McEwan’s Lager Top (3)

The Bowling Club bar has white decor and a wine colour carpet, along with a trophy cabinet and pictures of teams from bygone years. It is very classy to look at; unlike the little gammon clique sitting in the corner. Arch Thomson and “Whisky Nose” Mculloch are like a theme tune to the depression of this miserable Scottish Sunday night, with horizontal rain rattling off the window outside.

The gammons are, however, triumphant whilst tanking their McEwan’s lager and whisky chasers. Being the 25th October 1987, Rangers have defeated Aberdeen on penalties after a 3-3 draw in the league cup final. Normally the four of us at the bar would take umbrage to the songs that were aimed our way, such as “up tae our knees in fenian blood” and “no pope of Rome” not tonight though.

For some unknown reason “Whisky Nose” assumes he has the run of the Bowling Club due to his life-long membership and Arch Thomson (his sidekick and closet bigot) would hand out the threats, they felt equally important. However, all of a sudden, the joke really seems to reverse with how ridiculous they appear, like triumphant in some false sense of superiority

“Billy don’t be a hero” by Paper Lace blared from the jukebox. Billy, don’t be a hero, don’t be a fool with your life.

The barman Raymond, is responding with a “now now gentleman” or the odd shake of the head and smile as if to imply they were young rascals. Incidentally, I am the only Celtic supporter here, the others are basically neutral or side with Hibs – at a push. John Paul is of course a target due to his namesake of the present pontiff.

By some unexpected coincidence, John Paul has a small cake he purchased at the local garage labelled “cinnamon bun”. We all have a wry smile as he places it on the bar. We consider it would be a decent idea to present the gammons with this nice cake. John Paul places it on their table amongst their drinks as if it some kind of award. “A cake if ye want it” he informs them.

Whisky nose replies “cheers Pope John Paul” as they all cackle away in unison with a smokers laugh.

It must have taken about an hour for someone to point out the backhanded joke. “Ahhh so they’re wise cracks eh!” I hear Arch Thomson realising the cake had a double meaning.

Not the expected reference to the “5 Current Huns” nursery rhyme from the 80s, that included such greats as Richard Gough, Ally Dawson and Derek Johnstone and so on …

As predicted he’s approaching us with the macho posturing, resembling the pushing of an invisible wheelbarrow. He must have loved the sound of his clever rhyming ranting threat, “right! one … two … three … four … out the door” as he points at us individually then gives a reverse thumb.

Raymond the barman has stepped in and without a clue to what the issue is, reminds us that “we cannot be disrespectful to senior members of the club”. John Paul is offering Arch outside for a barney!

Arch ultimately accepted the offer of an altercation citing “this is for the honour of the Queen’s 11” before being knocked out with one punch and John Paul without getting a mark on his Pope John Paul II 1982 ‘Bella’ commemorative T-shirt marked.

To be continued …

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