Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My wee corner in the Creggy

A piece of my childhood has just been evaporated from existence as I learn of the closing of the Taychreggan Pub in Dundee.

The Taychreggan was a revamped Victorian mansion turned pub in the 1970's, it was also the local of mum and dad which by default made it my second home.

The memories of this wee spot on the globe still linger in the noggin, many nights and weekends I gladly watched my ma and pa along with their gaggle of mates drown their sorrows at the Creggy apparentyl we were v.i.p.'s because I was always allowed in but had to stay in the corner with my coke - cola not Colombian flake! that was years later.

I witnessed my father broker many deals at that bar while nursing down pints along with generous amounts of whisky and my mother held court with her half pints and other mixed concoctions. I sat and watched it all.

I was fortunate enough to learn early on the promise of a good pint and the amber allure of a glass of the water of life while watching the good people at the Taychreggan Pub drown their sorrows and fill up their happiness with Scotland's finest liquors.

 I sometimes wonder if my time in the corner watching and listening, observing the drunk and down trodden people of Dundee saunter into this wee corner of the globe has formed me as a man.
Was it this place that taught me my take no prisoners persona as I remember grown men beaten and thrown curbside for their offenses only to return the following night for another round of liquid courage.

The closing of the Taychreggan pub is like a wee part of my soul dying, a remembrance of happy times when my father and mother were younger and held the world in their hands with such verve.
I can still smell the place when I walk into older establishments, that old wood and aged leather aroma the air thick with fermented hops and the clinking of many glasses.

The noise of loud conversation and the whispers of money and deals all while I sit and watch and learn the ways of men.
I still use the lessons I learned in that wee corner as I weave my way through life.

The memories of the Taychreggan will live in me forever.

The last owner of the Creggy


Thursday, October 17, 2013

A History of Violence - no mas

The life of  Tommy McNaughton -
a Dundee lad in Miami.

Decades of violence, drugs and lies coupled with the nightmares that accompany the horrors and shame of a once poorly chosen lifestyle. A lifestyle chosen in youth when the flash of a car and the allure of a pistol hardened the body but softened the soul, as the song says
"It's the lure of easy money, it's got a very strong appeal."

I can't sleep lately, even though for the first time in a while I am in my own bed comfy yet troubled. The flashback of that night keeps me awake and the bitter taste of defeat rumbles in my belly like a healed wound punctured once more.

I can clearly see that night a long time ago in Miami a strong young man with quick and powerful hands and a temper built by the picts. I picture the walk to the ring, the well imbibed crowd spitting insults my way as I dodge cheap beer and peanuts listening to chants of gringo...gringo...gringo. It was a Friday fight night at Cooper's Gym and I was on the card versus a tough Cuban mauler named
Guillermo Cortez aka "El Toro."

Something was gnawing at me that night and as much as I tried I couldn't focus on the task at hand, my subconscious was going mental! I couldn't move as well as I usually did and it felt like running in a pool of honey while being pummeled by a man that on an any other night I could have easily put away in the second.

Cortez put me down in the third round, the game plan went out the window in the second round when nothing was working and I opted for the quick knock out. Anyone that has studied the sweet science will tell you that if you go for the knockout too much you open yourself for the counter. I made a bad mistake, the game plan called for the jab and for me to keep this bull away, frustrate him and let him loose his cool then attack with much malice.
I dumped the game plan and swung away like a punch drunk amateur.
I was caught cold - Cortez wins.

When your nose is broken you can't smell anything but by some miracle I sat in the trainers room as the doctor flitted about me checking for the usual signs of trauma and I could smell the stench of piss and sweat and dirty underpants flung on the floor by hurried pugilists. It may have been a phantom reaction of being in that room, it might have been a side effect of having my head punched too many times. I can still smell that stench today, not even time and money could erase that from the cerebellum, it's in there deep.

I am joined by my two friends Sully and Alexandrous. Sully, an American lad who dreams of the Emerald Isle where his grandparents came from and Alexandrous the crown prince of the Zoufrakis family, the type of family that moves snow in South Florida and I don't mean meteorologists.
I called Alexendrous - Eck.
Sully bobs and weaves and shows me where I went wrong, Eck pulls out a fat wallet and tells me it was fatter before my loss. I want a beer and a couple of shots so badly to ease the pain but back then Cooper would not let us drink alcohol after a fight for at least 24 hours, Sully hands me his flask. Cooper is not aware. Relief.
Outside the Miami night is sweet and warm and is a blessing to be away from the rancid gym, the aroma of Eck's cigarette is nauseating and if not for the visual oasis of surrounding ladies I would have gladly vomited on his shoes.

Sully nods to Eck as a white Mercedes approaches, Eck flings his cigarette rapidly as if to conceal his shame from the approaching carriage. That feeling I had in the fight comes rushing back, that gnawing in the gut like being hurled on a roller coaster towards a pit of vipers. I now know why I lost my focus and my bonus money to Cortez.

Out of the Mercedes steps Mr. Zoufrakis smoking a cigarette, he walks over to Eck and slaps him in the back of the head. "Smoking kills" he says all while looking me dead in the eye with the steeliness of a high noon gunslinger.
"What happened?" he moans "I thought you had this fucking guy" I stumble out an answer like a wee lad on his first date. Even though Eck and I have been best mates for years and I have been in the company of the entire Zoufrakis family, the old man still scared the piss out me. He was and old school gangster personified and a new age drug dealer in Miami Beach and was about to be my new boss.

Mr. Zoufrakis trusted me with his family and his product and along with Sully I began running game with Eck. We were a three man crew delivering the snow to the upper crust scumbags of Miami Beach. Plastic surgeons, golf pros, television presenters and so on and son on. The types of assholes that lived in South Beach penthouses and had more money than sense.

I swapped my Everlast gloves for a Smith and Wesson .357 magnum and followed my mates down a dark yet lovely path.

 Just like any Hollywood movie there were always massive perks of being in that business, all suitable for 3 young lads without responsibility.  I look back on those times and I am glad to be alive but I often think of the people I have hurt both physically and emotionally, funny how I could sleep at night after bashing someones brain in the ring but the memory of a grown man crying when faced with the option of paying up now or having a Louisville Slugger to the knee caps haunts me like a dogged demon. Why? I lie to myself and say we were all guilty, the dealers, the heavy, the user...we were all players in the game.

I think of the fight with Cortez and the failure to stick with the game plan, I keep saying over and over "Move...move"
I can still picture that night in Miami Beach, I can still picture Mr. Zoufrakis getting out of the Mercedes smoking but most of all I still remember the last time I gently laid the barrel of my .357 on the top of someones head as Eck and Sully counted the money. There are no pharmaceuticals that can erase that.....

I am on the strait and narrow until they close the lid on that box.

The sweet and exciting nights
in Miami Beach
So alluring yet so deadly.
I no longer live there.