The conversation

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Faither sat hunched in his favourite worn out comfy chair, the TV news blaring, it was always too loud.

Wax in his ears was always his excuse. “I’ll need tae make an appointment wae the nurse” a regular retort of his when questioned about the sound volume of the telly or the radio.

Pity the poor nurse in the nearby GP’s surgery if he did indeed have the build up of ear wax he professed to have, she’d need to stand well back whilst rinsing out his lug-holes to avoid the debris.

“What’s the Scottish news saying the night Dad? What’s the latest thing Nicola Sturgeon is getting the blame for? The Wall Street crash? Bird flu? What?” said Davie.

” Och, away ye go with all of that independence nonsense. Naebody is interested in politics. Ye had your chance in 2014. Forget it” said the older man. Faither seems a bit crabbit tonight, thought Davie.

With that dismissal the old man lifted his daily newspaper ‘The Express’, opened it up on the small table in front of him and started to thumb through it, appearing to be reading its pages.

Davie knew that his father was only pretending to read the paper as a way of ending the conversation because the old man couldn’t see a clear word on a page without his reading specs, which at that moment in time sat in their case on the mantle piece above the small log-effect gas fire.

Getting to his feet and heading to the living room window of the four in a block council flat Davie could see passers-by scurrying past on the way to, or from the town centre.

Once a bustling shopping thoroughfare the Main Street was now tired and had seen better days, lined with empty shopping units, some boarded up, graffitied and vandalised. The retail park on the edge of town had put paid to many of the small shops and businesses which had been the town’s mainstay for many years, leaving a bakers, a small grocery store, two coffee shops, a tattoo artist, a Turkish barbers and a shop selling E-cigarettes.

Almost everybody Davie observed passing the window was of pension age. Many of the younger working age residents of the scheme had moved out to bigger towns and the cities chasing work.

Looking directly across the street Davie could see the downstairs flat where his childhood pal had lived with his five siblings and parents.

What once had been a well kept family home with a lovely garden of trimmed lawn and rose bushes was now a metal shuttered unkempt private rental. It looked like there had been a fire. Davie’s dad had mentioned earlier that the polis had raided the flat when the group of drug addicts who usually hung about the town centre had broken in through a back window and had been using the accomodation as their howf.

Shaking his head Davie sat down on the settee and took out his IPad.

“Well if I was you Dad I widnae believe a lot of what you read in that paper, it’s pretty much fiction” Davie said loudly over the noise of Jackie Bird’s voice from the screen in the corner of the room. He reached for the TV remote and turned the sound down so that it was just loud, not blaring.

” Oh aye. I’ve bought this paper every day for forty years son. Yer granda read this paper too. It makes mair sense than that bloody thing you’ve got in yer hand” said Faither, pointing at Davie’s IPad.

” It’s a piece of nonsense. It’s aw Robert the Bruce, conspiracy theories and oppression wae you lot, aw written doon on they things, and passed round yeez all. Ye are all fooled by it, ye’ll hurt yer een looking at it.”

Davie took a deep breath. ” Well Dad I sincerely believe that Scotland can have a better future when it is governed by people who have its interests first and foremost in their mind, people who live here, not in London.Does that no’ seem a better arrangement to you? You should think about that maybe.”

” Listen son” said Faither. ” I’m done. I’ve done my forty years toil, I’ve heard aw this revolutionary talk before. We used tae have a shop steward in the work who thought he was Jimmy Reid. It never comes tae anything.”

“Ach your no’ done. I’ve seen you charge doon the path like a guardsman when you are heading tae the miners welfare on a Saturday, you’ve plenty years left in ye” said Davie.

“But what about my future? What aboot the weans future, your grandweans?”

The old man didn’t answer but dropped his head slightly, looking at his slippers.

In a quieter voice he spoke. “There’s nothing here. We’d be even worse off than we are the noo.”

“Dad, you’ve just said it yourself. You worked for forty years to keep us. Mam’s gone, God rest her, and even though you worked all of that time you are still struggling to meet your gas bill, your electricity bill. When was the last time you had a holiday? Ten years ago before Mam passed away, and that was only to Scarborough. This settee I’m sitting on is the same one you bought when we moved in here thirty-five years ago. Why is that? Could it be worse with Scotland in control of its own destiny? I don’t think so.”

“It’s all pie in the sky son.”

Davie replied ” Is it Dad? Really, is it? What if I could prove to you that life could have better for you and Mam and everybody else in Scotland over the last forty years? Would you believe me that we need to do something about this then?”

“Go oan then. We’ll gie it a shot” said Faither, conceding ground.

With that Davie switched on his IPad and typed in the search engine box the words ‘The McCrone Report’. Reaching over to the mantelpiece he lifted his father’s reading glasses and said quietly “Here Dad, you are going to need these.”

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