Mr Scotchboy had been invited to the Writers’ Group to critique their short stories. Andrew had him down as a total charlatan. The use of different typefaces within the covers of the same novel was something that Andrew could stand, almost. Slim Scotchboy was wont to use four different typefaces within the confines of the same word, even if that word contained only four letters. Especially if that word contained only four letters, Andrew mused. Complete wank, as Slim might have put it. Though not in reference to his own work, of course.
‘When ye’re writing a short story,’ Slim instructed them, ‘keep it flowing. There’s no time for flashbacks. Ye start at a point in the past and tell the story. Here’s an example. It’s from, eh...’ He tried to get to grips with a large piece of cardboard on the table. One of Colm Beattie’s storyboards. Colm was trying to break into scriptwriting for Thunderbirds, bravely choosing to ignore the fact that they had stopped making the show in the late 60s. Slim scanned the front of the board, and tried to turn it over, but it was too cumbersome. He read the first line of bumf.
‘ “Lady Penelope was sitting in the back of her chauffeur driven limousine. She had just come out of the hairdresser’s.” .’
All eyes on Colm, whose face was pink.
Slim cackled. ‘I mean, come on, people, why not just begin with “She came out of the hairdresser’s and got into the car”?’
Like everyone else, Colm was taking notes. His pencil, however, was in danger of going through his jotter and leaving scratch marks on the table.
‘Look, everybody,’ said Slim. This caused an outbreak of fidgeting. Slim Scotchboy was the hottest thing in Scottish fiction, and when he said ‘Look!’, it was a very foolish scribbler indeed whose eyes, head and neck didn’t start jigging round the room to find it. The guru was about to impart Wisdom. This unconditional respect was something that Andrew found sickening. Their awe for The Scotchboy spawned merely from the fact that some hipster in London had chosen to flood the market with paperback versions of the drivel he churned out. Nothing more.
Slim inhaled deeply. ‘Avoid the pluperfect,’ he said.
There was a hiss as the massed pencils skidded to a halt, accompanied by a grating noise; someone had hit wood. People were leaning over, looking at their neighbours’ notes. God, thought Andrew. What a performance. Slim, it had to be said, was playing a blinder. They were lapping him up. Andrew coughed. ‘Pure pish,’ he said. Gasps. Colm Beattie managed a wee grin. ‘Mr Scotchboy,’ Andrew continued. ‘You didn’t come all the way from Glasgow to give us a grammar lesson, did you?’