The apology was offered in good faith by myself, not for one moment thinking that it would cause even the smallest of slight where my young niece is concerned. How wrong could I be? It would seem that teenage pregnancies are no longer a personal and private affair. Each twinge and pang are to be shared throughout the females of the family. Each of them, their hormone levels racing, find the smallest little thread to unravel over comments that would normally be considered innocuous and innocent. I arrive home, tired, foul of travel, only to find that my wife's goat has eaten my favourite sweater, while the elderly man hired to tidy the grounds and feed the chickens has absconded with my prize Buff Orpington and a wooden lamp table from the vestibule. An anonymous voice informs me he was last spotted, drunk, in a bar in a wee place just outside of Nottingham. My once controllable world has begun to melt as quickly as the polar ice caps in Australia or wherever MI5 have them stashed away these days to save the clearly undead Bin Laden from stealing back his barrels slopping over with American oil.
It has always felt slightly awkward to hear myself use the word 'sorry' ever since I watched Clint asking those roughshod gentleman killers to apologise to his rather charismatic mule. It isn't a word that slips easily from my tongue, I will admit. It was merely an oaken table, a rough cherry ran the borders, its fine lip belied its pedigree that began the unigravida turmoil in regard to my niece. It was the first household item we purchased for our own converted dwelling, an item we stumbled upon whilst browsing the usual antiquities that are to be found at Sunday fairs in Glasgow during the summer rain. How was I to know that it held sentimental value beyond reproach? The clearest memory that springs to mind was how I struggled to get the damn thing home on the bloody train. To me, it was merely a table. To my wife, well, let me just say that it was the first gift that we had chosen together. I had my eye on a rather fetching radiogram in a faux mahogany case, but as is life, women always win.
Mid-life crisis beckons its finger increasingly urgently at me it would seem. One moment I am happily spawning endless rows of children, fulfilling my biological purpose in life, the next I am considering the purchase of a motorcycle in between peeing into a cup in the corridor of a doctors office. I'm not sure who was more embarrassed. The lady with the paper towels or me for surpassing the inimitable 'fill level 'line. It stands to reason, if nature bestowed upon me the equipment of a racehorse, the very least I can expect is to pish like one also. One simply cannot turn off the tap in mid flow. How exactly does one apologise with an open fly and equipment limply to hand? It won't be long now before my pate recedes and the hair chooses to push its way, not from my scalp, but from my ears and protrude from my nose. I worry that bending to tie my shoelaces will allow a cavalcade of wind to escape from my backside increasingly without warning. Where once I browsed Saville Row for its finery of shirts, I now find myself perusing pinstripe suits that flatter my flaccid dead flesh at the ceremony of my wake.
Toy shopping for the grandchildren has suddenly changed. Where once an intergalactic space station, complete with opening doors, realistic laser rays and gamma bomb dispensers would appeal to both man and boy. It now appears to be old hat. I find myself queueing to make an appointment with a rather churlish representative of the Ubuntu company. He, I am informed, will verbigerate constantly about a subject that is alien to me, before being able to decide whether or not I am a suitable candidate to spend eleventy thousand euros on something called an Android Ram Mega Zoid Mk III. Containing an element of non explosive gigabytes, 4G's guaranteed to multi-replicate 60 gazillion pixels in under 0.1 seconds, it also exceeds the ionosphere regulations and has something called automated diacritics, which activate whenever the sun in Mexico is at its highest point. I bet it doesn't have camouflage paint and a realistic siren that shrills whenever the sand people attack. Girouettism aside, my bearded friend is about to experience a sudden onslaught of dysphoria after having my foot placed in the soft crack of his tightly trousered arse if he patronises me again!
I call into an old haunt in the backstreet of my youth. There, time has stood still. It is still very much 1980 to the day. From the long wooden bar with its three bare wooden stools stuck for a lifetime to the worn lino etched with cigarette burns and spilled blood from match day altercations with the auld enemy. The framed photie of Jinky Johnstone, still hanging from the same rusty nail above the broken jukebox. Men sit in cloth caps and worky boots in front of creamy black pints and jars of pickled eggs floating in nauseating cloudy vinegar. No one has ever apologised to each other in here. There has never been the demand for quidnunc remonstrations amongst those who come here merely to drink. No one is remotely interested in a vulva or a Volvo. No flyndrigs or English tourists looking for Marti Pellow or Rob Roy's grave are allowed to enter through the solid glass doors. No women are ever passed via the public bar phone to their menfolk, complaining of ruined dinners, lamp tables or missing chickens. This is a place where urine cups and Ubuntu devices are as foreign as French mustard to its unique clientèle. I like it. They have steak pies on the menu. Nothing else, just steak pies. I think I'll stay for a while before I leave for a wee place just outside of Nottingham.
Glasgow Steak Pie
25g sunflower oil
25g plain flour
500g braising steak, cut into bite size pieces
1 brown onion, finely chopped
3 oxo cubes
8oz button mushrooms, cut into halves
1 pint of boiling water
1 tbsp of Worcester sauce
Make your pastry first. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Toss the meat in the flour to lightly coat and then add the beef to the skillet. Fry it in the oil until evenly brown and then add the onion and the mushrooms. Splash in the Wooster sauce and add salt and pepper to taste. Let it simmer for 30 minutes until nice and tender. Add the stock to boiling water and soak the meat. Again, simmer gently for 30 minutes before covering with the pastry lid and baked in the oven for 25 more minutes. Serve immediately with nothing but a fork and a few friends.