I shouldn’t have laughed when I heard Dav Prentice was dead. We were talking about football in the Horse and Barge, but then Brendan took off on a tangent and told me Dav had crashed his car, in some faraway place like America or Canada, with those long straight highways. He thought I knew. You couldn’t imagine Dav getting old like the rest of us. He’d have to had went out with a bang.
Dav had got us all arrested one night by smashing a car showroom window near Milton Cat and Dog Home. We were a crowd of underage drinkers on the main road. The cops mopped us up quite easily. There was nowhere to run. Dav thought that was funny.
He looked like a tabby cat. I don’t mean there was anything wrong with him. He didn’t have pointy ears, or anything, maybe it was his eyes and the way he lazed about the place. His hiccup laugh.
I’d met him through Jim Scott, who went to Clydebank High School and was Dav’s best mate. They lived close to each other, separated by the main road and dual carriageway that ran through Dalmiur West. Jim had thick collar-length blonde hair and was chunky and dressed like the rest of us, in T-shirt and denims. He was a bit of a plodder, and it was Dav, and his daft ideas, that would get him into tight holes.
But when we first met Jim—and by extension—Dav it was because they were hanging about with Wendy the Wanking machine. She was at the same school as them. She was Jim’s bird, which limited our access to the wanking machine.
When my da answered the door, he’d glare at me and say,
‘There’s a wee boy at the door for you.’
My da didn’t like any of my mates coming to the door. To him children should be unseen and unheard. In an aristocratic age, we’d have been formally introduced when I came of age.
‘This is your second son, Dessy. He will not inherit your council property.’
Aye, Dessy would say, I remember him for leaving all the room lights on, using two bars on the fire when none would do, and using the phone at the door as if it’s a piano. We’re no’ made of money, you know.
I saw little point in reminding Dessy, Wendy was female. She could spit like a boy through the gap in her buck teeth. She’d greasy black hair and could run like a boy, play fitba like a boy and fight like a boy, but she’d a fanny.
Dessy wasn’t the only one to make that mistake. After a side-off at Singer’s Park we’d taken to annoying a bearish guy with straggly hair that was sitting with his carry-out bag, drinking Eldorado and cans of lager. He’d waved us across and allowed us to take a drink out of his can as we sat in a circle around him on the short grass. A long checked coat was gathered around him like a blanket even though it was a scorcher of a day. He stunk of cigarettes and booze and crashed a twenty packet of Bensons and Hedges, giving the lads a fag each. Gordy Murdoch and the two golden haired Shirley twins, Sammy and Gordy sat red faced one side of him, Wendy and me the other. When he came to Wendy, we could see him squinting. Fred Perry T-shirt with her wee nips poking out. That set him back a bit. He turned to Gordy, with his mop of curly hair and Roman nose that made him look the oldest—the Shirley twins were boyish, but older—and said to him, with a wave of his hand,
‘Can I ride her?’
The Shirley twins made that clucking noise when they laughed. Wendy shook her head and Gordy laughed. He was the best fighter. ‘No, you cannae,’ he told him, but in a jokey voice.
The drunken guy took a drink of his wine, wiped his mouth and pulled a blade out of his coat pocket.
We were edging backwards, ready to shift faster than Alan Wells. He nodded in the direction of the rhododendron bushes, behind the goal, at the road. ‘I’m gonnae mug some cunt.’
‘Whereabouts?’ Gordy asked.
The pen was beside the Singer’s Club and ran below the railway line and onto Singers Road. He stood up in stages with a can in his hand. Wine bottle empty and at his feet and glared as if he didn’t recognise any of us.
‘I’ll come wae you,’ said Gordy.
The drunk guy offered him a drink of his can.
Wendy’s romance with Jim lasted no longer than a long hand shake in a Mills and Boon’s novel. Dav hooked up with Meta Bell. She was quite pretty with her dark hair, but had a baby before she was sixteen and didn’t finish school. She used to come into the pub I drank in, with her male gay friend. He said she tried to rape him, which made me laugh. Meta and Dav had split up, of course. And when Brendan told me about Dav, Meta had been dead a few years.
Dav was a diehard Rangers' man. After the Celtic and Rangers Scottish Cup final of 1979-80 when there was riot on the pitch we met up. I’d been at the game and still had my scarf on. The Celtic end was uncovered and the terraces crumbling gravel creating a dust cloud in the sun. Fans took in bottles of wine and cans of beer to drink during the game. The carry-oot was part of the ritual of the Old Firm game, as much as was using a fifty pence to enlarge the aluminium hole of a can of lager and pissing into it where you stood. Celtic were underdogs, with our two centre-halfs injured, but George McCluskey had stuck a leg out and a late winner. The ground had erupted, we were up high in the terracing behind the goals, but were flung down several steps as we hugged and bounced against each other.
After the final whistle, but before the Scottish Cup was presented, a Celtic fan jumped the fence and ran onto the pitch. He kicked a ball into the net at the Rangers’ end. They struck up their ‘No Surrender’ anthem, and flooded onto the pitch. A whooshing sound as the fans clashed, bottles and cans arcing overhead. I’d a secret. I’d retreated from the rush of Ranger’s fans and dunted against some poor disabled guy trying to batter them, almost knocking one of own over.
When I met Dav, after coming off the train in Dalmuir, I was drunk and euphoric. ‘We won ya bastard,’ I shouted into his face.
‘Aye,’ he said. ‘But we won the fight.’
‘No you never. We won the fight tae.’
I wasn’t sure who’d won the fight, the media made a big thing about a woman cop riding about on her white charger like King Billy. So I suppose the police won the fight. But I wasn’t for telling him that.
‘No, you never,’ he said.
‘Aye, we did.’
Dav had finished his fag and to stop me from gloating he stuck the dout in my open mouth. I spat into my hand and tried stuff it into his mouth. We rolled about the ground and I can still hear his crazy laugh. I started laughing too. I’m smiling thinking about him. Dav and Meta as a kind of Bonnie and Clyde sailing into the sunset.