November 1951 – Whistleberry Crescent, Whitehill, Hamilton
The eyes had it; so often romantically clichéd as ‘the windows to the soul, they also projected the more sinister darkness of an unfeeling amoral heart!
With a powdering of an early ground frost, the black curtain of the sky overhead was dotted with brilliant stars and a silver moon bright enough to cast shadows. The eyes squinted and peered through the glass, cleared by a cloudy breath and the wipe of a glove.
The reflection of his heart bounced off the dark interior behind the wooden-framed window serving only to accentuate a mixture of desperation and lost self-respect. Selfish inhumanity had won out either through the necessity for food and survival, or simply a cold ruthlessness to have what was not his. This time however the fangs of fate readied their bite and venom.
His antennae quivered and tuned in for signs that discovery was imminent, his hearing and innumerable other senses filtering out the sounds of the rats scurrying at the nearby bins. He was comfortable with rats; like him they lived on the unattended or discarded possessions of society; rats were his pals; but no rat in deed or cause ever set in train such a chain reaction simply by the act of laying a muffling sheet across the pane and with one dig from his bent arm, sending the glass into a thousand fragments across the scrub-faded-linoleum kitchen floor.
He waited for the sound of running steps or the panic of desperately opened doors. Nothing!
His information had been spot on; the house was empty at least for the night.
He cast a hooked wire through the broken frame and reached for the key conveniently hung by the string looped around the door knob.
He was in; he waited a moment in the gloom and the silence, his breathing shallow and his pulse on the precipice of silence.
Still nothing; Just the contempt of the disapproving kitchen range, bread bin and hanging utensils! Half an hour and he would be gone, half an hour and no-one would be any wiser of who had been there, who had stripped the place of the meagre display of mementos and personal keepsakes. Half an hour and he could disappear back into the anonymity of the shadows, sell off his plunder, and move on to his next prey. Another random burglary, another unfortunate victim, another statistic. The world would keep turning; a one day wonder for the neighbours and life would go on undisturbed and uncaring.
Misjudgements rarely come so wrong.
Unfamiliar with the neighbourhood, unaware of his anonymous victim; oblivious of the butterfly effect, and ignorant on a scale that would have seen Kyle Lafferty categorised as ‘astute’, that half hour changed world football forever. As the glass had fragmented and spread across the floor it triggered a transformation of an existence of ups, downs and banal into one where the stars would look up in awe, where the fabric of Scottish football was re-woven; where the lives of Celtic Supporters, Rangers fans, ultimately every football follower in the country and wider society in general would experience a seismic shift that would see the scales of justice rebalanced as the hoi polloi’s complacent obesity found more than it’s match.
Jimmy heard about the break-in the following day from a copper standing sentry at the door.
“I’m just waiting on the occupiers returning and then I’ll be off. Just another pointless robbery. We’ll get nowhere as usual and in a few days it will be forgotten, unimportant and pointless.”
“Not if I have my way” thought Jimmy. He wandered over to the big red phone box, picked up the big black handset, and waited for the operator. The operator’s response, delivered in that nasally self important tone of the eternally shelf-ridden frigid spinster informed Jimmy that he had indeed and unsurprisingly got through to ‘the operator!
“Operator here” the disembodied adenoidal bored old-maiden informed Jimmy.
“Get me this number please…….”Jimmy responded.
“Your call is connected. Please insert fourpence and press button A. If there is a problem with the call you can press Button B to return your money. However” she scolded “ If the connection is successful any misuse of button B will trigger an alert to me and the call will be immediately disconnected and button ‘B’ operation disabled!”
“Jobsworths, the lot of youse” thought Jimmy to himself but this was important so he bit his lip and tried to picture the operator in suspenders. The mental image disturbed him so he put in his fourpence!
The faraway ring was answered almost immediately.
“Hello, Jack Goldsborough here…..”
Jimmy finished his call, pressed Button B and for the first time ever he got tuppence back.
“ You can stick yer warning buzzer up yer erse” he laughed “An omen indeed! An omen indeed’
There was new spring in his step.
* * * * * * * * *
December 1951 – Celtic Park Glasgow
Jimmy smiled a little as he knocked on the Chairman’s door. He thought of waiting in deference for a moment or two for the summons to enter, after all the occupant had a multitude of heavy matters on his mind and it was only fair to allow him to come to a natural break before dealing with his proposal.
“Aye that’ll be shining bright” thought Jimmy.
Inside the sanctum the chairman was leaning back in his chair, gently rocking, his eyes almost closed but even in moments of self-contemplation his subconscious kept a watch on the big Abernethy decorated chocolate digestive tin on the desk in front of him.
“Was it big enough?” he kept asking himself as he pondered the numbers who had come through his very own gate at the last home game. For a brief moment he bridled as he recalled the rumour that wee Tommy on the gate was at it and had been taking a skin on the side to allow men and even women to squeeze through on one click of the turnstile.
His cheeks flushed “I’ll put a stop to that soon enough. Dishonesty in the ranks just won’t be tolerated – my God this is Celtic – National service should be compulsory even for sixty year old ne’er do wells like Tommy!” but then his eyes would drift back to the stash of cash in his very own tin and his hard heart would temporarily almost break into a beat.
He hadn’t heard the first or second chap on the door, but he could hardly avoid the sudden breaching of his sanctum as Jimmy Gribben burst into the room.
“What are you doing?” he blustered!
He was at sixes, sevens and nines now as his natural urge was to upbraid the interloper but his survival instincts kicked in and he battered the rarely used lid back on the biscuit tin and hurriedly secreted it back in the hole in the wall behind the statue of ‘Our Lady of the Poor’.
“Sorry sir. I did knock twice and not hearing any voices I was worried in case perhaps you might be poorly”. Jimmy smiled to himself as his eyes followed the trail of disturbed flim flam as the box disappeared back to the protection of the shrine.
“Look Mr Kelly, it won’t cost us much and he will give us good back-up; you never know he might do us a turn if the pitches get any worse. I reckon we can get him for £1500.”
The chairman sat back in his throne and tapped out a tune on his immaculate and unused blotting pad.
“Get him for £1200. Not a penny more. Oh and while yer at it, see all they jam jars we collected from the jungle, they are down at the front door. Take them back tae the shops and get the deposits back; and don’t forget I’ve counted them!”
“I’ll do my best Mr Kelly.”
He stepped out of the office, and just out of earshot he whispered “Sod yer jam jars ya auld skinflint, this is the start of a new era.”
He felt a wee shiver of premonition. He had already agreed with Jack Goldsborough at Llanelli a fee of £1200.
He smiled again as he thought ……..“and all because some eejit had broken into that house, Jock Stein was on his way to Celtic”
“I hope that daft tea-leaf is a died- in-the-wool pavement pirate” Jimmy allowed a sparkle to light up his mind’s eye.
“Unintended consequences indeed!” this time without the question mark! “ Oh how little do they know…..”.
* * * * * *
As the thousand shards of broken glass strafed the kitchen floor, the gods woke up.
Butterflies were sent to flap their wings, dominoes were stood on end, a finger of Zeus, Allah, Jehova or whoever your deity of choice is poised threateningly on the first……. “There’s nothing unintended about these consequences’ he whispered to himself and deliberately cowped over the ‘double six’!
* * * * * *
May 25th 1967 Lisbon
Celtic Champions of Europe.
February 14th 2012
Rangers football club and all its evil
works plunge into administration
Rangers football club melted down,
liquidated, liquidised and
despatched to oblivion never to return.
Their work done for the moment, the Gods took a wee rest!