Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Gallant Wanderer

December 1979.
Travelling west to Glasgow to watch Scotland take on Belgium at Hampden Park.

It seems as if this trip with dad was a combination of two things.
1. Watch the glorious men in dark blue perform their majestic dance.
2. Collect the money owed from the man in hiding, apparently the juice was running.

Comfortably slouching in the passenger seat of the pillar box red XJ6 clad in jeans and black leather I pretended to be a gangster. Be careful what you wish for because a few years after that trip while living in South Florida I was in the employ of the "Greeks" and I do not mean the college fraternity lads and their paddling rituals but rather the type that promoted the exports of Columbia and Bolivia to the rich of South Beach.

Dad was suited as usual, a hardworking man from the docks of Dundee who rose to high levels as a business man due to an astringent work ethic and perhaps some nefarious dealings to which I was not privy to or would even understand as just a lad at the time.

The two ladies answered the blue wood door, their necks like giraffes stretching out and around inquiring as to who was interrupting their precious slumber.
Father requested the presence of the so called man of the house as it is he that owes a sum of money and today it is to be paid.

I was told to wait in the car but like most inquisitive lads I snuck out to hear what dad was requesting of the ladies.

As I stood behind my Father I was able to see their perplexed look as they began to spin their wordy excuse, I watched as the two ladies presented a tale worthy of a golden statue, all while only offering their long necks behind the blue wood door. I realised later in life that my Father could have easily smashed that door and entered their habitat in search of the debtor if only the lad was not present.
The giraffes finished their repose as to the whereabouts of the offender with the statement-
"He's a gallant wanderer."

He's a gallant wanderer...there it was, the words that stuck with me for years to come never leaving the memory and always bringing images of the giraffe ladies.

My Father retreated from the blue wood door in a volatile state and the giraffes returned to their safe slumber never to be seen again but always remembered...always.

We now drive to a market where the hunted supposedly earns a bit if coin, on the way I keep saying over and over - A GALLANT WANDERER...A GALLANT WANDERER.
What did it mean? I did not understand the words spoken by the cautious longnecks all I knew is that those words had taken over my head and the joy of the weekend and the match had been replaced with the thought of a man on the run whose label was Gallant Wanderer and had nowhere to hide because every where he went he would be pointed at - There goes the gallant wanderer.

Back in those days the culinary simplicity of a good chip shop would usually satiate the needs of young sausage but on this day even the delight of a black pudding supper with two pickled onions could not offer recluse because the words kept playing over and over.

I don't know if my father ever collected the debt or if the debtor was ever found, we did however spend the day in Glasgow and being at Hampden surrounded by your people was an memorable honor.
A concrete and steel castle every little space filled with saltires of blue and white and Lions on the rampage and enough tartan to fill a book about tartans.

Still to this day I think about that trip with my Father and the two giraffes and their glorious words that embedded so deep into my cerebellum at such a young age. I often wonder if seeing my Father in his other business role led me to what I became after we switched continents a few years later.

The memory is usually triggered a few times a year when I imagine the XJ6 and the deep smell of her luxurious seats. The noble and daring giraffes in defense of their breadwinner so cautious yet callous in their lies. The black pudding supper and two pickled onions and how lacking they were for the first time. The utter joy of watching Scotland standing next to your Father in the national stadium while witnessing the glory of 22 men, one ball and a green silky carpet perform what most young Scots lads dream of. And of course the words so elegantly described to label the pursued...a man who may yet still be on the run, who knows the whereabouts of the one they call the...


  1. This post has more plot and character development than a full-length Michael Bay movie. It only lacks a script. Get on it.

    1. If only Mr. Gandolfini was still with us he would play a major role as me paw. I would like to be played by Dolph Lundgren or Jean Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal or och! that's all of them that I can remember...maybee the late great Don Knotts!

  2. There was a certain glamour in debt collecting of auld. Now it's shaven-headed bailiffs and flim-flam letters using half the red ink supplies of China every year for their threatening missives--based on very few legal rights of course, since debt is still a civil issue. As it seemed to be in this case, very civil.

    1. It had its glamourous moments but once in a while you ran into someone more skilled in the pugilistic arts. I have witnessed some dark and not so glamourous times my friend in the collection of another mans coin!

  3. For me, there has never been any real glamour in collecting the dues of other men. Image and a reputation was frowned upon in Drumchapel back in the day. Take it from me, I amassed a Kings ransom not by knocking on doors or making midnight visits, (they came later) On a Friday, I would take my usual place at the bar, facing the door, waiting for those with coinage to come to me. Should the need arise for them to be reminded that Friday was my pay night, then so be it. It was a different world in Glasgow back then, these days a very different set of rules apply.

    I must admit that the easiest place I have ever collected from was the south of England. Some of the toughest talkers in London made a puddle on the floor before I even opened my mouth on occasion. A man can say much more with his eyes than he ever can with his mouth.

  4. Gallant Wanderer. Probably not... just a man who was quite bad at math, and left his women to do battle for him.