Sunday, November 3, 2013

When Murray shuddered at the Merchant City

When I woke up on Saturday morning I realised I wasn't stressed at all about the Book Launch. This was the first time that's ever happened to me on the day of a Book Launch so I am the type to think, even at that, something is bound to go wrong. 

The 945am train from Haymarket pulled out from a sunny Edinburgh and powered into a dreech central belt that would set the weather tone for the day. Gaffer got on at Linlithgow and it was funny listening to his excuses for working for SKY now (" get free tea on a Wednesday")

By the time we hit Glasgow, the rain was torrential, so what better way to spend the next hour than standing on grass in the open air. A tiny sacrifice given we were stood in front of the newly sculpted Celtic Cross that now stands in Dalbeth Cemetery as a monument to our founding fathers. Was good to bump into a few friendly faces like The Parrot, Stevie Cairney, Jason Higgins Arthur Rusk and John Paul Taylor. 

Umbrella sellers had a field day.

Gaffer and I moved off with The Parrot and Arthur for a Mellow Birds and it was great to just sit there shooting the shit. I've no doubt this is what completely relaxed me for the rest of the day.

The game you know about, it was damp, dull but we are still undefeated. As usual.

Straight after the game I met the Dublin Brigade of Conor, Mick and Darren and we made our way to the Merchant City.

This is the worst part of any Book Launch day for me, the bit where I am heading to it, it's all in front of me, everyone is looking forward to the craic and getting leathered into the drink and you're thinking "Fuck, it's me they are coming to see" The other aspect is it always nags at the back of your mind that this will be the time that no one shows up, it's pishing down, crap game, they will all go home. Thankfully when we got to Blackfriars, via The Libertine, several folk were already waiting outside the venue including the inimitable Richard Swan who is as much a part of these things as I am.

When I first got downstairs there were maybe around 40 folk there. Colette and her team had arrived and Richard whisked me away to the toilet to interview me, honest, we're just friends.

When I came out the entire place was packed and full of friendly faces. As well as the Dublin Brigade, my friend Paul had flown over for it and he has been a tower of strength to me for many years and I want to thank him now for always being there.

Similarly seeing folk like Simmy and Michelle again, always does my heart proud. Stevie, if you're reading, sorry you couldn't make it, stay strong brother.

These nights would not be the same without Paul Lee and the wee man was there in his usual fine form and singing voice that Susan Boyle couldn't rival.

Always great meeting new friends like Hutchie, Eddie and David Brown.

The rain soaked and welcomed faced Hugh Clark even made an appearance, before he overthrows the SFA.

The people that come to these things are fantastic, I would say that wouldn't I, but these same people came to The Admiral in April 2012 and stood around wondering who everyone else was, 18 months on and they have drank together, sang together and, aye, even shagged each other some of them, and they are the heartbeat of these nights.

Krys Kujawa was first up and read some stuff from a new book he is doing and it was very well received. The bar had done us a real turn having a proper set up of chairs and stage for a night like this. Our host for this evening, the tasty Jo Laing(that will set off her radar...;-), humbled me with her intro and before I knew it I was in front of the bright lights (An in joke for folk who were there).

What followed was a 90 minute show where I told the background to the book, illustrated the level of cheating we faced then took questions, heckles and incoherent rambling from the floor. In all seriousness it was great and really added to the night with a good toing and froing. 

Blink and it was all over and Stevie Dodds led the illicit chanting and it has to be said, he was absolutely phenomenal. The raffle draw came and the lovely Louise Lavery won and ensured everyone knew about it! After that it was great to meet folk, catch up with friends, sign books and canoodle with Jane Hamilton.

I would like thank again all the McCann's, Steph O'Neill, Paul, Louise, The Larne Bhoys, Conor and the Bhoys, Krys, my assistant Evan, Dermo, Jo, The Parrot and Arthur for all ensuring the day went smoothly. Nothing really went wrong at all.

Plus everyone who came, listened, asked questions, sang and drank, the people on Twitter who wished me well and the people in the book group who continue to inspire you restored my faith in humanity, I'll never forget that.

Then it was over.

Not before though the 150 people who packed the pub sent David Murray and co a clear message that not only are we not sitting at the back of the bus any more, we are driving it head on towards you all.

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