I had one of those strange conversations which occur from time to time this week. I was sitting on a crowded bus minding my own business when noisy man got on. Noisy man was one of those people who talked at twice the volume required for the context and seemed to want the whole bus to hear every thought passing through his head. Dressed in an ill-fitting tracksuit and dirty white trainers, he glanced around the bus. He looked more annoying than dangerous and confirmed this by saying in a loud voice to no one in particular, ‘Aw day ticket over four quid? Think we’re aw millionaires?’ He then scanned the lower deck looking for a seat. The woman across from me slipped her handbag onto the empty space beside her with practiced ease and without even looking up from her Metro. Alas, noisy man wandered up the aisle and plonked himself beside me. ‘Some weather eh? Aw four seasons in wan day!’ he said to me his breath hinting that a fair amount of tonic wine had been imbibed recently. I tried to keep the conversation at a minimum but he was up for a gab and had that annoying habit of poking you with his elbow when making a point. ‘Here, that Nicola Sturgeon’s a nippy sweetie eh?’ he said, bumping me again, ‘Widnae like tae go hame tae her wi the wages opened.’ He then proceeded to laugh as if he was the funniest man on earth. Of course the rest of the bus smirked away as they could enjoy the show whilst yours truly had to interact with noisy man and they didn’t.
He then started talking about football and at this most of the men on the bus tuned in to hear if his opinions were as off the wall as he sounded. ‘Ye like fitbaw big man? That wiz a liberty what happened tae Rangers eh? Aw they Karflicks laughing like fuck when we wur relegated.’ Like a fool I took the bait and replied, ‘They weren’t relegated they were liquidated and the new club started where all new clubs should; in the bottom league.’ Half the bus smiled a little at this and half had troubled looks on their faces. ‘Wit?’ replied noisy man, ‘You saying Rangers died?’ I was in too deep to back out and replied, ‘The facts don’t lie Buddy.’ The look on his unshaven face changed and he uttered one of those quintessentially Glaswegian sentences, ‘Well fuck me wi the jaggy end o’ a pineapple, we’ve got a real roaster here.’ As I mulled over being called a ‘roaster’ there was an audible snigger from a few on the bus as he continued his diatribe. ’Bet yer a karflick?’ he went on as if that was somehow pertinent to the debate. My silence seemed to antagonise him a little and he muttered, ‘A club canny die!’ as if it were an unwritten truth. ‘Third Lanark died.’ I replied. He was silent for a moment as if confused by my logic, ‘Aye but Rangers wur bought by new guys and the SFA said they wur the same club.’ I was not inclined to go into the convoluted machinations of the SFA as they bent over backwards for the newco so I said simply, ‘If you want to believe that then that’s fine but I don’t.’ Noisy man then looked around the crowded bus, ‘Anybody getting aff coz I canny sit beside this roaster any mer?’ There was more quiet laughter as he looked at me, ‘Nae offence big man but yer aff yer rocker.’ He got up with the air of one who has been insulted and sauntered down the aisle before taking a sharp right turn and heading upstairs. At that point the bus hit a bump in the road and he half fell back into the lower section again much to the amusement of a few of the passengers. As he headed upstairs again I looked out the window happy to have peace restored.
The bus reached the city centre and I got off. As I prepared to continue on foot I heard a banging sound and looking up saw noisy man thumping the upstairs window. I smiled as he shouted out at me, ‘Roaster, yer a fuckin roaster!’ The bus pulled off and I watched him disappear into his alternative reality.
It’s some town old Glasgow.