Saturday, 29 September 2012

A Scotsman Selling Toilet Roll In Greece - from a work in progress

I walked down to the square. Tam was on the corner, leaning against his barrow and affecting the worst Irish accent I had ever heard:
‘Get yer loovely toilet paper here – all de way from ould Doublin!’
‘All right, Tam?’
He ignored me. Someone had just picked up a sample. The transaction was completed, much to Tam’s delight.
‘What’s with the brogue?’ I said.
‘Ever seen green bog roll?’ he said. ‘Course ye have. This lot, however, haven’t. Call it a Celtic sales pitch.’
‘But they can’t speak English,’ I reminded him.
He jingled the coins in his hand. ‘Away wichi!’ he said. ‘Dey loove de ould blarney. Interested?’
We still had half a family pack at the flat. I was about to explain this when my attention was seized by the sight of two men in leather caps pushing a barrow into the square. They took a furtive look round then parked. They carefully removed the tarpaulin that was covering their wares.
‘Now there’s something ye don’t see every day,’ said Tam, and scratched his head through tartan.
A periscope was lying inside an inflatable dinghy.
     ‘I hope their patter’s good,’ he said, and looked at his own merchandise. ‘My stuff’s more household oriented, though.’

Friday, 28 September 2012

A Scottish Psychiatrist - from a work in progress

Dr Hasp was not at all pleased.
‘For goodness’ sake,’ he said. ‘Didn’t you hear me call ‘Enter’?’
‘No, I didn’t,’ said Dug.
‘Well,’ said Hasp, and opened the door wider. ‘Come in and park it.’
The office was crammed from floor to ceiling with newspapers. Assorted front pages of the Falkirk Herald had been taped over the windows, making the electric light necessary even at this time of the morning. Books, folders and loose leaf documents were strewn all over the desk, and there was a clunky old Philips cassette recorder sitting on top of a pile of magazines. A large prosthetic hand was propped in the corner of the room like a mop.
‘Something wrong?’ said Hasp.
‘No,’ said Dug. ‘Just your...newspapers...’
‘Porous bricks,’ Hasp said, curtly. ‘Strange you haven’t mentioned them before. I’ll have to make a note.’ He started scribbling with a pencil. Then he looked up. ‘Paper is an excellent insulator, you know.’
‘Good idea,’ said Dug.
Hasp tilted his head back. ‘I know,’ he said. ‘Now.’ He underlined the note he had just made and flicked back through the file. ‘Mm-yes,’ he said. ‘How’s the therapy coming along? Are the photographs helping, we wonder?’
‘Oh, don’t apologise,’ said Hasp. ‘As I’ve told you before, it’s a much more common problem than you might imagine. Never reported in the popular press, though. No entertainment value, you see.’ He opened a drawer and produced a bottle of Famous Grouse. He filled a glass that he found under a mound of yellow paper. The glass looked like it hadn’t been washed in a very long time. ‘Just keep at it,’ he said. ‘I feel...’ He squinted at the whorls rolling around the whisky, behind the fingerprints. ‘I feel we are on the verge of a breakthrough. Then we can ask your mother to come back in...’
Dug held up both hands. ‘Stop, stop, Doctor,’ he said. ‘I haven’t got a problem with my mother.’
Hasp laid the glass down slowly. ‘Well there’s a stringent denial if you please,’ he said. He scratched another note in the file. He stopped suddenly, then flipped back to the front page. He ran a finger over the photograph stapled in the corner then looked at Dug. He glanced at his watch. ‘You’re not my eleven o’clock, are you?’ he said.
Dug shook his head.
‘No, you’re not,’ said Hasp, and flapped the file shut.
‘I’m here about my...’
‘Well,’ said Hasp. ‘This is all rather...I, er...well, where’s my eleven o’clock, hmm? It’s twenty past now.’
Dug had no idea.
Hasp took a mouthful of whisky. ‘The question being begged, of course,’ he said, ‘is who are you, young man?’
‘Douglas Lloyd,’ said Dug.
‘Ah!’ said Hasp. ‘Douglas Lloyd Douglas Lloyd. Hmm. And we’ve met?’
‘Well, yes,’ said Dug. ‘I was here a few weeks ago...’
‘Nope,’ said Hasp. ‘Can’t remember you.’
‘You phoned me last night,’ said Dug. ‘You said my father was here. Walter...’
‘Walter Lloyd, the drunk and disorderly!’ Hasp smiled. He laid his pencil next to the glass and awarded himself with a pat on the shoulder. He bounced up from his chair and stumbled against a stack of Falkirk Heralds. ‘We’ve got him locked up. Come on.’

Thursday, 20 September 2012

'A Man's Hands' - new collection of short stories by Andrew McCallum Crawford - Cover by Kit Foster

This is the cover for my new collection of short stories, due out later in the year.

The cover is by Edinburgh-based genius, Kit Foster. Do have a look at Kit's website: Kit Foster Design. When it comes to book covers, Kit is the man.

Monday, 17 September 2012


Standing in a bright, clean place
Waiting for your past to walk through the door.

Kit Foster to design the cover for 'A Man's Hands'

I am so pleased to be able to announce that Edinburgh-based artist Kit Foster will be designing the cover of my next collection of short stories, A Man's Hands.

Kit is an exceptional artist. I met him briefly when we were both performing at the Edinburgh Fringe a few years ago. He designed the cover of my first collection, The Next Stop Is Croy and other stories.

Do have a look at Kit's website - his work is outstanding.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

from A.S.

  She clenches her fist and the chain snaps. The stones scatter on the ground.
  A dozen blue eyes stare up at us from the muck.
  I hear something in my throat.
  'I'm sorry,' she says.
  She doesn't move. I gather the stones myself. I can't bear to look at her. 'Why did you come?' I say. 'What's the point of you being here?'
  'You're right,' she says. 'This is all a mistake. It should never have happened.'
  I put the stones in my pocket. She can do what she likes with the chain. 'All I wanted was to talk to you,' I say. 'Is that what you're afraid of?'
  'Don't speak to me like this,' she says.
  The mist is getting thicker. It confines us. It is inside us, making it hard to breathe. Our voices. We sound like people who are drowning.

Friday, 14 September 2012

In a bus station snack bar...

  A shape passed by the window, really close. Before she knew what she was doing, she had slipped the knife into her pocket.
  The door banged shut behind him. His overcoat was hanging off his shoulders, rain was dripping out of his fringe onto his forehead. He lurched over to the table.
  She dragged the ashtray towards her and stubbed out her cigarette.
  He collapsed into the chair opposite.
  ‘Did you have to get drunk?’ she said.
  He ran his fingers through his hair and wiped his hand on his chest. ‘Aye, that’s you,’ he said. ‘Always ready with a remark.’
  ‘You got my letter, then?’ she said.
   He took one of her cigarettes. He had trouble lighting it, his hands were shaking so much, his head swaying. He blew smoke across the table, her scone was covered in it. It didn’t matter, she wasn’t hungry. ‘Aye, I got your letter,’ he said.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The Weird And Wonderful World Of TEFL - Tam, School Owner

I bumped into Tam on the way back to the flat. He was selling women’s shoes off a barrow.
‘Standing in for a mate,’ he said. ‘He went for a slash.’ He looked over his shoulder. ‘That was twenty minutes ago, right enough.’
An elderly woman stopped to browse his wares. She picked up one shoe after another and threw each one down with disdain. She looked at Tam with an expression that betrayed her anger at how he could dare try to punt such crap.
She shuffled off along the pavement.
‘Bitch,’ Tam muttered. ‘Fucking top quality gear, an’ all. Guaranteed plastic uppers.’ He looked at me. ‘They might give ye blisters,’ he said, ‘but they’ll never wear out.’
There was nothing I could say.
‘The shine lasts a lifetime!’ he added. Surely he wasn’t trying to sell me something?
‘Well, Tam,’ I said. ‘I’m off. Early start tomorrow, eh?’
He checked his wrist. Light freckles on pale skin. The watch strap was pink elastic. ‘Eh?’ he said. ‘Oh, aye. What time are ye...’
‘Nine o’clock,’ I said. Didn’t he know?
He smiled quietly to himself. ‘Well, ye’ve got the map,’ he said. ‘The, eh, secretary’ll open up at half eight.’
‘Right,’ I said. I turned to leave, but he tapped me on the elbow.
‘Ye’re no looking for a pair of shoes, are ye?’ he said.
I glanced at what was on display.
‘I’ll have gents’ designs next week,’ he said. He sounded desperate.
‘Some other time,’ I said, and started walking. ‘It was shirts I was looking for.’
‘I’ll do ye a deal!’ he shouted.
I kept walking. I wanted to get back to the flat to go over my lesson plan.  The verb ‘to be’.
I was dying to see Tam’s school.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Drive! by Andrew McCallum Crawford


Terry was in The Confessional. It was only lunchtime, but he was already on his fourth double.
His father was after him.
He drained the remainder and slapped the bar.
‘More whisky here!’ he said. He watched Sean pour another generous measure, then raised the glass to his lips. The warm fumes smelled was missing...
‘I know!’ he said. ‘It’s time for a sing-song!’
The Confessional was full. Some of the patrons turned to look.
‘I am the spawn!’ he wailed, ‘Let’s be fair!’
He raised an arm, whisky lapping over the sides of his glass as he tried to incite the reluctant choir.
‘Of a shaman pathologica-a-lly vulgar!’
The babble of conversation, he was pleased to note, had begun to trail off.
‘And it’s all over!’ he laughed. ‘Now!’
Silence at last. He closed his eyes and let the appreciation wash over him. Yes, he thought. They love me.
The silence continued. His audience seemed to be waiting for something. Perhaps the second verse...they didn’t think he was a comedy act, surely? If it was a punchline they were expecting...
Oh, Christ, he thought, and turned carefully round.
Dennis McCleaver was standing right behind him.
‘Well, well,’ said Terry, the corner of his mouth suddenly trembling. ‘I’ve been expecting you.’
Dennis just stood there, all camel hair coat and sinister grins. Even though nothing was funny, Terry knew that things were about to get very sinister indeed. A cordon sanitaire was already forming. He managed to check the trembling in his lip, but his legs began to shake. ‘I suppose this is about my father?’ he said.
Dennis just grinned.
‘Look,’ said Terry, ‘you know, if he’s...’
Dennis just grinned. Then grinned some more. The only sound in the pub was Sean’s duster polishing a nervous hole in the counter. Terry knew he had to say something. To, what was it, take the initiative. ‘Sean,’ he said. ‘Fill a glass for my friend here.’ He would have asked Dennis if he had any particular preference, but when he looked at him all he could see was teeth.
A glass was pushed under the nearest optic.
‘God, no, not the Grouse,’ said Terry. ‘Top shelf...a drop of my usual, I think.’
Dennis leaned in slowly. ‘You’ve to get out of the flat,’ he said. ‘Give me your key.’
Terry did what he was told.
‘Thank you,’ said Dennis. He brushed aside the front of his coat and dropped the key into his trouser pocket. He was still grinning.
Terry risked a sigh of relief. He gestured at the glass Sean had just laid on the bar. ‘Your whisky,’ he said. ‘It’s from Jura, noted for its...’ He felt something skewer his thigh. He glanced down, his eyes wide, expecting to see the hilt of a knife buried in his leg. But it wasn’t a knife. It was Dennis’s knee. Terry’s chin bounced off it as he crumpled to the floor.
Dennis tipped back his whisky. ‘Let that be a lesson,’ he said.
Terry, rolling around quietly on the carpet, watched Dennis’s shoes disappear out the door. That it should have come to this. He had done his best to blend in among the Doctors, Lawyers and Professors who frequented the place. He was always immaculately dressed, and he had that essential Scottish Private School accent. They had kindly agreed to overlook the long hair and the fact that he was merely a third year student of Agriculture. What an embarrassment.
He groped his way up the front of the bar.
‘Justice!’ someone shouted.
A heckler? Terry thought, just as he got his elbows onto the counter.
‘You okay?’ asked Sean.
‘Never better,’ said Terry, and caught the eye of the Dean of the Faculty of Science, whose cutlery was poised over his bridie and beans. ‘As you see, Professor, The Lord and my father work in mysterious ways!’

Drive! is available on Amazon UK and Amazon com