There’s a lad at work who, by his own admission, mischievously, likes to wind people up. There’s no hidden meaning behind it, but I’d fallen for one of his jibes, taken the bait. A couple of weeks ago, I had mentioned that I was going up to Hearts for the game nearest remembrance Sunday, as I had learnt about Hearts contribution to the first world war, and wanted to show my appreciation, he stated that “How could it be a world war? It was just a white tribal thing”, he’d landed his catch, as I started explaining to him, the historical, geographical details, and that it wasn’t just a ‘white tribal thing’, I saw the glint in his eye.
“No words needed”
With being on nights, my body clock takes adjusting at the weekend, a 4 hour train journey, meant I could get a little more sleep, without worrying about missing my stop. There’s few passengers from New Street on the 6:15 to Edinburgh, after all, most sensible people are still in bed, I’m not sensible. As the train gets closer to Scotland, it tends to get busier with more sensible passengers. I watched a Mother taking her pre school daughter to the toilet, followed shortly after by a noisy kerfuffle emanating from the cubicle, the daughter had finished and was trying to exit whilst her Mother was trying to relieve herself. As they went back past me, the Mom was still rubbing her head, from where her over exhubant offspring had smashed it with the door, trying to get out. I remember that sort of thing as a parent myself, and really don’t miss those days. At Carlisle, a large group of rugby union followers got on, and spent the next five minutes playing non musical seats, as they found the right reservations. I then had to endure the rest of the journey, listening to their opinions, I don’t share, and jargon littered office talk. I have a game I play, where I count the seconds, until golf is mentioned. . . . 856 on this occasion. I received a text from Dingle Dave, he’d fallen foul of the dreaded ‘Man flu’, and consigning himself to bed until it became bored, left him alone, and went in search of another male victim, wasn’t going to be joining me for a beer. It was a relief to get off the train at Haymarket, not because I needed to stretch my legs, but to give my ears a much needed rest.
“Boots swapped for a different set”
Either it’s because it’s heading at a rapid pace towards Christmas, or the shop at Hearts, is just getting better, every time I go up there, more things are added to the range. I could easily fill a shopping trolley now, not the tartan type that old ladies like to bash your ankles with, but one with the obligatory wonky wheel you fight to keep in a straight line, at the budget supermarket. I was going to meet Dave in Platform 5, but gravitated to the Roseburn. Usually, I’m virtually the first in there, nope, more rugby types. A quick pint later, and I was on my way to the Diggers, and a pie. I holed up in the snug, which I hadn’t been in before.
“A young Dave MacKay, top right, a much better player, than manager”
My suspicions of who the reserved table was for, were correct, the family who I’d got talking to on the train back from the St Johnstone game. I remembered 2 out of their 4 names, no mean achievement for me. I joined them, Lex struggling with something he’d caught, but not the thing that had attacked Dave. We chatted Hearts, Brum, remembrance, with a little Blues chucked in. I never met my Grandad, but I was very much aware of a photo taken of him in uniform, somewhere in France, on stand down. It was only when as an adult I felt connection, after reading the descriptive start to Ben Eltons First Casualty, so much so, that I had to put the book down, as my tears were making the pages soggy. Lex, Debbie, Stuart and Charlotte went off to the ground, as I stayed and drank up. When the fanzine phenomenon was at its height, I always used to buy ‘No Idle Talk’ from the now long gone Sports Pages, in London. The writers of ‘Unknown Pleasures’ had decided to do a reprint of their last ever edition, I was able to get one.
“Again, no words needed”
The first real chance, went to Kilmarnock, who completely cut us open, thankfully, a good save kept it to 0:0. We got more in to it, but then seemed to grind to a halt. It was a long 45 minutes. I got a pie at half time, good in terms of the usual English ground fair, but not as good as the Diggers ones. The meat and potato pies I got at Bury, back in the very early nineties, are still the best I’ve had in England. Second half, and Hearts got the upper hand, even had the ball in the net. We then reverted back to performing like we did in the first. Not that Kilmarnock were playing well, or even better than us, but there was an inevitability that they’d score, which they did, no amount of willing it to happen, was going to create an equaliser, and a pretty boring game, signalled my first defeat, watching Hearts. I knew it would happen, I was just expecting it to be against one of the ugly twins of Glasgow, or even the Hoboes.
I went back to the Diggers, it was overflowing. A good number of rugby fans, even in there, to watch the game v Fiji. I have no idea why, but thought it a good idea to move on in search of more personal space. I went to Monty’s, bad move, although a good little bar, it was no less busy. (Looking at what I’ve just written, ‘little’ should’ve given it away) I had the age old time quandary, early for the train, or battle to the Bar in another pub for a quick half. The Haymarket, it was. Just enough time. I have no idea how this happens, but my first class advanced ticket for the return journey, was cheaper than my advanced standard ticket for the journey up. It was an alien feeling making my way through a packed standard class to a virtually empty first class, though I wasn’t able to truly relax until I had had my ticket checked and verified, I was definitely expecting something to be wrong, surely a working class oike wouldn’t be allowed luxury, and I would have to put up with the rugger types again. I don’t know what’s worse, having to put up with the banal alcohol fuelled jargon littered executive ambitious, or the inane estuary English, street slang, chav witterings, either way, my ears can only take so much before they start to bleed.
I could get used to the “free” tea or coffee, and the sheer comfort. I made use of the sheer comfort, and caught up on sleep. I met up with Badge at the bus stop back in Brum, he’d been to Bristol on an ale trail of his own, the talented genius announced that his was just fine tuning his own lyrics to the tune of ‘Combine Harvester’. Forget your Christmas releases, this’ll be one worth looking out for on YouTube.