Sound City.
“There’s ten minutes left on the clock guys, if you want to throw something else down”, said owner/engineer Chris from his sound booth.
We jumped about like puppies in a puddle of pish before proceeding to play a sloppy, shambolic jam.
So, how did we manage to find the cash for such a salubrious set up?
Remarkably, it was all paid for by a money spinning gig on America soil! The tale of how we made it to the land of the free and the home of the brave was one which began in a van. Not exactly Freddie Laker but stick with me. As the mist falls, Jim and I climbed into the back of the van.
“Are you sure this is legal?”, I asked, pulling my tucked legs into my chest.
“Shut up and get in the big case.” replied Gordon
“Until we get paid,” said Billy, “we can only afford to pay for one van plus two passengers.”
A van to America? Pea and Ham fae a chicken?
“Jim, I can still see your feet.”
Jim climbed deeper into the bass drum.
“Better?” mumbled our miniscule but surprisingly limber sticksman.
“I’m the bloody singer. How the fuck did I end up in the back? Whose leg is this? Crawfy?”
From under a pile of bags, Crawfy’s head appeared.
“Not mine. Could be Devon’s.”
Our manager shouted from beneath the guitar cases…
“Not mine. Must be Stevie.”
Stevie remained unseen. We all do the meerkat, searching for our missing guitarist.
Just then, a sound and accompanying smell which instantly brought to mind Louis Armstrong’s lost Hot Diaper sessions reverberated through our tin tomb.
“He’s definitely here.” said Gordon, quickly winding down the window.
“Sorry girls!” replied our own Randy Van Warmer.
So smuggling five guys in the back of a Transit on a ferry wasn’t quite taking Concorde to the streets of New York or the roasty toasty glamour of LA but the Nuclear Naval base in the Holy Loch still counted as a gig in United States territory. Hell, they even paid us, up front AND in dollars! But which set do we go with? Two hours of safe montage-style soft-rock or our own original but more thought-provoking, ear splitting compositions? Read the room boys.
We went with the former and to be honest, we were going down like Buddy and the Big Bopper. The large crowd of service personnel and their partners clearly weren’t taking to the squealings of a Pollok Peter Cetera. Meanwhile at the bar, Devon and Crawfy, were managing to simultaneously throw back shots AND shite their pants.
Just before I got to the fourteenth verse of ‘Hard Habit to Break’, an extremely mean looking African American sailor walked up to me. I might be on a stage but he still towered over me.
“Play some soul.”, he growled.
“Are you deaf white boy?”, he yelled. “Play some goddamned, motherfucking soul!”
I guess that’s the REO Speedwagon medley bollocksed then…
Jim stopped mid-song, hit a hard count out and immediately, we dropped into Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Move on Up’
Dap dap dah dah dah durr durr durr duh babby doo and bababa! That’s me doing the horn section. Trust me, it’s better than it sounds.
By the end of tune, we’d turned a potential international incident into rapturous applause. Our follow up, the Otis version of ‘Satisfaction’ played at breakneck speed, had them eating out of the palm of our hands. One thing regular gigging did was sharpen up our game. You become match fit. And versatile. Which could come in very handy during the post gig warm down at the bar.
“Hey boy!” snarled the intimidating sailor, still on a war footing. “I want a word with you”
Right guys, you know the drill. I say something daft and you guys do the fighting for me…guys??? And like that they were gone. Solid gone.
Intimidating sailor spun my barstool around, brought his huge, shaved cranium up to my face and asked, “What kind of fucked up name is WHITE? You better not be some sort of stupid ass supremacists.”
I thought about chinning the cunt but even though he was about seven foot tall and five foot foot wide, I thought a political scene at this stage of our career was ill-advised. Best save it for lobbing my knighthood at a minor royal a garden party further down the line. Besides, I left it all on stage. I was too knackered to rumble.
“Look at me, man,” I said. “I’m ten stone wet, I have long hair and I wear eyeliner. Do I look like a fucking nazi to you?”
He snarled. Then he laughed.
“Man, I’m just fucking with y’all. You boys were good.” he said, grabbing me. “I’m gonna buy your skinny ass a beer. Have you ever been to Detroit? I know a place you guys would destroy!”
As Curtis himself said, you don’t need no ticket, just thank the Lord! Which was good because I really didn’t want to have to embarrass him in front of his friends.
Back to the Studio, and we’re listening to our handiwork.
“What do you think?”, asked Sound Chris
“I’m happy.” replied Gordon.
“Works for me too” said Billy.
“If you don’t mind,” asked Sound Chris, “what are you planning to do with these recordings?”
Send it off to London like our other demos, I suppose, I said.
“You guys know Brown McMurray?”
Of course we did. After spending much of his considerable inheritance removing Raw Sex Raymond from the prime Glasgow real estate on which stood Sound City studios, this pasty walloper struck gold by managing saccharine soul scudbooks Softly, Softly into the charts.
You must have heard of them. ‘Wishing I was the Fingers Of Your Sweet Goodnight Angel’ was a massive hit. Dubbed ‘The Faifley Fab Four’, they were a band so evil, even beelzebub couldn’t find a storage unit big enough for their unholy souls. That might sound like pure green-eyed, unadulterated jealousy but trust me, it isn’t.
“What about him?” asked Devon.
“He’s putting together an album of songs from various Glasgow bands called ‘Dear Green Place’. You should get some of these songs to him.”
That sounds like a great idea. But there’s one little flaw…
Rewind a few weeks to a Softly, Softly aftershow party. Naturally we showed up as we’d received a tip off that there was free Furstenberg on tap with the outside possibility of cocktail sausages. That’s when I first met Brown McMurray.
“Well, if it isn’t Glasgow’s favourite also rans.” he said. “Please, help yourselves. Enjoy this. You never know when you’re going to be in the presence of greatness again. Wasn’t my band just sensational?”
“I thought they sucked old man balls, to be honest,” I replied, diplomatic as ever.
“At least we’re not begging for gigs at old folks homes, eh Devon?”
Gordon put down his paper plate and asked us, “Give me one reason why I don’t knock his teeth down his fucking throat.”
“Well, for one,” he replied, “I’m a lawyer and I’d sue you for every penny you have. But seeing as you’re as successful as a bald, Korean Billy Idol tribute act, the damages wouldn’t pay for a single hand manicure. Secondly, if you want to get ahead in this town, you need a real manager with real contacts, eh Devon?”
Devon scowled but remained silent. He knew there was more than an atom of truth in McMurray’s jibe.
“And if you do, maybe you’ll stop hanging around cheap whores and be able to pull some real talent. Say hi to Tanya…”
A tall, gorgeous blonde appeared by his side.
“Now, say bye to Tanya. And that’s as close as you guys will ever get to real class. Smell that?
That’s the sweet smell of success, losers. Keep on keeping on, White boys.”, he said, waddling off.
“He is actually a bigger tit than Lloyd Cole.” said Billy.
And that’s saying something.
“I will give £1000 to the first man who gets the lovely Tanya from that little scrote.” said Devon.
“Forget the money,”, replied Gordon. “I would be honoured to take on this mission.”
Jim piped up. “Fuck it, I’m in too. George?”
Be rude not to.
“And I’ll get you photographs”, said Billy, looking over his shades at Tanya walking away. She turned around and smiled.
Something tells me that this won’t be much of a challenge…
Fast forward back to the studio.
“So, you’re fucked then?” asked Sound Chris.
We nodded collectively.
As they say around these parts, never trust a guy who has a surname for a first name. Apart from Crawfy, obviously. He’d just taken ownership of a very impressive, imported Red Ford Falcon. Our chariot to Nico’s awaits.
So, we’re in the pub, got our new demo in our hands and who better to get it working than…
“Myra!”, shouted Devon over the packed bar.
“What the hell do you want?”, she replied.
“Is that any way to greet your nearest and dearest friend?
“I’m still not speaking to you.”, she said, turning her back.
“Why is that, my sweet Myra?”
“Let me cast my mind back.” she said, painting the picture. “Is it because I was left with a three figure bar bill from the Softly Softly after show that I had to foot?”
“I could’ve sworn it was a free bar. But you know the lads. Cocktail sausages make them quite thirsty.”
“Or is it because I went to Houston to cover a gig that you failed to show for? Well, it was not so much a gig as a cheery wee Aryan get together.”
“Or could it be that a certain sluttish member of your extended party caused me to take an unplanned trip to…”, Myra grabs Devon’s lapel and whispers,”…the lady garden clinic?”
Sluttish member of our party? C’mon Myra, narrow it down a bit.
“Myra, Myra, Myra, I can only apologise on behalf of the manky bastard in question and I assure you that once the antibiotics wear off, paid for by myself, we’ll continue to treat you with the loving respect and deference you so thoroughly merit.”
Myra sighed heavily. “What do you want Devon?”
“A little birdie tells me that there is an album being compiled…”
“Forget it”, she said, rubbering Devon again.
“Brown McMurray hates our guts. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Myra. You’re our only hope.” begged Devon.
“Sweet sword of Jesus…”
Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for the right woman at your side, kid.
Back at my flat, I was welcomed home by a singularly heinous whiff. Opening the front door, I found Brido sparked out on the living room sofa bed with Donny in the kitchen, with some vile stew on the brew.
“What in the name of the wee man is that?”, I said, covering my face with my arm.
“Oh, that’s the lettuce.”
“Doesn’t smell like lettuce.”
“It does if you defrost it under the grill.”
He showed me the charred salad.
“Funnily enough, no.”, I replied. “Heading back to Nico’s later. You up for it?
“Maybe after our rehearsal.” said Donny “But guess what?”
Brido stirred. “We’ve got a roadie!”
Hawd the bus! WE don’t even have a fucking roadie.
“Owns a van, loves the music, works for beer.” said Donny. “He used to help on the Pepsi deliveries with Andy.”
“Brilliant.” I said, “What’s the catch?”
“You understand that we are all human animals. Mammalian, in essence.” said Donny, serious as a Kirk cleric.
“Well, this guy is on the periphery.”
“Borderline.” added Brido.
This, I need to see.
Sound of toilet flushing and door opening.
“And right on cue…”
Into the living room waddled a very fat man with a shaved head.
Donny made the introductions.
“He’s called Archie but everyone knows him as Thumbheid.”
“Awright mate?” said Archie Thumbheid, his voice like a pre-pubescent boy inhaling a canister of helium.
I shook his partially dry hand and instantly regretted it.
“Silly question but why are you called Thumbheid?”
“No idea mate”, he said as Brido took his hand, put it close to my face and extended his thumb upwards. Then I got it.
“Geo, have you heard about this compilation album that’s being put together?”, asked Brido
“Yeah,” I replied, “but there’s more chance of me winning Treasure Hunt AND getting into Anneka’s jumpsuit than us getting on that album. You guys should go for it though.”
“I was going to speak to his staff at Sound City about it tonight. I’ll put a good word in for you.”, said Donny.
“For Christ sakes, don’t mention us! He really hates our band. Anyway, I’m hearing you can’t get near him these days for security.”
“That’s true actually.”, said Brido. “One hit and he’s gone all Howard Hughes, power mental. But you guys are such resourceful scamps, I’m sure you’ll think of something.”
“If only I could talk to him. Reason with him”, I said. “I’m sure he’d give us a chance if I could just get him alone.”
“But how are you gonnae manage that?” asked Donny.
That’s when Thumbheid put down his empty crisp poke and said,
“I know where he lives.”
We all turned to him with a collective look which said…
What did you say?
“I know where he lives.” repeated Thumbheid, brushing some rogue Frazzle crumbs from his jumper. “Up near Camphill Avenue in Shawlands. I used to deliver papers to his mum.”
“To the Heid mobile”, exclaimed Donny
A quick jump over the Kingston Bridge and Thumbheid’s van was pulled up outside an upmarket tenement block.
“Up there.”, he said. “The dark blue door is his. Number 22.”
Nice place, I thought.
“What are you waiting for? Go for it!”, said Donny, pushing me out onto the street.
Catching the copy of my demo he threw at me, I walked up the well maintained staircase to the porch and rang the bell. Wish me luck guys…
The heavy wooden door opened and there stood Tanya, wearing a very short, silk robe.
“Oh hello!”, she said with a smile.
“Hi Tanya,” I replied, gulping heavily. “Is your man around?”
“Actually no. He’s at the studio with the Softly’s. He won’t be back for…oh at least a couple of hours.”, she said.
Ah. Ok. I replied/ Then just as I was about to turn on my heels and scarper back to my pals in the van, she said…
“Would you like to come in?”
This would be the point in the movie when the hero gallantly resists the femme fatale’s dangerous charms, takes the moral high ground and walks away, just and chaste to the very end.
Don’t judge me.
Much less than a couple of hours later, I was sat on the side of her bed, buttoning up my shirt and putting boots back on. Tanya was in the shower.
“So what did you want to see Brown about?
“It’s about this album he’s compiling. We really need to be on it.”
“I don’t know,” she said. “You did say that Softly Softly were crap. That upset him.”
“I didn’t say that. And I didn’t mean to hurt him…”
But I was quite happy to cuckold him? Shame on me.
“I actually said that they suck old man balls…because they do.”, I whispered.
“Can I ask you something personal, Tanya?”
“Fire away”, she replied emerging from the shower.
I picked up a picture of the two of them.
“You seem a really lovely girl”
“Thank you, I think”
“So why are you with this fucking warhead?”
Tanya took the picture from me and put it back on the bedside table.
“We have an understanding.”
“Do you love him?”, I asked.
“A bit too personal.”
“OK, truth? Every time I’m seen with him in public, he pays me £500. And I get to live here. Unfortunately, his money’s just about gone and the lifestyle that he wants means that he owes a lot of people you shouldn’t owe. If you know what I mean…”
“He really needs Softly Softly to hit it big or he’s in the doggie doo. Do you know how much it cost him to send them to LA to record their album? It’s not cheap running a band.”
Tell me about it.
“Not that it matters much. I’m moving on shortly.”
“Really? Is it the money?”
Tanya moved in close. “Can you keep a secret?”
Of course I fucking can’t!
“Have you ever heard of Microsoft Windows?” she asked.
“The guys who do the ‘two for one’ double glazing?”
“No, computers. I’ve got a job in the States, writing programmes.”
Hawd the bus!
“For the telly?”
“No, for computers.”
“Can you watch programmes on a computer?”, I said, baffled beyond bytes.
Tanya rolled her eyes at me. “Listen…I know it’s short notice but do you know anyone with a van?”
“If I get you a van, can I leave you a copy of the demo?
“I’ve already got one,” she said. “It’s actually quite good.”
“Gordon dropped one in this afternoon.”
The sneaky bastard!
“Oh, and can you give this back to Jim? He left it earlier”, said Tanya, handing me a camera.
“But this looks like Billy’s camera?”
“What was I thinking? Of course it’s Billy’s.”
Just when my mouth couldn’t get any wider, she handed me a belt and said, “Sorry, this belongs to Jim.”
Who’d have thunk it? Seems that the bold Tanya was a bit more than just expensive arm candy. A super shagging, computer boffin, Bond girl who’d been bleeding our nemesis dry before heading to Redmond, USA. Things were starting to look up. But if Mr Gates is reading, here’s one bit of advice: Put all your patents in a very secure box.
I left the apartment soon after and returned to the van, slightly shocked and bemused.
“Well, what did he say?”, asked Brido
“Nothing”, I replied.
“What do you mean, nothing?”, asked Donny
Sheepishly, I admitted, “He wasn’t there.”
There was an awkward pause.
“You shagged that big Tanya, didn’t you?”
How very dare you?
“What makes you think that?”, I said defensively.
“Those aren’t your trousers.”
I looked down at my jeans. They were sequinned.
Back at Nico’s that night, the band carried out a post coital inquiry.
“So, who was first?”, I asked.
Jim’s hand went up.
“Dirty wee stop out”, said our guitarist, turning our young drummers acknowledgment into a high five.
“Don’t you agree, ” offered Billy, “that there’s nothing worse than looking down and seeing a split, leaking condom hanging off the end of your cock?”
We all nodded in agreement.
“Especially when you weren’t wearing one to begin with”, added Gordon.
“So,” said Devon, “all we need is for the track to be included on the album and pressed then we’ll go for the bastard?”
Just then, Myra arrived.
“What news from Rome, Cleopatra?” asked Gordon.
“Well centurion, my source tells me that a certain manager received a very large grant from the council to get this album together. Half of it went into the back pocket of Softly Softly’s Los Angeles producer and the other half bought a whole lot of strategically purchased Softly Softly records. He bought them a hit record but he’s been selling places on the album to interested parties ever since. £1000 a track.”
“I admire his brio”, said Devon, impressed.
“So, where does that leave us?”, asked Billy.
“Well, when I approached the very elusive Mr McMurray with this info, he said that he’d make you a deal. A track, of his choosing, on the album for £500.”
“He can get fucked.” said Billy
The rest of us concurred.
“I thought you might say that,” said Myra, “so I told him that if he didn’t put a track of yours on the album, free of charge, I’d tell the papers. And the council. And the fraud squad.”
“So?”, asked Jim, eyes like saucers.
“So,” teased Myra, “you’re in! Side two, after Deacon Blue and before Bing Hitler. Launch party on Friday night at Mondo’s.”
“If I didn’t know where your lips had been, I’d kiss you, Myra.”, said Gordon.
Yes! We’re going to be on an album! A real piece of vinyl! OK, it’s only one tune. And it’s hidden away on side two between Dundee’s most bookish rock star and the Joycean rantings of a mad boozebag, but beggars can’t be choosers.
As the celebrations started, I took Myra to one side.
“Don’t want you to break a confidence Myra, but who gave you the info?”
“A good journalist never burns her source”, she tutted. “The bond between a source and a journalist is sacrosanct, a confidence that can never, I mean NEVER be betrayed. I am frankly disappointed in you. If you think for a minute that I would give Tanya up…you’ve got another think coming. I am very thirsty though…”
Good old Myra. Now, haven’t we got a record launch to attend?
Our big night and Mondo’s club was heaving. The great and the good of the Scottish music scene were in attendance and thanks to Myra, so were we.
“Congratulations lads!”, offered the venue owner and our former tubthumper. “So, have you heard it yet?”
“No Mondo,” said Devon, “we’re picking our copies up tonight.”
“Can’t wait to hear this.”, I added, excitedly.
“Did you find out which track they used, Myra?”, asked the Bold Yin.
“Nope.” she replied. “It’s being kept under wraps. But I did hear that advance sales have made it the Number 17 album in Scotland.”
Be still my giddy heart.
“Here comes that slimy prick McMurray now.” said Devon. “Play it cool, boys.
Brown McMurray walked on stage, girning like one of the Shawbridge mad sqaaad on the heavy swedgers.
“Welcome one and all to the launch of ‘Dear Green Place’, a compilation of the best talent, signed and unsigned, currently working in Glasgow with a couple of little surprises thrown in. I’m going to introduce all the tracks individually then take questions afterwards.”
Naturally, I’ve already prepared my speech. I want to thank my Mum, Otis Redding and God, obviously…
McMurray lined up tracks from established bands like Hipsway, The Bluebells and Softly Softly before getting to Deacon Blue. We were up next and at this stage, my arse was making buttons.
Sound Chris arrived and took a free seat at our table. Just then, Tanya appeared, wearing large shades, frantically trying to get Myra’s attention.
“Hey man! How’s things?”
“I’m fine.” replied Sound Chris. “Just a bit surprised which song you chose for the disc, that’s all.”
“Whatcha talkin’ bout Willis?” said Gordon
“I mean, I thought we could have showcased something …well, better actually.”
“I don’t understand…” said Billy, baffled.
I looked towards the bar and spotted Myra talking to Devon. The latter reeled back, open mouthed. Myra looked over towards our table, and shook her head.
What the fu…
McMurray stepped up to the mic and addressed the crowd.
“Next up, it’s track number fourteen and this is from one of Glasgow’s more…interesting bands. I’ll let you be the judge. Here’s White…”
To our horror, the throwaway jam, recorded from the end of Sound Chris’s session, played. Stunned, we scanned the assembled crowd of politicians and media, and bands we considered our contemporaries, all of whom appeared as mortified as we felt.
Sweet Jesus no…
As the crowd started whispering, pointing and laughing towards us, I wished Mondo had a trap door for us to sink through
“Well, wasn’t that fun?”, chuckled McMurray. “Something tells me that we’ll still be talking about this after your fifteen minutes of fame have dissolved. And if you haven’t laughed yourselves out, up next we have the wild west coast’s favourite anarcho comic, Track fifteen, Bing Hitler.”
The suited, bespectacled comedian stood, flipped the audience the bird and leant in.
“For what it’s worth, lads,” he said, taking a swig of my pint, “I quite liked it.”
We sat in shock until the lights went up. Like a dimpled, vulcanised size five Mouldmaster, skelping off one’s exposed flesh, we’d be feeling this sting for quite a while. But as we headed out into a night as cold and unforgiving as those red ash pitches of childhood, the classless choob McMurray, conveniently surrounded by security, decided to stick the boot in again.
“Suck it up boys.”, he roared. “While I’m number 1, in my book, you’ll always be Number 2’s”
For Devon, that was it. The final straw. He snapped and headed straight for McMurray.
“I’m going to fucking kill you.”
“Making threats in front of all of these witnesses?”, said McMurray from behind a couple of heavies. ” Not smart Devon, not smart at all.”
We held our manager back.
“Don’t worry mate.”, I told him. “We’ve got this.”
At that moment, Bing Hitler walked up behind McMurray and without being noticed, emptied a bottle of beer into his coat pocket while whispering a single word in his ear.
Down the line, Bing Hitler will quit the bevvy – and some of the madness – re-evaluate his career and, as the host of the Tonight Show, will become a household name in the States. Seriously. However, as far as that sticky scudbook McMurray was concerned, this meant war!
The next day, we took Thumbheid’s van and Crawfy’s Ford Falcon up to the car park in the sky to discuss strategy.
“Delta Force will hit Shawlands at zero hour while Red Dawn Wolverines start the resistance at Sound City”, I said, wiping HP sauce from Thumbheid’s map.
“When’s zero hour?” asked Gordon.
“Can’t we just say Five O’Clock? A show of hands?”
Lee Marvin doesn’t have to put up with this shite.
“Are we Delta Force?”, asked Donny, already fully camouflaged.
“I voted for A-Team.” said Jim, wearing four of his mother’s gold necklaces.
“What about Broadsword calling Danny Boy, come in Danny Boy?”, offered Billy, unhelpfully.
“I still think Untouchables would be a better code name.” said Brido
“That way George could be Eloquent Mess. Get it?”, said Gordon, singularly refusing to acknowledge the severity of the situation. Thumbheid and Crawfy stood by their vehicles in silent bemusement.
“Right!”, I yelled, slamming my fist on Thumbheid’s bonnet for added effect. “SHUT THE FUCK UP! Donny, Thumbheid, Gordon and I are Delta Force. Billy, Brido and Jim are the Wolverines from Red Dawn. Crawfy and Stevie are Cobra Kai. Reconnaissance. We move at zero hour. Yes, Gordon. Five O’Clock. Let’s roll.”
Outside McMurray’s apartment, Delta Force were ready for action.
“Right, we all know what we’re doing?”
“Get in, get her gear, shite in his hot tub then bolt?”, said Donny
“I don’t think the defecation is necessary.”
“I think it would be a nice touch”, said the Skull, clearly brewing.
Gordon spoke. “Guys, why don’t I go up to the flat…alone…for a final bit of recon?”
“For fuck sake, put it away for five minutes.”, I said, expertly blocking the cock. “We’ve got serious business to attend to. Payback for the album and freedom for Tanya.”
Even our priapic guitarist had to agree with that.
“Right Thumbheid, you know the drill,” said Donny, clutching the drivers shoulders. “If McMurray returns, you give us the signal.”
“Make it loud enough for us to hear, OK?”, I added.
“Aye, aye…I’m no stupid.”
“Gentlemen,” said Gordon. “Shall we?”
We bolted up the stairs of the block like a trio of sexy ninjas. Donny fashioned his fingers into the shape of a gun which, while not fully conversant in the ways of the warrior, I thought was a nice touch.
Tanya opened the door, still wearing shades and we started shifting boxes and suitcases down to the van like a bunch of cowboy boot wearing Ben Johnsons. Meanwhile, the bold Thumbheid kept the edgie, though in truth, his concentration was more on his munchy box than on his given task.
All going to plan thus far…
Just then, a taxi pulled up in front of the van and from it, stepped McMurray, carrying a bag of groceries.
Spotting our nemesis, Thumbheid’s bottle, literally and metaphorically, crashed. From his greasy grip, his half drunk Bru slid from his hands, smashing on the cobbles beneath his feet. Running towards the apartment as fast as his cholesterol filled pins could carry him, the bold Thumbheid screamed out the alarm.
Maybe it’s my memory but I remember what happened next in slow motion. And even if one of McMurray’s neighbours wasn’t blasting out ‘Intermezzo’ from Cavalleria Rusticana from a first floor window, it’s probably best if you just go along with how I recall it…
As the strings swelled (as I said, humour me), McMurray turned, and recognising Thumbheid, he realised something was amiss. He pulled a French stick from his shopping bag and threw it at Thumbheid, hitting him flush on the head just as Thumbheid was about to launch his defence, a ketchup covered tray of chips, back towards him. The prone but accurate Thumbheid scored a direct hit as the remainder of his still warm dinner splattered over McMurray causing the latter to yell out in anguish, reeling as the lukewarm spud and sauce combo seeped through his shirt and onto his skin.
The noise from the street immediately alerted us to the danger beneath. Tanya and Delta Force now realised that an easy escape was not possible. Thumbheid got back to his feet and charged towards McMurray who sidestepped him easily, causing our game but inept getaway man to go head first over a small wall and into a hedge. McMurray looked up at the balcony and saw Tanya. He yelled out again before running up the staircase to his apartment. Meanwhile, at Sound City, the ‘Wolverines’ were ready. Trapping the guard in a revolving door, they cut the security camera feed before making their way upstairs to the studio. They opened their guitar cases to reveal neither a Gibson nor a Fender but a multitude of tools. Under the full glare of the studio lighting, the masked young team dismantled and rewired all of the amplifiers in the studio, priming them to blow when next used. They leave via the fire exit and into Crawfy’s Red Ford Falcon.
Back in Shawlands, Delta Force send the last of the suitcases over the balcony, one of which hits the staggering Thumbheid, knocking him over the hedge again. Meanwhile, at Sound Chris’s studio, Stevie and Devon sit in the control room, nervously clock watching.
Back at McMurray’s apartment, Donny is unbuckling his belt. There is no time mate, I shout. You’re gonnae have to nip it. Donny pulls up his trousers and curses, gutted that he wasn’t able to leave Tanya’s ex a parting gift. As we push past McMurray on his staircase, he lunged for my hair but Tanya intervened. That’s when she removed her shades, revealing a nasty bruise around her eye. She whispered something to McMurray before heading down to the van. Naturally, Gordon saw red and after administering a hefty backhander of his own, we restrained him for McMurray’s safety and his own liberty. Bloody and bruised, McMurray climbed out onto his balcony, calling Tanya’s name over and over again. But as we drove off, the soppy prick decided that what would win fair maiden was one final, futile gesture.
A fucking swan dive from the balcony.
As he hit the pavement with a sickening thud, the van screeched to an abrupt halt.
“Holy fuck! Did you see that?”, I said, mouth as wide as the Clyde.
Gordon looked in the rear view mirror. “I think he might be dead.”
Ever the ghoul, the Skull went out to check.
“He’s not moving”, shouted Donny.
Then, a groan.
“You talentless pieces of shit. You’ll never work in this town again…”
“It’s alright.”, shouted Donny with a smile. “He’s not dead.”
One quick kick in the ribs later, and Donny was back in the van.
We found out later that on top of hitting women, big brave McMurray used to bully Thumbheid, stealing his newspaper money and generally picking on him for not looking like one of the many pop hopefuls that passed his way. But while the chunky roadie might not have won many prizes for his razor sharp intellect or for his asymmetrical looks, it was clear that the guy’s (probably clogged) heart lay in exactly the right place.
Afterwards, Tanya offered Thumbheid a bundle of notes for services rendered which he nobly turned down. She did stand for a bunch of fish suppers though and that kind of offer, we were happy to accept. Back up at the car park in the sky, a Red Ford Falcon followed by a White Suzuki pulled in alongside Thumbheid’s van…
Meanwhile, back at Sound City studios, security had done a full sweep of the premises. Nothing appeared to be untoward. As it was Rag Week, they put it down to a student prank.
Soon after, Softly Softly rocked up and started setting up for rehearsal.
There are times I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who did some messed up things. I want to talk to him: sometimes I would like to slap that unbearably pretty face but mostly I want to try and talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone and this old man is all that’s left. I got to live with that. Maturity? It’s just a bullshit word. So, you go on look at the chart positions sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, when they switched on their equipment and this city lit up, remember…
I didn’t give a shit.
(With apologies to Stephen King)
To be continued.
In case you missed the previous chapters…
Socrates,Tony Bennett and Toblerone
Wendy, Penelope, Felicity and the First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Scheme Scum
Talking with the Taxman about Duran Duran, Monster Munch and the Nitshill Ball Lickers
Bella Bella, Billy Bremner
Going Down in a Blaze of Pale Custard
Freddie, Edwyn and the Unbearable Lightness of a B&Q Wardrobe
Penthouse and Payment
The Gospel According to Robert Powell, Mad Alco and the Seven-fingered Jesus of Garnethill
No Sleep ‘Til Strathaven
Barrowland or Bust
The Wrath of Grapes