Friday Blizzard by Don Taylor13 Dec 2017, Posted by Short Fiction in
Weir’s Pumps, that’s where uncle Willie got me a start after I left Adelphi Junior Seccy.; aged fourteen, apprenticed as a fitter. Our tenement looked across the Cart, straight into the works. The foreman and Willie were in the same lodge. Well, that’s the way it worked back then. We stuck together.
Willie was staunch socialist. Strong on equality, the dignity of man, and that. In his twenties he went off to fight the Spanish Fascists. I asked him if he killed any. Naw, he says, they were ayeways ower faur away. I shot a few goats, but. Tasty. But Fascists? Naw.
Then, if he’d had a few wee goldies he’d sing the Internationale, and right there in The Louden public bar, he’d dance, like a gypsy. The ‘Tarantula’ he called it.
When I started I was on ten bob a week, and my maw wanted five for my digs. That left me four and six after I’d paid my subs. Weirs was a closed shop, but Willie would have seen to it that I’d join the union anyway. Like I said, he was solid for his fellow workers.
And mind and gie yer maw yer keep- regular, he said.
Initiation- that’s what they called it when they stuck my head down the lavvy, or stapled the legs of my boilersuit together. And Willie, he had lessons for me too.
After my fortnight’s lying-time I was due my first pay. So me and Willie go along to the pay office at five, and join the queue. The men were joking and slapping my back- me getting my first pay packet. I felt right proud of that wee brown envelop, and the payslip inside looked so important; my name and my national insurance number across the top, and the weight of four half-crowns snug in the bottom.
Between the door and the gate onto Newlands Road it was about a hundred yards. There was a bit of a wind blowing off the river, and although it was September, it looked like there was snow drifting right across the yard. I looked at Willie.
You’ll understand when you’re wed, said Willie. Watch!
And he took out a couple of folded green notes and some change from his pay poke, and slipped them into his jacket pocket.
Then, like dozens of men round about him, he tore the payslip into a hundred pieces and flung them into the breeze. He resealed the envelope and marched towards the gate. I could just make out aunty Margaret standing behind the railings with a crowd of other women, eyes fixed on the advancing squad of men. What the eye doesnae see, the heart willnae grieve over, Willie said, and winked.
I watched the flurries of shredded paper, sweep across the yard.
About the author:
Don Taylor is a retired public servant living in Scotland. His main influences have been short story writers and novelists such as Alice Munro, David Malouf and Kasuo Ishiguro. He has been previously published in New Writing Scotland : Macdougall, Carl and Strachan, Zoe ed. (2012) A Little Touch of Cliff in the Evening, Glasgow, Association for Scottish Literary Studies.
Art: Hanna Weitz, @hannaweitz
In the artist’s words:
I was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1981 but have grown up in the U.S. and England. In the UK, I studied fine art at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design in London. I have recently moved away from figurative oil painting to abstract painting with acrylics. All my images are loosely based on real life objects, however my paintings can be said to present an alternative, layered reality where the original image succumbs to colour, shapes and lines, and the negative space in between. It is quite a childish “paint by numbers” style of painting, where I fill in the accidental shapes that form from drawing without looking down on the canvas or lifting the pen. This notion of chance, or the “happy accident,” is the starting point – it’s then up to me to bring order to this chaos; mapping out a new world. I find inspiration in shapes occurring in the physical world (such as architecture, nature, the body and its organs) and I have a deep fascination with the body deformed. I currently live and work in Nuremberg, Germany.