Long time visitors will probably have realised that I upload these Rerun suggestions in the order in which we receive them. So here we are with a look back to last year when Leila sent in this piece by fellow Editor and backbone of the site, Hugh Cron.
It’s a little past four on Thanksgiving morning as I write this. It feels like the right situation to tackle Hugh Cron’s Skye Jim McKay and bring the defiant old bastard (Skye Jim, not Hugh) out of the wilderness and into town for a closer inspection.
Mr. Cron has the gift of colorful clarity. He writes economically, but his sentences are neither terse nor lacking information. There’s an odd but relevant theme in this story: Why show concern and kindness to a person who claims to want neither, and is a bit of a rat bastard to boot. The interplay between the MC, Robert (or “Rab”) and Skye Jim is priceless in many areas. But mostly it displays a relationship in which one party must perform more labors than did Hercules just to get a straight answer out of the other party. It’s really quite remarkable in Jim’s cleverly built questions/reproaches and Robert’s skillful way of fending them off and plunging ahead.
Q: In your replies to the original comments you mentioned that you based the character of Jim on a real person. Was he someone you had to deal with in your admirable profession or just another human boulder who once tumbled your way out in the wild?
Q: Do you believe that the welfare state creates people like Skye Jim?
Hi Leila, first off thanks so much for choosing, not just one of my stories but this one. And I don’t want to go down this road again, well I do but I will be here for ever, but as I’ve said, I work on the site whilst listening to music and I can’t believe what is playing on my shuffle! I’ll come to that!
The man is worth a tribute and you highlighting this has given him one.
Q.1 The character was based on someone I had the pleasure of working with. He was the most cantankerous arsehole on the planet but I adored him. He once told me about the fury that was in him and I believed that. He was a lot older than me but there was something in him that I knew if he lost it, I was fucked. (Hah! We all need to know our limitations.) The thing that I regret and hate myself for was I had to get him arrested. Well ‘had’ is a word that is me trying to give myself a get out clause, I should have had the balls to stand by my principles – Weirdly in that job, there were three times that I had principles that effected me. Once was the basis of this story – Which I wasn’t true to myself and a dick. The second time was when I took South Ayrshire Council as far as I could and took their decision up the arse. (Long story – But I swear on the thing I hold most dear – A bottle of Bacardi (Gwen understands it was my first love – What the hell, I’m being honest here – She is its equal!) – They were wrong and no ‘real’ court in the land would have decided against me) and the third time was when I walked out. But I digress.
The guy in question had a run in with another resident at the council run hostel where I worked. I got in between them and managed to calm them down, but because there was a sign of aggression my gaffer called the police. When they turned up she put her jacket on and said that as it was me who dealt with it, I should give the statement. I felt like a cunt and worse when he was taken out in handcuffs. If I had the mind-set that I have now that would never have happened.
This was a man who had opened up to me. The guy told me that he had been raped by his uncle and here was me getting him arrested for him threatening another resident who was being a prick.
I saw him the following day after he had spent the night with the itchy blanket and he apologised to me. I told him that he wasn’t as sorry as I was.
Quickly back to the music. The day he told me about him being raped, by fuck was he pissed. He asked to speak to me in his room and I went in. He asked if everything was confidential and I went through the spiel that I was supposed to. He laughed and said, drinking wasn’t an illegal activity and offered me a can of Tennants (It wasn’t allowed in the hostels) I was telling him that I couldn’t be seeing this when he told me about the rape. How the fuck could I do anything about such a petty rule when this guy was telling me what he did.
He was getting rather upset and he changed the subject to his busking. He asked if I had ever played the mouth organ and I said no. He gave me his and said, think of a song that is simple and just blow it into the mouth organ. I went for ‘Dirty Old Town’ and as I said, he was drinking Tennants. I am writing this listening to the ‘Pogues’ version of that song and drinking Tennants Lager!
The only reason he was in the system was that he had a medical issue. I sort of redeemed myself as I persuaded him to see a doctor, which he did. He said that he wanted a house and a wee dug that he could take a walk. He was allocated a house, near a beach but once he was well again, he walked away. He was always walking away – Pretty text book when you think on it.
I did see him maybe a year later and he still had his rucksack and tent. He told me that he had just been kicked off the bowling green which made me laugh. He thanked me (Which I don’t think I deserved) and told me he was heading for Southern Ireland – He was still running!
Q.2 Not him, he was a generation too old. He was a survivor and did what he could to survive – If that meant using the system, he did. But now-a-days, when we see the hand out wankers who haven’t done a days work and who have been GIVEN (Did you like the use of capitals) their income and have seen their parents and grandparents been GIVEN (I did it again!) their income, these fuckers are all the systems problem. They are part of what they have been allowed to be part of. Tax-payers can moan about them but our Government can’t. In my age group, our problem is we worked. If we had done fuck all since we were sixteen and had a squatter of weans* we would have been fine. But losing work and having no kids means you are fucked.
Cheers Leila – Talking about this guy makes me smile and a little sad. I hope he found somewhere that would make him stop running away.
Weans – That is the Scottish word for children pronounced Waynes as in the plural for the name Wayne.