Kevin Woods 10/3/1967- 15/10/2020, R.I.P.

I couldn’t find my phone, and I asked Mary to ring it. And I’d a message from Laughing Boy, Craig—telling me his older brother, Kevin, was dead. My thoughts were Kevin’s poor old mum, Lynn. But Kevin always kept an eye out for Laughing Boy. And when he hooked up with Carla and her son, Aaron, they were part of the family. When Jack was born, Kevin taught him how to fucking swear. These were the kind of life skills he had to learn, pronto, or even bastarding, fucking pronto, because he was from Dunn Street, starting Dalmuir Primary School soon, and he didn’t want him to get fucking bullied.

Kevin knew about these things being a fully trained juvenile delinquent. If they locked him up on Inchkeith, Edinburgh’s leprosarium, he’d have found a way off the slippery rock.

The 58 000 ton Queen Elizabeth 2 came down the slipway on the Clyde, the glorious year Kevin was born, 1967. The Daily Record cost 4d.  Prisoner was on BBC.  And Hogan’s Heroes was on STV.  They were always escaping from folk in uniforms, mainly Germans, but sometimes stooges and snitches. You’d need to rent a telly from Radio Rental, which made you mental, to watch them and make sure.  

Kevin was adaptable. He’d an on-off fling with Eddie Lynn’s ginger-haired sister in Durban Avenue. Ironically, Kevin moved to a granny flat in Durban Avenue, his dream home, and he’d a grey beard, many a granny would have been proud of.  

He didn’t mind living in Clydebank. His mum was here, his stepdad, Mark, and Laughing Boy. I sometimes forget they’d another brother Dougie (the quiet one) who lived just thorough the Clyde tunnel.

‘Train,’ said Kevin.  

He wasn’t daft. He was always thinking ahead. But as a fresh-faced boy, when he visited his mum in the early hours of a Friday night, he knew she’d ask, and he’d have all the answers to life, the universe and everything ready—as we all do—and was half cut to lubricate his brain,  because she could make a carry on about it. He’d anticipated that too.   

 ‘And taxi,’ he added, because Kirkoswald Drive wasn’t near any train stations. He didn’t have any change in his pockets, but he did have a pair of scissors.  

Three bedrooms. Laughing Boy had his room. Kevin now had a room of his own. He went to bed before the police chapped him up. They might even breathalyse him. They were asking question about a double-decker bus stolen from an Edinburgh garage. Life lessons from The Prisoner and Hogan’s Heroes: never admit anything to men in uniform. A pair of scissors could start the engine in those old buses.  Kevin swore he didn’t ken anything about it. They might have believed him, but that had been the fourth weekend in a row with a bus parked outside with the engine running. Yawn.  He needed to walk a thin line.

Kevin told me about the time he and his pals had climbed along the ledges and dropped in through the skylight of Leith Glass. He wasn’t naming names, but since I’m a snitch, Yogi Hughes that played for Celtic was in the gang. Laughing Boy, because he was youngest, was lookout. Kevin pulled an unlocked drawer in the office, and it held riches, the pay-packets of the workers. The brown enveloped with wages inside went up inside his jacket in the alphabetical order they were arranged. He’d never dressed better, or richer.

His neighbours in the modern balconied tenements they live in were all complaining about not being paid that week, because some bastard had stolen the payroll money.  They’d heard it was an insurance job.  No one was talking.

The pubs at the Haymarket had been serving Laughing Boy since he was twelve (and had hair – he said, but there’s no evidence of follicles) and they collected the insurance. The brothers were veterans. They’d done their time, stuffed into their da’s parked car with a bottle of lemonade and salted crisps, waiting for the British Legion to close. Da came out pissed and drove them home. If they were stopped, he’d work his magic with the Masonic handshake and they’d be back on their way – home.

Kevin spent most of his life in pubs. When he acted as an independent ganger for a scaffolding firm working all over Scotland, Kevin got the money and paid the wages to Dalmuir folk such as Jaz Cunningham that worked for him. Kevin didn’t invent the Clydebank Blitz, but he did like to blitz jobs, with no tea breaks or dinner breaks, finish early and go to the pub.

When he spotted a van that suited me and went up to the auction and bought it, we celebrated by going to the pub. Kev was big on cars. He’d probably want to drive the hearse. And he’d worked with Walker long enough to know that even though he was dead, DVLA probably wouldn’t know about it yet, so, technically, he could still drive. That would be good enough for Kevin.  If he was willing, Walker would be too. Watch closely to see if the driver of the hearse is wearing shades, and check to see if the hearse has Walker’s number plates over the old ones.

Kevin never gave up working, even when he was ill. His oesophagus was held together with medical paper clips, he’d stomach and liver problems. Sssh, whisper it, he liked working, he just wasn’t going to tell the government his business. He liked it even more when Walker, eventually, paid him. That usually involved a bit of argy-bargy. Threats and promises. When Walker never came through with his wages Kev was known to take a car worth thousands being transported for auction to the scrapyard and scrap it for ready cash. Walker could go and fuck himself. That’s the way his life was. Winners and losers.

Kevin, like his brother Laughing Boy, had worked offshore with their stepdad, Mark. Kevin didn’t like being locked up. He liked going to the boozers at night. And sometimes during the day. He didn’t really like staying at home, even though his mum still brought him food and cooked his meals. Sometimes it was with not-so-fast-Eddie, having a few pints in the Mountblow Bar before lockdown. That’s where I last saw him. Sitting at the table joking. Who’d be first to go? Wandering outside for a fag. Both pointed at the other and laughing.

When he was hanging about with George Ramsay (RIP) it was mainly the Drop Inn and nipping to the bookies. Both of them could tell by the spin of the reel in the pub, when it was going to pay out. That was their game theory. Just another fiver or tenner would ensure the jackpot.  I’d seen them getting it. But even young Jack would swear like a fucking trooper when you watched them sticking it back in the machine.

Laughing Boy and Kevin. Kevin and Laughing Boy One diminished without the other. As we all are. Same old, same old, until one goes and one remains. They were a Leith version of The Proclaimers. None of them would walk 500 miles or more to be at your door. Why bother, when you can drive a double-decker? But they’d go that extra mile for you. I ken that. If you knew man or boy, you’d ken it too. Kevin Woods, R.I.P.