* * * * * *
‘Turn around,’ he whispered, hoping Ronny might hear. ‘Turn around, you little fucker. Just once.’
Ronny sported a smarmy grin and began laughing into the mouthpiece. Steve imagined him telling whoever it was on the other end of the line how he’d just outwitted the ‘fookin’ pap-a-ra-zzi’.
He waited…and then a most beautiful thing happened. Ronny, still smiling, turned in the direction of Steve, whose eyes lit up behind the camera. Ronny continued turning until his gaze trained straight down the barrel of the lens. Steve pressed hard on the shutter button and the camera’s motor drive leapt into action. Simultaneously, Ronny’s eyes became the size of dinner plates and his expression turned from unrequited joy to abject horror. Instantaneously, he launched himself behind dip-shit.
* * * * * *
By all reports it was a nice flat, except for the fact its front door opened out onto the street. This meant every sort of drunken arsehole could bang on it at all hours of the night as they staggered home. The front door of the flat led up a set of stairs to the flat proper and Malcy’s bedroom window sat directly above the door. Apart from banging on the door, drunks also used it as a toilet. This drove him to despair and he regularly awoke to the sound of gushing ‘water’ splashing against the woodwork downstairs.
Wracked with vile disgust, he would charge to the window and slide it open. From there he could look down on the pisser and would always shout aloud the seconds it took for the drunkard below to realise they, in turn, were being pissed on. The record was eight seconds.
Nearly all the unlucky recipients of Malcy’s ‘ waterfall’ looked skywards in an attempt to ascertain the origins of the sudden downpour that had befallen them, and it was at this moment he would bellow: ‘Hoo da ya think ma fookin’ door feels!?’
* * * * * *
Steve suddenly found himself sitting in a winter wonderland and a childlike awe came over him. He reached out to let the snowflakes fall into his gloved hand. The cold of the day preserved the snowflakes long enough for him to observe them, before the faint body heat exuding through his gloved hand melted them.
He looked up to see the game in full swing down the other end of the park. For one fleeting moment he couldn’t understand why the players hadn’t stopped and allowed themselves to be enthralled by what was happening around them. Then he realised that snow was nothing new to those running around on the pitch.
The moment hadn’t been lost on everyone and a noticeable lull came over the 45,000-strong crowd. The photographers sitting alongside Steve exchanged looks. It was unusual for any crowd to go silent. Then, like a rush of wind, the terraces behind them burst into song.
Having grown used to the various football anthems, it took a short time for the origins of the new song to register. The song had a familiar ring to it, but Steve couldn’t quite place it. Then the penny dropped. They were singing Jingle Bells. Gradually every member of both sets of supporters joined in to form an impromptu 45,000-strong, predominantly male choir, whose deep, earthy, baritone voices filled the cavernous stadium.
Amidst the snow and the singing the game continued at a furious pace at the other end of the field. Instead of watching the game, Gerry Warburton, the Celtic goalie down Steve’s end of the field, turned and conducted the crowd as they serenaded themselves. Through this simple action, Steve and the other photographers landed a spontaneous photo – Gerry Warburton’s beaming smile, his over-sized goalkeeping gloves conducting the crowd, and the falling snow lit by the floodlights and frozen by the camera shutter.
This culinary delight involved a slice of deep-fried pizza, dripping in fat, served with chips, also dripping in fat, and lots of shalt an’ shauss. Ordering one of these indicated the drinker had indulged in the biggest night of all – ten pints to oblivion.
Steve had a leaning towards pizza at the best of times and one night found himself staring at the hand-scrawled menu behind the counter, his mouth agape and his body swaying back and forth as a result of the dozen or so pints he had downed.
His eyes might have been pointing in different directions, but he managed to focus on the word ‘pizza’ and staggered to the counter to place his order. His first pizza supper was in the offing.* * * * * *
Steve stood where he was. There was no need to go any further. As he turned to leave, another woman, obviously sent to fend him off if he made it to the counter, appeared. He felt no need to make her acquaintance and walked back to the car. He’d been found out again, but he was quite happy about it. There was little, if any chance he would be getting her photo now.
Shortly after settling back into the relative warmth of his car he noticed his heart had stopped pounding and a sense of relief had replaced the cocktail of emotions present minutes earlier. He phoned the picture desk.
‘Nah, mate, she’s on to me. She must have somehow got an eyeful this morning at her place. When she spotted me just then she did the bolt and sent out some wifey to fend me off. I don’t reckon she’ll be coming out until home time this arvo’. How long do you want me to hang around? I’ve got to be back in Edinburgh for a job at lunchtime.’
This was bullshit. There was no job in Edinburgh at lunchtime. However, the picture desk didn’t know this. It was purely experience that had taught Steve how to play the game and this involved lying, or, as he saw it, the ability to not let on that he didn’t want to be there. It was a skilled art.