BRI­ANMcCABE

The Herald - Arts - - Arts -

Ye’ve got tae put yer boots un­der the bedlegs in yon place or else they walk. Then ye’ve got a prob­lem on yer hauns in the mornin. Hap­pened to me yin night. It was Christ­mas Eve. Ah was a long way frae hame. Well, no that far but if ye’ve no got the fare it’s far enough. Ah was just a lad­die, up frae the coun­try lookin for work – labourin, any­thin. Had­nae got ony­thin though. Ah did­nae hae any skills. An by this time Ah was stony broke, so Ah had tae­move oot the digs an book masel in­tae this place – a hos­tel it was. Some­body tellt me if ye booked in on Christ­mas Eve, ye get the Christ­mas din­ner next day. That was the only wey Ah’d be get­tin ony turkey, so Ah swal­laes ma pride, buys a half-bot­tle and hides it in the linin aemy coat.

A dump it was – worse than bein inside. There was some rough com­pany in that place. Mibbe be­cause it was Christ­mas the staff turned a blind eye, but there was drinkin and fightin and sin­gin and swearin gawn on aa night. Ah saw twa auld codgers gawn for each ither tooth-an-nail, tryin tae bite each other’s ears aff. Ten meen­its later they’re shakin hands, talkin aboot auld times. It came as a shock, seein it aa. Ah was still that young then – Ah still had in­ten­tions, ken? In the bunk next tae mine there’s this auld yin, a real tramp. Gen­tle­men of the road they used tae cry them. He lights a can­dle while aa the ithers are ker­ryin on, puts it in a saucer by the foot ae his bed an kneels doon an prays. When he’s done, Ah says: “What ye pray­ing for?” “Those less for­tu­nate,” he says. Then he puts the legs ae his bed in his boots. Ah thought he was mad, like. Next mornin, ma boots are away. Ah learnt a les­son that night: never trust any­body.

Ah doubt it was real turkey they gied us, and the Christ­mas pud­din was burnt, but it was a din­ner, ken?

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