Ugly Puggly 21
Ugly Puggly was slicing his way through roof tiles with a long knife, with a sickle hook halfway down the blade.
‘Hi, watch whit yer daeing,’ Grey-blue chips pinged off my leg. ‘Whit you daeing that for anyway?’
‘Too see whit they’re made of. And how easily we can cut through them.’
‘They’re made of concrete stuff,’ I replied. ‘Bit that thing doon before yeh do yersel an injury, or even worse, me.’
He rubbed granular and broken tiles between his fingers and even sniffed them. I turned my head to make sure nobody was watching us.
He plonked the tiling knife on top roof tiles and a ridge, he hadn’t destroyed yet. Turning his head he tilted his head and stared at the back door. My gaze followed his expecting a naked playboy holding his phone, or some other blonde to have made a celebratory appearance behind the peeling green paint.
‘I’m thinkin about sellin up,’ he said.
A laugh escaped through my nose and tried to choke me by turning into a cough. ‘Geez a minute.’ I held my hand up to show I was just taking a breath. I croaked, ‘Yeh’ll no get fuckin much for four or five unmatched roof tiles.’
‘Nah,’ he shrugged. ‘The house, I mean. It’s worth about one-hundred grand.’
I brushed the midges off the top of my balding head. ‘Fuck yeh cannae dae that.’
‘How no?’ he screwed up his face, but with Ugly Puggly, you had to know him well enough to recognise the expression. ‘Wae global warming, when you need to ask if it’s too late. It’s too late!’
‘Don’t worry,’ he reassured me. ‘You’ll still have somewhere to live. Don’t think I havenae seen you sneakin away back to your wife’s.
‘Fuckin midges,’ I cried, batting them away. ‘Och, we just went out for a meal.’
‘Where’d you go?’
‘MacDonalds—she doesnae like goin into pubs, when I’m in them.’
‘Well, I’m no sellin my house and making folk homeless, like you. I mean, the playboy can go hame to his ma. She’s a closet Tory that hates gays, but he’s got to live in the real world sometime.’
He picked up the roofing knife. We ducked our head, and half jogged, back into the sunshine and away from the midges.
‘But I feel sorry for him,’ he said.
‘Fuck sake, he’s must be in a bad way if you feel sorry for him.’
He placed the roofing knife down outside the top railings on the stairs. ‘Aye, but it’s the buroo. They sanctioned him. All that shite they make yeh dae for a pittance. It’s the kinda stuff they used to dae wae soldiers wae shell-shock. Poke at them and prod them and fry their brains, until they were willin tae admit it wasnae that bad at the front. Maybe they could get on their one leg and dae their bit of jigging for Queen and Country.’
‘Look mate, I’m wae yeh. But yer on long term sick. He’s on the buroo and I’m aff on the fly. So I don’t think we should be complaining too much.’ I jumped, Dave was standing in the doorway like a traffic cone with matching bright orange top and shorts, with his pale belly showing.
‘Speak for yersel,’ said Dave. ‘It’s totally ridiculous. They asked me for evidence to show I’d been searching for jobs for 35 hours that week. I told my adviser, I couldnae gie him it because I’d been assaulted, made homeless and my boyfriend went insane—and you know whit he said? “Tough titty”. Then denied he’d said it when I kicked up a fuss. And asked to see his supervisor.’
I scratched at my shoulder blade. ‘When you put it that way, yeh might have a point. But yer boyfriend isnae goin insane. He is insane. And yer shagging everythin. So, I’m no even sure he’s yer boyfriend. It wouldnae have surprised me if yer hand hadnae strayed onto the knee of yer advisor and that’s how he took against yeh.’
‘Hmm,’ he huffed. ‘You’re just jealous.’
‘You might be right,’ I admitted. ‘At my age, yer just glad tae have the odd, indiscrimate, hard on.’
‘The thing is,’ said Ugly Puggly emphatically, ‘when you’ve got a prison mentality, you make others yer prisoner, regardless of whit yeh think of them. Think of that time when they closed Cadogan Street during Covid. The suicide rate for claimants dropped. The government were crying oot for doctors and nurses. Calling for those that retired to go back tae work. Did they redeploy the Cadogan Street mob? Nah, they sat in the house. Daeing fuck all. Did anybody assess them and call them lazy bastards?’
‘I would,’ said Dave, flashing his cheekbones and laughing. ‘If I knew whit yeh were talking about. Or where they lived.’
‘Bearsden, mostly,’ I guessed.
‘It’s quite simple,’ said Ugly Puggly.
Dave and me glanced at each other and rolled our eyes. Whenever Ugly Puggly said it was quite simple, he meant for himself.
‘The most dangerous lie is that we keep producing the wrong kind of children, poor children. If we all produced the right kind of children and they attended public school such as Eton, we’d live in a meritocracy. But we drag them down by not wanting to work. And even when we do work, not working well. And insist on eating shit food and living in shitholes. We’re free, but we choose to be poor.’
I sat down the steps in shade. Dave frowned but seemed to be concentrating on what he said.
‘But if you look at other regimes, such as Communism under Stalin, with the tens of millions of starving children orphaned by war. The bezprizorny were taken away and locked up in public boarding schools. They were taught everyone was equal. Everyone—but foreign capitalists—the same. And they lived in a meritocracy. Anyone that doesn’t believe in meritocracy is suspect. They were recruited into the NKDV. No one needed to teach them how to hate. They already knew how to do that.
‘Who to hate? Who to take aim at? It’s part of the public school ethos in London and Moscow. Whit we need to avoid the prison mentality is a perestroika of the mind.’
‘I like the sound of it,’ I said. ‘But I’ve no got a clue whit yer talkin about. I know them that work in Cadogan are cunts, but that’s their job.
‘I often wonder about that myself,’ said Ugly Puggly. ‘People with that high level of education, taking on jobs like that. But then I remember, every administration has it torturers. And the only way they can succeed it creating an ideology in which they are the good guys. And torture is re-education.’
I waved a finger at Dave. ‘You’d be good at that kinda thing. I could see you in Cadogan Street torturing folk. You’ve got that kind of face. Even yer hair, yev even got Nazi hair.’
‘Fuck aff,’ he said and turned and went into the kitchen, but left the door open.
‘A jobs, a job,’ I called after him. ‘Most folk hate their work—and yer ahead of the game. Most folk already hate yeh.’