“The Hole in the Soul”

By David R, 2nd July 2022

The things I know about myself today are a direct result of embarking on the 12 steps of recovery.
Prior to this I lived a life of self pity, of self seekin, selfishness and co-dependency.
I was never the problem, it was all of you. Aye, even you readin this.

To the outside world, all seemed good wi me. Part of a football casual scene, good job, designer clothes, patter, confidence, family, a mortgage. Sounds good eh, sounds a good life. A life to be grateful for. And whilst I was grateful, it still wasn’t enough. I needed more, like my drug takin, nothin was ever enough. Nothin could be enough to fill this hole in my sole. Deep in the malady!

The designer clothes became less to make way for designer drugs. The goin out to the fitba became less as isolation took over.

I lost the mortgage, lost my family, through my selfishness, self pity. Still wasn’t my fault though. I was so far removed from reality it was insane.

In my head, this TV drama I played out in my daft head, I was a jack the lad, fitba casual wi the world, and all of you at my feet. In reality, I was sittin in a dark room, curtain twitchin, nose twitchin, hopeless case.

It was still all your fault.

My most common answer when i was asked why I had done something, when I had fucked up was “ah don’t know”. It used to frustrate everyone, myself included.

The truth is, I didn’t know. I genuinely didn’t know.

Today, with the gift of the 12 steps I know, and more importantly, accept the character defects I have. I have awareness when these defects come into play these days and can quickly correct this.

That hole in the soul? Today’s thats filled, and stays filled as long as I work my 12 steps. I can notice when I’m tryin to fill that hole with all the wrong things (ooooh matron) and rectify that before I’m back at step 1.

I have an illness, an illness of addiction. It was easy to admit I had an addiction. Accepting it was far, far harder. Took me a while to get to that part. Relapse, courage, willingness and action got me there though.

Ridding the things that I had previously used to fill that void, casual life, designer clothes, constant people pleasing, Co dependent relationships, self seekin, approval from others, I had to let them go.

I had to grieve for them. I remember 4 days after my last relapse, all the crew down in London for the Scotland v England game and me sat at home and the penny dropped.

I went upstairs and cried, that crying ye do that takes yer breath away. It was a release, letting go, grieving.

Acceptance. And knowledge that it was gonna be ok. More than ok.

Recovery isn’t living the mundane life. Recovery is just life in its most beautiful form. Its feelin and showin gratitude. Its bein of use to others without lookin for anything back.

Today I have a beautiful life. Not perfect and problems do turn up. I don’t have bad days, I have wee tricky moments in days but I can cope wi that.

All I do is keep it simple.

Keep on keepin on

Business As Usual.

King Kenny

By Phil Thornton 28 June 2022

Rap has never really adapted to the big stage until recently. The art form is too personal, too intricate and down to Individual skills that projecting this into a live performance for thousands is difficult to achieve. Maybe Public Enemy, NWA and Wu Tang could pull off big shoes because they had the numbers.

Hip hop wasn’t designed to be a stadium stunt and so as rappers got richer, the circus act elements got ever more convoluted.

Glastonbury is primarily a white middle class indie rock playground for posh British kids with no accent to claim as one of their cocooned experience packages.

That it sells out so quickly only underlines the target audience it appeals to: those with a lot of disposable income and time on their hands. They may love Kendrick as much as Macca and Billy, they may know all the words and pull ‘street’ poses as they frug along but they will never truly understand the reality of Kendrick’s position.

And neither do I.

I watched King Kenny at home (my caravan in fact) and was mesmerised by his performance. Rap as ballets not bullets. It was a bold move and obviously had been very well rehearsed and prepared. It takes a lot for a rapper however skilful he or she is to hold the stage but Kendrick did it, not by showboating or jumping all over the place but with a quiet, still dignity.

His team of dancers weren’t a distraction but an enhancement, themselves using their bodies as poetry and a narrative for his ingeniously structured takes of trying to do the right thing but failing and expressing his rage at the forces aligned against the black American community. Those who curtail their advancement and co-opt their success.

The Jesus stuff, I can do without. I don’t think Kendrick is messianic like Kanye. He’s not claiming to be The Son Of God but he is a very naughty boy.

One of his rhymes concluded that there must be a God because who else would design a jellyfish?

This displays an absence of reason and understanding of evolutionary science that most God botherers spout to defend their ‘Creator’

The crown of thorns bleeding down his face and shirt routine was visually stunning but also marked him out as another rapper feeding into the notion that God Will Provide! No, he won’t lad!

This apart, Kendrick took rap as an art form to a new level. Better because it was paired back and not bombastic.

As a rapper he’s halfway between Kanye and Common, better than either of them and certainly superior to other superstars like Jay Z or Drake. He’s up there with Nas and Doom and Rakim for sheer versatility even if he is a bit crossover for some tastes.

Billy Eilish speaks to the millennials in their own language of slogans and cliches. ‘Sir’ Paul McCartney is first and foremost one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. For all his royalist arse licking and establishment pandering, he remains a genuine icon ( literally an icon, made of gold and wood) whereas Kendrick spoke to all of us and delivered his message whilst being all too aware that his adoring Glaston Berry audience had no clue to the context of his lyrics.

That’s the rap game in a nut shell. Get successful and sell out to the man or keep it real and be a poor local hero.

Cha’bang!!

Paul Gallagher with Holywell Street

By Macaroon Bar 16 July 2022

Holywell Street have been catching up with Paul Gallagher the older brother to Liam & Noel. Paul has been giving us his musical opinions, influences and the bands he has worked with as well as his DJ experiences. Perfect for our football, Celtic, terrace scene and counterculture section.

Thanks for chatting to HWS Paul, how’s things with you?

Hi yeah, all good. Just siting in a freezer and avoiding the sunshine amongst other things.

We notice you seem to play a lot of new music, are you always looking at the present these days and looking for new bands?

Yeah, there’s a few reason’s why. In the past five years there has been an influx of amazing music that deserves to be heard and whatever reason the UK radio owners and beyond are obsessed with with ignoring new music and sticking to the old acts. Now, whether that is to do with demographics bullshit or the probability that they – the labels and publishers want another return on the music they have paid for years ago and are quite happy to ignore the new stuff – which they won’t see a return on it? Everything comes down to free money with rich folk. So I will play it!

I believe you had a radio slot with Islington radio? I tuned into Boogaloo radio when you had a slot, it was an education getting to hear bands that had perhaps bypassed me. Do you still do radio?

Yeah. I am on my own thing these days called RADIO SILENCE (because I obviously have nothing to say). It is subscription only or else I couldn’t do it as it’s time consuming delivering a two hour show every week.

How would you describe your musical upbringing and did you influence your younger siblings with that?

We grew up in an Irish house like most of my mates in Manchester. My father was an Irish Country & Western DJ, so the music was all around. And then when you hang out with your mates you hear different sounds and go from there and find your own path.

You are a photographer as well I believe?

Yeah, I think I’m in the most creative part of my life just now. I have no idea how things worked out, but they did. I just follow what I like and yeah, I do a few things to keep alive.

We are aware of your DJing career – it appears you travel to some obscure places, what music do you play?

It has been a bit of a roller-coaster. I am with Liam now and do his pre-shows which differ from playing in a club, so, you have to adaptable whatever you’re at. Thankfully it has been great.

What would you say was the best band you signed when looking back?

I didn’t sign many bands they were mostly publishing within Creation Records but I can name them – Own Lady Owner, Wireless, Super J Lounge

This could be tricky … your favourite five albums of all time are? …

I am not an album guy per se but if I’m pushed …

Odessa – Bee Gees

Universal Hall – The Waterboys

Sound Affects – The Jam

The Specials – The Specials

Pure Comedy – Father John Misty

How much was Irish music played in the family home growing up, would you say it was a big influence on you?

Not as much as contemporary music but it is all around and like everything else, I have mates who still play traditional.

Do you think Man City will retain the league, is there a period of domination for them?

Is this a trick question … of course YES and YES

Apart from the fact City are the best team in England do you miss the old ground and area instead of to the corporate structure?

We all need to move on I suppose. If we were still at Maine Road we wouldn’t have what we have now.

You and the brothers are also Celtic fans do you still make it up to many games. I know you came up in the ’90s even when things were not so great?

Yes. But I am done with all football stadia these days so the last game was Porto in 2021 Champions league final.

You were given a Celtic mug as a kid, did it all start from there?

Yeah, and of course we’re an Irish family also it’s a big thing innit?

What would your most memorable Celtic team?

Any team Jimmy Johnstone played in, I just remember seeing footage of him racing down the wing.

What do you think of Kyogo at Celtic?

Yes, he’s good. Let’s see what he does this season. They have to do it all again second is no good in Glasgow.

Do you and the family get over to visit Ireland as much?

Yeah, my mother has a house there and I get back when I can.

What bands are you listening to just now – do you still try and get to as many gigs to check out new bands?

A variety of genres I listen to. I can’t possibly name just one, two or even 10.

Are there any bands you would like to promote?

There are far too many great acts out there right now to single them all out, but, in the UK in 2022 then … Joe unkown, Holy Youth Movement, Noisy. In the USA it’s even harder but … Jaialai, Nick Leng, Kevin Morby, FJM , National Rateliff, Curtis Harding, Anderson East, Gregory Porter. In Europe … The Liminanas.

Thanks for speaking to us Paul.

No worries.

Snakes, Ladders & Garbage Trucks

Here we go again, the unwanted guest has jumped in the passenger seat. Let’s analyse – paralyse.

Just ignore him, treat him like that old drunken fool who shouts at you in the street. Just think about something else… but this shouting keeps coming the walls go higher.

The unwanted guest is now in the driving seat, your thoughts are on a hamsters wheel. There is a 100 mph garbage truck now being driven round you mind by the unwanted guest.

He’s picking little files from your memory, some of it from two decades ago, most of it is minimal and pointless but anything to make you feel bad about yourself. The file issues are tenfold and the garbage truck is screeching ‘but what if’ and when you try and get the truck to slow down ‘but what if’ springs another pile of garbage at you. The internal lying critic.

Modern Day Plague

Guilt-Fear-Doubt on a hamsters wheel. Let it be, give it space is the only thing to do.

It’s okay again and we’re on a ladder rising to ‘whatever’ with a good and neutral mindset. We must take care of ourselves and keep healthy though to avoid the garbage truck starting his journey. I will be fine, my family will be fine. I’ll get another job if need be. I can use my credit card.

It’s starting again, the cost of living under a greedy hubristic Tory government, it’s on the news it’s already affecting you. Jobs under threat and strikes for better living whilst they push inflation up. Half the adult population on medication. Rising fuel prices, energy companies competing for a better deal for you! Not them, for you. The gas and electricity all comes out the same fuckin pipe but never mind that. And the cyclical starts, we’re falling down the snake …

The unwanted guest is sitting at the bottom in his garbage truck and we fall into the passenger seat and we’re off. Reaching 100 mph … and we are a piece of dog toffee, unloved, useless and it’s all going to go pear shaped. Think of something positive and the garbage trucks wall comes higher and throws more bin bags at us. We always were weak, incoming paranoia. You may as well have weirdo in flashing lights written on your forehead.

Dante’s Inferno

I walk the walk and talk the talk. Been there and I got the t-shirt as well.

You are not on your own.

Friday’s INs and OUTs

Friday 27 May 2022

Left leg in, left leg out! Shake it all about with the Friday IN and OUT!
In conjunction with David Rosling productions.
It won’t be televised; for social media platforms only.

IN:

Stanley Baxter playing the Queen for the first time on British television 2012

Debating the best chippie in Rosyth/Dunfermline area.

That Beautiful Sunday song with changed lyrics.

Big Ange


Bouncing about in the singing section at 52.

Koyogo doing his thang

The marvellous Craig Gallagher

Blasting and singing the SAM song by Irish Brigade

Lisbon Lions anniversary after ’55’ years.

Deciding to wear Nike Omega Flash again.

The sinister emergence of hooligan darts crews.

Twatting anyone who says ‘bants’

Twatting anyone who says ‘nom nom’

Fi Gal an inspirational individual.

The marvellous John Gilmartin

The marvellous Jamie Devine

35 year reunions.

Double dunting berocca twice a day.

Necking a whole box of Go Ahead Bars coz it says so.

Pottering around the garden and twirling yer compost bin.

Pottering around the attic and finding the original copy of the bible.

Lazy spa summer nights and Magnum classics.

Cold Water exposure – beak in reverse

Stevie Gerrard becoming a complete roaster.

Frankfurter’s

Big Boots Big Toots.

Gene Gallagher wearing the Hoops.

Beard Gardens (you only get in with a beard)

Days out not nights out.

Doing a runner from Pizza Hut in Windsor and shouting ‘cheers now’

Arthur Shelby being a Tim

OUT:

The cost of the about the costly Jubi-fucking-lee 2022 £823m!

Thinking yer 10 years younger than everyone!

John Lundstram — Ninja assassin

The cost of living

SEVVIE’s singing ‘we hate Kaffliks’ in the middle of Spain and seen as just a Cirry oan

Teeth suckers in the workplace, not my job attitude ae life!

Saying ‘thingio an that ‘

Normal looking lips.

Fuzzy hair styles in Old Swan.

Man buns, shit clobber.

People telling you ‘so I got them telt’ when they telt them f*ck all!

Hibby Gammon heads

The ‘so a turned around and said’ quote

SEVCO Herrenvolk Hurbis attitude.

Anything by Simply Red or Meatloaf.

Having a ball without a ball in sight.

That ‘build me up buttercup’ song on the radio every half hour.

Nazi hipsters.

Thinking you’re Tony Montana after a few stripes

Hiding from the ‘online’ delivery fella, as you have severe beer-fear.

Hangsxiety

That’s it for this week. Eay yer greens, switch everything off at night. Keep on Keeping on. Mirror, signal, manoeuvre and yer off.
Cheers now.

Come and see the team at HWS Towers, 96 Holywell Street next to Celtic Park, get yersels roond.


Bill Brexit & Bobby Gammon

I’m sick of those browns coming stealing our benefits Bill says to Bob. I’m sick of them scrotes stealing our benefits and them disabled’s!

But I don’t mind having surgery for free on the NHS cos I smoke 20 a day, binge drink every weekend and put three for 100 up my conk whenever the wife lets me out.

“More Gammon and Carling Bill?”

“Right you are Bob”

“Another thing Bill, I’m getting really riled with them lot vandalising and trying to knock over our statues, I’m sick of it. It’s usually them paki lovers.”

“You are so right Bob and if anyone says otherwise they should be threatened and attacked on the spot”

Just because we wave our Union jacks it does not mean we are right-wing.

“Bill, you see all them foreigners coming over and stealing our jobs? If I could work I would be picking that fruit and picking up them spuds night and day myself”

“You are correct Bob, they’ve spoilt it, but listen mate, we are going on us hollibobs soon with our wives. I’m reading Majorca has the best Sunday Roast eatery in the whole of Spain, it’s run by a bloke from Morley in Leeds. He also does proper breakfast’s with proper bacon and British butter and has Carling on draft. I wouldn’t mind moving there myself”.

“Good idea Bill”

“I’m glad they got Brexit done though Bob, it’s been like our Independence Day and we have a blue passport to show for it”

Poppy the Bulldog is sitting foaming at the mouth, this could be down to heavy breathing, distress, agitation or anxiety.

“Give him some Carling Bill“

“Great idea Bob. Looking forward to the Jubilee mate?”

“Yes, my son!”

The Celtic Jersey

By Macaroon 23 May 2022

It looks as if Paul John Dykes might have struck gold with his latest book The Celtic Jersey.

The gallery and stories of the Celtic jerseys of the past is his forth publication following on from …

The Quality Street Gang, Smiler and Hoops Stars & Stripes.

Here at HWS we are nostalgic in all things Celtic from major to minor detail. Myself and Paul were recently discussing which hooped tops went with which player and which years, Being the trainspotter I am, I recently decided to invest in all the remakes of the kits I wore as a kid from around 1980. This is why I’m eager to see PJD’s gallery.

“A match worn jersey from virtually every one of the home and away shirt variations worn by the club over the last 90 years”

Paul John Dykes’ second book named Smiler was a tribute to club legend Neilly Mochan. This was an interesting read as well, being very well presented with a artistic front cover. The research that went into this book recording immense detail on Mochan’s life was one of the best I’ve read on Celtic’s past legends.

I have no doubt The Celtic Jersey will be another piece of good work. A coffee table book basically showing a gallery of the Celtic jersey, what is not to like; it is a keeper.

Pre order from Amazon …

League Cup Final 1982

By Macaroon 21 May 2022

On the 4th December 1982 Celtic win their first League Cup since 1974 against Rangers at Hampden. This trophy always seemed to be a bit of a bogey for us. The only player from that ‘74 win still with us was Danny McGrain.

I always recall Rangers being no threat to Celtic in the early ‘80s. It was Aberdeen and Dundee United that were our challengers for the league. However, Rangers always seem to win this trophy despite coming forth in the premier league on occasion.

So, although we were the reigning League Champions and a far better team, I didn’t know how this would pan out. The weather was appalling, heavy rain on a cold December. The north terrace at Hampden was closed for repairs so the crowd wasn’t capacity, just the two terraces behind the goals and the main stand. The Celtic terracing was uncovered and theirs sheltered in line with their superiority complex with SFA deciding to not cover the Mount Florida end of the ground.

I reminisce to the 1981 and 1982 years when the song “we’ve won the league again fly the flag” was born. This was to the tune of the British Airways advert “we’ll take good care of you”. The Rangers end had their version this day: “we hate the I.R.A. fuck the pope” which was quite a standard reaction for them.

I remember the old Hampden terraces being made of wood and grit which meant if a goal was scored there was like a smoke would go up and on a day of horizontal rain it certainly was not ideal. No way was it a normal warm cup final spectacle.

Into the match and Celtic are very dominant and showing why they are the champions. On the 22 minute mark Charlie Nicholas receives a pass from Davie Provan and he finds the smallest of gaps to squeeze in the opening goal. The Celtic end erupts and stops the Rangers end singing one of their sectarian ditties about the IRA. Nicholas was my hero, the coolest player from that era with a cracking wedge haircut. He was an outstanding talent and on the radar of many English clubs and was promoted as the next Kenny Dalgleish

It was around the 30 minute mark that Murdo McLeod put us two up with a complete thunderbolt. Celtic were cruising and Rangers could not get a grip on the match. They had one shot on goal in the first half.

Just into the second half Jim Bett scored for Rangers with a free-kick that completely caught the Celtic defence out and Pat Bonnar perhaps being out sighted looked stranded.

There was a few shaky moments in the second half, but Celtic were worthy winners with a 2-1 win. The man of the match for us was Davie Provan. He didn’t just set up our two goals his passing and movement throughout the game was immense.

The match https://youtu.be/zkSUfNJyHZ8

Celtic v St Mirren 15th May 1982 League Decider

By Macaroon 15th May 2022

This was perhaps one of my most memorable games growing up watching Celtic. The league title was fought out between Celtic and Aberdeen on the last day of the season, Celtic v St Mirren at Parkhead and Aberdeen v Rangers at Pittodrie.

I was a 12 years-old two-tone fanatic with a crew cut whilst acknowledging a shift in styles from jeans to sta-press and skins to wedge haircuts. One of the things that drew me to the matches at Celtic Park was the sheer volume and noise of the jungle, especially at a big match.

The league title should have been wrapped a couple of weeks before on the 3rd May on a wet Monday bank holiday. This was also against St Mirren in a game in hand, we only manage a 0-0 draw; this was after defeating Hibs 6-0 two days before at Celtic Park.

So, it’s up to Tannadice on Saturday the 8th May to play Dundee United and we require a draw to win the championship. United back then were also a very good outfit under Jim McLean and they had been up the top of the table challenging in the much of early ‘80s.

We come a cropper in this match losing 3-0 and it’s all about questioning the minerals of Celtic for the last game of the season .

The 15th May 1982 is very vivid in my memory every time Celtic win the championship I can’t help but reminisce back to it. Me and my guardian for the day Stevie Burns arrive at the Janefield Street and I get the obligatory lift over the turnstiles, I still managed this but I know I’m growing in size.

The noise is immense, the soldiers song is in full flow as we walk through the middle of the jungle. The music on the tannoy is either chart music or the Celtic song by Glen Daly. The other tannoy favourite at the time is Wild Rover and after the first line of the chorus there is a chant of “God Bless the Pope” from most of the terracing. That was our heritage music at the time. I recall the jungle also chanting “Argentina” this was in support of the Malvinas conflict; the reaction from the police was a picture to behold, wanting to react but couldn’t.

The game was very tense much like the 0-0 draw the week before where St Mirren fielding a young Frank McAvennie and dug in and parked their badger bus. Celtic had a good season but were missing both Charlie Nicholas and Frank McGarvey through injury. The main chance in the first-half was a ball about to fall to Murdo McLeod from a cross but young Danny Crainie put his head to it when he should have left it for McLeod.

So, half-time arrives and the tension is increasing. Obviously the old Rangers had their flip-flops on at Pittodrie and it’s Aberdeen 4 Rangers 0.

Coincidentally, the scenario is, if Celtic get beat and Aberdeen beat Rangers by four goals then we lose the title. So it’s job done for Aberdeen.

At 0-0 I didn’t think anyone thought we would lose to St Mirren. It was tense, however, in the 62nd minute Celtic took the lead through George McCluskey with a screamer to the top corner showing our intent. All through the match I was sitting at the top of the exit for number 8 in the jungle. Each time Celtic attacked a group of older men were ready to grab me; and that’s exactly what happened. This was the first time I had witnessed a goal with such relief and hysteria it took around two minutes for it to all calm down.

The final score 3-0 to Celtic with McCluskey again and Tom McAdam grabbing the other one.

The Celtic boards Tom foolery stating the attendance of 39,699 on this day was an interesting one. Perhaps the rest of crowd got lifted over the turnstile.

An emotional day and summed up by the terraces chanting Johnny Doyle. “We won the league for Doyle.

Down the Old Kent Road

By HWS 10 March 2022

The Bowling Club bar was a place me and John Paul would also hang around in during the midweek days. It became like a hub during those mind-numbing unemployed weeks in the hope just to numb out the mind-boggling melancholy whilst watching horizontal rain rattling off the window. We always had visions of moving abroad to maybe live in the sun and be unemployed there, at least it would be fuckin hot.

Whisky nose McCulloch, Bruce Campbell and Arch Thomson were also regulars in the bar during the week. You could never meet a bigger trio of bitter bullying auld twisters in all your living days. As much as they were cringe-worthy; you could always kick back and observe them and give it lashings of disdain or you could die of laughter or toe-curling. Whisky nose was christened his label due to his big red cricket ball nose as a result of his daily tipples of Bells whisky. He had a real resemblance to Sid James and consistently wore the same black shirt with small silver tassels on the collar, it reminded me of something that Johnny Cash would wear.

Bruce Campbell was an avid supporter of the Rangers. Although he would refer to them as “the fuckin Rangers” which sounded like that angry self-entitlement persona that a lot of their support seems to carry. Bruce’s regular attire was those adidas samba training shoes, snow wash pieces of denim, brown leather jacket with big flaps. Also prominent, was his tight curly hair almost pubic 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. The year 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.

The three amigos were constantly trying to get us barred from the bowling club as we were “not of the correct calibre to own a membership to a respected establishment” This of course made things less boring which was a bit of a bonus in the grand scheme of things.

One dejected wet afternoon during the monotony, myself and John Paul was in the club drawing pictures and crushing beer mats whilst supping on Cola. We decided to sketch a music group consisting of Arch Thomson and his followers. The band was named “The Firemen” in opposition to “The Police” ironically because the video jukebox was playing Walking on the Moon and Arch is miming the words with his comrade Whisky Nose as they are playing dominos.

The cartoon drawings have Arch Thomson on vocals as he did seem to have the loudest aggressive persona, a bit like John Lydon but not in any good or talented way. Whisky nose was strumming the bass guitar giving it pure attitude. We then illustrated Bruce Campbell giving it big bashes on the drums much like he would in an orange walk scenario. An additional character who was quite harmless was auld Dougie. We threw him into the band and sketched him just standing there tapping a tambourine. Auld Dougie’s attire was a dead ringer for that Harry Enfield character’s with the catchphrase “Now I do not believe you wanted to do that, did you?”

Arch Thomson was at the bar ordering his drinks when we hear the rustle of a crisp packet and he’s looking straight over at us all macho whilst shaking a pack of ready salted crisps. Raymond the bartender has a pickled egg on a tablespoon and proceeds to drop it into the packet. Arch then gives the packet another shake and he is still glaring over at us with this “square-go-now-then-ya-cunt” expression”. It reminded me of a western movie but with crisps instead of a gun.

He didn’t seem to like us young dudes enjoying ourselves. Incidentally, this pickled egg and crisps mix was his lunch and it saves him from “going hame for dinner” he would often tell the regulars and “it is a balanced meal I’ll tell ye, and I sometimes add peanuts, full of nutrition”.

As we are drawing and imagining Arch singing in a band we can’t help but laugh like little girls, he then calls over “what’s wrong wi your kippers”? To this day I have no idea what this means. As he is munching on the crisps he gives us the obligatory fantasy threat again: “you lot are no so clever when I see you in Tesco and you go white wi fear!”. This comment has been thrown at us many times. So, once again me and John Paul need to inform him and for the benefit of his audience that “we have never seen you in Tesco” John Paul additionally highlights the famous Socrates quote: “Aye mate, when the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser”.

Predictably, Raymond, the barman rolls over and attempts to defuse any potential tension. He informs us: “I don’t believe in mindless violence gents so can we all keep things civil, the club has a good reputation”. Of course, he only seems to be looking in our direction with his request. This will be due to his fear of Arch and him also being a supporter of the Rangers I would strongly predict. Raymondo always wore a Scotland or a British Lions rugby shirt and this would alternate each day. Today it was the British Lions. His head was always shaved to the bone and it always looked as if he would polish it with some sort of oil making it shine like a pool ball.

Incidentally, Raymond was very impressed with our sketch. It was John Paul’s handy work he did have good talent and had flirted with going to art school in the past.

“That is talented drawing lads,” Raymondo tells us, possibly in a deflection tactic. He was so impressed he asked if he could have the drawing having no idea who the characters were. We obliged, and to this day the picture of a band named The Firemen hangs above the Bar at the Bowling Club; with only JP and myself knowing who the characters are.

Sitting away from the crowd were two great gentlemen. Eric Boland and Professor Yaffle who had no liking for Arch et al. Eric was a really good soul who used to crush your hand after a few beers and tell us: “I’ve just rode into town” this was likely down to his fondness of Western movies. His physique was still solid for being in his sixties and he wore a deerstalker hat at all times. The deerstalker added to his character, I loved it when he tied the ribbons under his chin whilst he tippled his glass of whisky with his pinky hanging out.

I think Eric had a bit of bitterness running through him. As legend has it, he was a famous Rugby Union player who went down to the north of England to play Rugby League where he would earn money for his trade. This was seen as the cardinal sin resulting in cliquey rugby union people disengaging with him. Arch and Whisky Nose seemed to judge him on this decision as well by just jumping on the small town bandwagon.

Eric did not care and would inform us “see that lot at the bar, thir a waste o claes” referring to Arch et al. “Fackin arseholes”. JP and I could certainly relate to this.

Professor Yaffle seemed to be Eric’s right-hand man but he would just sit there and say nothing but laugh with this “nyick nyick nyick” tone. This resulted in us baptising him “Professor Yaffle” in honour of the carved woodpecker from the ‘70s children’s programme Bagpuss. He just so happened to wear those round lensed specs as well like John Lennon

Professor Yaffle’s full name was, “Augustus Barclay Yaffle”, he normally was the brains of the outfit, or so he’d like to think. He was very knowledgeable. However, our bowling club version is quite a complex character who just nods in unison with Eric and us.

Augustus Barclay Yaffle

Eric would tell us stories and give a sideways glance swinging his thumb towards Yaffle for confirmation, “he’ll tell ye” … and the Yaffle would just respond with a smile proceeded by that woodpecker squawk. JP and I would love just sitting there, we had much love for the two men and their mad sense of humour and we related to it; possibly out of boredom but who gives a fuck.

Eric was giving us his daily anecdote which always seemed to have a cowboy twist to them, mimicking a gun as he rode into town.

“I rode into town and dan the Old Kent Road and stopped for caviar and truffles”.

Our table of four was on that infectious laughter, in the moment vibe enhanced by Yaffle’s response. However, Arch Thomson is glaring over holding the invisible wheelbarrow posture.

As the beer and cola flowed Eric folded a beer mat into his mouth and in the name of fun with a London twang gave us a repetitive rant …

Dan the Old Kent Rowd

Dan the Old Kent Rowd

Dan the Old Kent Rowd

This set us all off in infectious hilarity and watching the dead beat response from Arch et al made this even more hilarious to the extreme.

Raymondo the barman was collecting glasses and was also not finding this amusing.

Arch does not seem to relate to this at all and responds by roaring over to us, “IRA bastards!”

Once again slander is in the air. Personal insults and slander – the last bastion of the loser in an argument which was not even an argument. With this bizarre accusation Raymond takes the easy way out asks us to leave the bowling club due to our apparent political views; all confirmed by the jury of Arch Thomson and encouraged by whisky nose McCulloch. By this point none of us can even find the passion to debate anything. We are still in laughter.

As we leave the club and approach the exit, Raymond is feeling a sense of strength and is guiding us out the door like a herd of sheep. Although we are leaving anyway and care-free about the whole situation. We observe Arch et al rubbing their hands with glee. However, Eric gives Raymondo a parting shot …

“Raymond, I see yer hair is getting very wavey at the back!”

“How’s that?” Raymond asks touching the back of his head with a confused look.

Eric let’s rip, “Waving fuckin goodbye!” while giving a parting wave goodbye to the bowling club.