I reluctantly left the house, the thoughts prompted by Slabbery’s ever affectionate entreaties giving rise to a murmur of memories of manliness.
But it had to be done.
As I descended the 42 steps (42!!! The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy’s secret of the universe!!!) from my luxury pad, Agnes stood up inside my psyche and muttered…
“She didn’t say all that lovey dovey guff that you thought she did. She telt you to get a bag of porridge and 6 bananas frae Aldi on the way back”
I ignored her; after all she wisnae real. Well, I almost ignored her.
“Bugger aff back tae yer chum Mick” I shouted at her.
Equally non-existent Mick’s face was aghast. He quickly rolled and lit up a gigantic spliff and burst into “Willie Maley wis his name, he brought some…..”
Agnes gave me a quick body swerve and headed off fur a toke or ten!
And so as I headed across the rainswept Hutchy court onto Cumberland place, I turned to wave to Slabbery, her eyes following me longingly, betraying her normally well hidden desire for me to return soon, unspoilt and ready for …zippidy doo dah.
Her lips moved in time to my retreating reluctant steps….our emotional interaction only ending as I stumbled over the kerb, hit my head on the lamppost and once more battered the corner of the kerb into my coccyx!
To her relief, and mine I rose unmarked and uninjured, the collision between me and the lamppost fortunately occurring on my head, thus missing my brain by about 3 feet.
Agnes returned, feckin stocious by now and butted in to my deliberations again…
“…..and what’s more, she didn’t blow you farewell kisses and wish you a speedy and safe return there. She was on the phone and what she said was… “he’s on his way. Don’t let him see youse!” ….ya feckin clown!”
I lost it…..feckin lost it…I never lose it…. especially not with a figment of my imagination.
There I stood on the bouncy bridge leading onto the Green, shouting like a demented Fight Club participant at an invisible, imaginary entity….
“Look ya narcotic non-entity, I need to find out why Thursday’s result was part of a grand plan, what that plan was/is and how it is bringing us all together as a club following the signpost to the end of the road…THE WAN ROAD….engraved with ‘This way to Glory’! Got it now ya jobbie!”
Everyone else on the bridge froze…just staring. Joggers lingered in a mid-air legging leap, offerings to beggars hung suspended above paper cups, and rowers on the Clyde were held in suspended animation as time and tide did indeed wait for one man……to regain sanity!
Agnes jist laughed ….”Ye bit, ye bit, ya dick!” and then ‘poof! she was gone’…leaving just me in the ethereal company of Mick as he lit up another doobie, put his feet up on the psychic couch and sang in his renowned basso profundo “Oh the rangers are shite, oh the rangers are shite….”.
Remembering my mission, I pulled myself together and headed off through Bridgeton.
Normally on that journey I would have taken a bit of flack from the native fauna, but today with my damaged coccyx causing me to stoop ‘Quasi Modo-like’ and my occasional mumbling at immaterial entities, I passed through without any comment.
At first I thought that it may have been sympathy for an obviously wounded soul; but after a few moments contemplation I concluded that, with my gait, one knuckle dragging and unintelligible murmuring, I could have been one of them; thank god the affliction was temporary.
I reached the London Road Polis station, or as I called it, ’precinct 1690’, and as always with uncanny timing the clouds gathered, the sky darkened and Celtic Park took on the shape and shade of a dark forbidding spectre. Undaunted, I continued my quest and with equally impeccable timing a car turned into the stadium surrounds its beams vanquishing the gloom, lighting up the Celtic way, illuminating the redbrick walls and commemorative paving, giving the facade a resplendent fire…..and most of all filling the air with music that drifted from the car’s stereo system through its open windows…
“I can see Paradise by the dashboard lights….” sang Meatloaf
The statues of the Celtic Greats danced, sang and played keepy up with a million memories. Even Brother Walfrid joined in.
…..and Peace returned to my soul.
A shiver interrupted my mind’s meandering and I refocussed on why I was here.
First as a personal objective I had to visit the Superstore.
During the earlier discussion with TSW over the provenance of her mammy’s knickers I had clocked the Celtic label in the long-suffering elastic. Being a season book/card holder of many years I thought “Well if anyone’s deserves a refund…..” and so I popped in to just test the water.
A quick glance around and any hopes I had were shattered.
It was almost as if they were expecting me…..
But it wasn’t really a wasted journey. For there I came across possibly one of the major reasons to our inconsistent form. Were these mannequins modelled on our play this season….or were we actually recruiting from the superstore?
Almost immediately my mind was diverted as through a door briefly opened, a figure cast its trilby hatted shadow on to the wall opposite, and simultaneously at my feet,(I breathed in deeply at this), a small sweetie paper wedged under my sole; it was an immaculately twice folded Werther’s original wrapper!
I turned immediately to confront the owner of sweetie, wrapper and Trilby, expecting to be face to face with a pair of well pressed trousers, shiny shoes, possibly a fitted coat; but he (or she) was gone. I turned back quickly in case he/she/it had sneaked past; but nothing; the shadow – like ‘Bathgate’ – no more; the only evidence of its presence, the neatly creased wrapper.
I kept it in case DNA evidence might be required later.
Laughter suddenly drifted across from the open windows on the floor above the main entrance reception area.
I stuck my head out the door, and with the earlier car’s beams still trained on the frontage, I clocked the fleeting black outline of the trilby behatted, coat-fitted, trouser pressed, shiny shod character stepping quickly into the building.
I speedily followed.
The evidence, three Werther wrappers similarly neatly folded, suggested that ‘it’ had been standing there, waiting on/for me, dangling its line and bait for me to bite.
“Should I follow” I asked myself.
Streetwise the name, suspicious the game, I knew that this would require subtlety, anticipation, guessing the opponents strategy and working out all options.
But all thoughts of reserve were vanquished as the smell of freshly fried chips forced my hand and my taste buds to ‘boldly go’. And so off I trotted through the empty reception and up the stairs.
The racket of singing, guffawing and loud conversation suddenly increased five fold as the door swung open and I was faced by a plus-foured, moustachioed gent with what to my uneducated eye looked like golf driver in his hand.
He smiled in the way that golfers probably do when they are holding in wind as their opponent putts.
“Matt….come in…we’ve been waiting for you…..get Matt some chips” the words directed first at me and then at the grey-haired waiter called Alf known imaginatively it transpired as Auld Alf!
I looked around the room.
They were all there.
AP, DD, GS, JK, PL, IB, MN from the board room and management; but stunningly so were those that I identified by their phraseology, tattoos, disgusting personal habits and not least by the wee ID cards round their necks. KDS, Etims, CQN….and how could I miss the buxom heavily mascaraed chin stubbled delegate from Sentinel Celts – she looked a treat!
There was no sign of ‘Trilby Man’ but my reaction was what you would expect…. “Feck me!”
“Matt will have loads of questions I’m sure” called DD while admiring the shadow of his driver swing in the reflective wall. But first let him have his scran and then we’ll give him the podium.
“It’s ok” I said “I think I’ve got it sussed”!
Alf came up and handed be a carton saying “Jist the way you like them, Matt; vinegar first them the salt so the salt sticks….same way I like them”
I suppose I should have wondered how he knew my culinary likes for eating chips, but instead I whispered to the long serving employee…
”Ah a chip aff the Auld Bloke”
I took a bite then carried on….
“It’s like Sherlock always said, ‘once you’ve eliminated the impossible, whatever is left, no matter how improbable must be the truth’. I think that youse all got together and with a reasonable doubt that we would not beat Bayer L, what we would do was give the bhoys a run out, get Calum and Kyogos legs moving, be adventurous in attack, scramble at the back…and MOST OF ALL …under cover of incompetence, NOT give Aberdeen a clue as to what we will be capable of on Sunday or how we will shape up. Most of all what has transpired gives real evidence of the PLC, Management, Team and fans suddenly acting as one.”
While I let my analytical genius sink in, I took another bite of a chip and then continued.
“This could be indeed the beginning of a new era. BUT ….” I scanned the room; everyone was listening intently. DD smiled….probably was thinking of his opponents missed putt and was just about to continue when in a rising wave, the faces around me started to twist, dizziness engulfed my head, I found it difficult to breathe and my legs became like strictly come dancing on ice.
I staggered as they all stepped threateningly towards me.
I looked across at the chips now lying on the floor beside my head…..they were laughing, the room was laughing, the occupants were laughing….and everything went black….but only for a moment and then there I was…Sharkeys Bar….Intellectual Corner….Staggering towards me was Adam Montgomery, he sat down and called to Caitlin in the kitchen, “Six mince pies and wan o’ yer blessed square sausages hen”
The heads on the drinkers in the packed bar turned and stared.
“Whit are youse all looking at” Adam called to wan an’ all.
“FFS Adam” I whispered “You come in here, a game the morra, can hardly walk properly and order up six mince pies and a ‘blessed square sliced sausage…whit’s that all about?
“Geeza break Matt, it was a silly walk I know but tonight it’s Monty pie-a-thon and the Holy Grill”
TO BE CONTINUED (before tomorrow’s game)
Here’s me a fortnight aff the booze….then I read this…so heading to Bill’s tool store for breakfast😂…
This guy must be NUTS!