McEwan’s Lager Top

Bruce Campbell was an avid supporter of the Rangers. Although he would refer to them as “the fuckin Rangers” sounding like that angry self-entitlement persona that a lot of their support seems to carry.

Bruce didn’t live or originate from Glasgow he resided on the east coast. He didn’t go to watch his favourite football team but he would often screech at the TV when they were playing; mostly with venom at who they were playing and wailing his wise tactics such as, “get in there Rainjurzz!”.

He spent most nights at the local bowling club. If he wasn’t wearing the obligatory kit, it would be those Adidas samba training shoes, snow wash pieces of denim, brown leather jacket with big flaps. Also prominent, was his tight curly hair almost pube like, sporting a big brown moustache and silver-rimmed specs.

Lager top was his favourite tipple preferably McEwan’s. He seemed to like that wee bit of froth on his moustache so he could lick it off. This was 1987 and Rangers were sponsored by McEwans Lager. Also on the go was the McEwans Lager advert “you’ve got the power” by the band “Win” this gave Bruce a sense of belonging.

Auld Dougie was another celebrity in the town. He would turn out in the bowling club bar each Saturday with his “tranny” fixed to his ear, shouting out the latest football scores. We could see the scores come up on the TV behind the bar but Dougie liked the self-indulgence of giving out little snippets of information. He always reminded me of that character in Harry Enfield’s show, that self-righteous old twat “only me!” and “you didn’t wanna do that” especially with the tartan flat cap and the light golfing casual attire.

Dougie claimed to be a “right Scottish fitba man” and liked to observe a guid game no matter what team, he didn’t have a favourite. As long as it’s guid for Scottish fitba; a neutral through-and-through.

Through time we would start to observe Dougie’s expressions and mood swings when he was listening to the tranny. Regulars from the bar would shout over asking him what the scores were in each game, this gave him a sense of importance.

Celtic were playing Aberdeen up at Pitoddrie one Saturday afternoon. Dougie had the tranny at the ear with tartan cap hanging over the top.

“Celtic are up against it!” he informs the gathering when Aberdeen were putting pressure on.

His next snippet was, “Rangers are 2 up!” A big roar from Bruce et al and some fist pumping.

“Penalty to Aberdeen!” raised the excitement “that’s 1 nil Aberdeen” auld Dougie addresses the crowd with more joy for the punters.

It must have been about 20 minutes later, we observed on the screen behind the bar Aberdeen 1 Celtic 2, with no turbulence just radio tranny silence. As we glanced over to Dougie he was perched there resembling a trout drowning in a whirlpool. This was not guid for Scottish fitba. Dougie had been rumbled.

Later into the evening Dougie had one too many half-pints of McEwans Lager. Raymond, the barman gave him his wee carry out with some crisps that he had ordered to take home.

Raymond informed him, “I’ve put an extra bag of crisps in the bag for ye Dougie”

“Right ye are son” Dougie responded

So fuckin generous I thought.

Bruce Campbell started escorting auld Dougie to his taxi with his wee bag of beer and crisps, with a wee sway to the side from Dougie the Scottish fitba man. “Oor awe brers” Dougie informs Bruce.

“Aye Dougie we arra people” Bruce assured him.

I suppose Dougie was a harmless old chap, just getting by in life.

Cheap beer was the only reason me and John Paul would visit the bowling club and of course the odd bit of comedy. There was a video jukebox in the club, Bruce was standing at the bar one afternoon when Oliver’s Army by Elvis Costello came on. “Great track from ‘79” Bruce informs us all, “a mix of punk and new wave, Costello was genius, a lyrical genius a tell ye!”

We decided to bear trap Bruce by telling him Costello’s real name and what the lyrics to Oliver’s Army meant.

“His real name happens to Declan McManus an Irish immigrant”, we tell him. The song is a reference to Oliver Cromwell invading Ireland. Also a dig at the fact the working class get hoodwinked into pointless conflicts. McManus was shocked at what he saw when visiting Ireland in the mid-’70s. The track refers to young men getting sent to places like Palestine with the boys from the Mersey and the Thames and the Tyne. It’s an occupational career!

“His names fuckin Elvis ya cunts” Bruce responds in a kind of “you’ll not catch me out” expression. “And anyone disrespecting oor soldiers I’ll take outside one-by-one”

But surely young men were sacrificing their lives for what? Should they have not have been told before these conflicts such as the Falklands, that after this is over, you’ll be going back to your pro-capitalist institutions? Back with yer four to five million unemployed. Nobody won out of the Malvinas conflict, working-class people died for nothing Scottish and English. The working class are the first to get sent into any imperialist conflict, some of them die all for nothing! What did it prove? It proved nothing. If they make it back and avoid PTSD they still own nothing, not a single crumb of the land they were fighting to preserve.

Bruce had that bewildered expression and searched for back-up from his bowling partner Arch Thomson. “Have ye heard this dross Arch?”

Arch Thomson was another one of those closet gammon brains. He was ever claiming to dislike all forms of politics “you’ll never win an argument on politics” was one of his favourite quotes. But much like auld Dougie, his mask would slip. His real issue was anything that came from a left leaning perspective. Bruce and Arch didn’t have much of a counter debate and as predicted would always go for personal attacks, slander or threats. Arch seemed to assume because he was around 15 years older than us he had some kind of superior knowledge. He was also the purveyor of the “I’m not a racist but …” quote. His jet black hair and moustache always reminded me of Burt Reynolds but certainly not in a handsome stylish way.

Arch had been listening to the whole conversation regarding Elvis Costello and the military. He had this short fuse or a capacitor like brain that would implode when he was losing an argument. As he was spilling lager top all over the top of his bowling shoes he ranted, “see awe you lot, ye just rub folk up the wrong way! Yer a bunch of wee wankers, giving it all the gob, but when I see you and yer pals during the week in Tesco, ye go pale white with worry when I walk pass yiz!”

Fuck knows what was going through this cunts head, a fast track from an Elvis Costello fact to offering us out; the old Socrates philosophy springs to mind: when all debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser. Bruce was standing there all smug as if he and Arch had just shattered us in this debate. Me and John Paul have never seen Arch or Bruce in any Tesco so that was a non-starter.

Arch toddled off to the corner of the bowling club whilst shaking his finger as if to imply a kind of one-up-man-ship. This settled the debate that never quite got started regarding Elvis Costello.

Excepting you are powerless when dealing with these gammons paradoxically may give you the power over them. Or, then again, never interfere with a nemesis when they are in the process of destroying themselves.

To be continued …

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