The third of January, 2011: Salt Pie Alley, part II

Happy New Year, everybody. Another extract from my novel Salt Pie Alley for you: Danny Gillray waking up with a hangover, New Year’s Day 1972.

If you cared about politics you might wonder: what’s 1972 going to be all about? If you gave a shit about that sort of thing. Will there be an election, or what? Will we have a war? But Danny didn’t care about politics.

You might think, will my luck change this year?, if you needed it to change – or, if you were of that turn of mind, you might wonder: who’ll drop dead in 1972? If you cared about football or rugby it was halfway through the season anyway and if you cared about cricket you’d nowt to worry about for another six months.

Danny woke up with a headache and found himself in 1972 and concluded that all that mattered for fuck-all. He rolled out of bed and muzzily smoothed his sideburns and scratched his jaw and jiggled his balls.

Song in his head: We’ll hunt him down, we’ll hunt him down, we’ll run old Reynard to the ground.

Funny one to wake up with. New year’s day, though – they hunt, then, don’t they? Damn brain’s got a mind of its own. Smashing tune though. He whistled it while he pulled on his jeans and a jumper. Then he went out and tapped on his ma’s bedroom door.

“Mornin ma. Happy new year. Brew?”

She called back: “Happy new year to you son. Aye, a brew would be lovely.”

He shambled down the stairs and into the freezing kitchen and rued his decision to proceed without socks. Kitchen floor like an ice-rink. He switched on the kettle with a shaky hand and opened a cupboard to look for aspirin.

Late one last night. Some good lads playing at the club. All a bit Scotland-for-the-Scottish in the end. Come to expect that though.

God he was almost doubled-over with the shakes. Half from the cold and half from the hangover. He held his hands over the steam from the kettle.

“By,” he said.

The kitchen clock told half-nine. He gulped down some aspirin with a glass of water and prepared two mugs for tea. Through the ceiling he could hear Mrs Gillray getting out of bed.

Poor old bat, he thought. No-one to kiss her on midnight. And no-one to kiss her in the morning. Should’ve invited old Joe Hull home with him: he’d not’ve turned his nose up.

Joe had a few years on his ma though. And of course he’d a face like a pig.

Clutterbuck’s New Year resolution is to be less self-indulgent in future.



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