All the Colours of the Town

All the Colours of the Town by Liam McIlvanney

Book: All the Colours of the Town by Liam McIlvanney Read Free Book Online
Authors: Liam McIlvanney
Tags: Scotland
and guess what? It’s true.’
    ‘Yeah, but they’re no all like that,’ I said.
    Turner shrugged.
    ‘This was Lyons’s lodge, wasn’t it?’
    ‘What’s that, son?’
    ‘Peter Lyons.’
    Nobody spoke. Finally Frazer peered into his half-pint glass, swirling an inch of seventy.
    ‘It’s a long time since Peter Lyons threw a stick.’
    ‘But did you know him then? What was he like? Was he a good Orangeman?’
    ‘Of course I knew him. He was a bloody good drum major, that’s what he was.’
    The others nodded.
    ‘The best,’ said Turner.
    ‘So what happened?’ I looked round the faces. ‘Why did he leave?’
    ‘He sold the jerseys,’ said Black-and-Tan. ‘He wanted his name on election posters. He wanted a red rosette and his picture in the papers. He knew the comrades wouldnae wear it, the selection committees, what have you.’
    ‘Yeah, but you never really lose it, do you?’ Frazer tapped on the tabletop. ‘He’ll always be an Orangeman.’
    ‘Don’t kid yourself, Brother.’
    ‘I’m not kidding. I’ll tell you one thing. I remember his face when he led the band, the look in his eyes when he brought the boys down that High Street. I don’t care what he does, I don’t care if he becomes prime minister, the bloody Pope, he’ll never get a feeling the like of that.’
    ‘Do you never see him any more?’ I said. ‘Does he never come down, for the Twelfth?’
    Frazer set the empty glass on the table.
    ‘Why’nt you ask him.’ He nodded at an old boy sitting at the bar. ‘That’s his faither.’
    We all looked across. The old man rose to his feet and edged out from behind his table. I thought at first he had heard us and was leaving, but he walked past the exit, heading for the lavatory. Then the barman had his arm out, pointing across the pub:
    ‘That’ll do you, girls. Not another step.’
    Three lassies in short skirts and heavy eye make-up stood just inside the door. Diane was the leader. She held up a card, brandished it like a referee.
    ‘What’s this look like? You cannae bar us, mister. We’re eighteen . We’ve got ID.’
    ‘It’s your bus pass, hen. You’re no coming in.’
    He was out from behind the bar now, approaching with outstretched arms, shooing them out.
    Diane looked around.
    ‘Hey, Gerry! There’s Gerry. Tell him, Gerry. We’re eighteen. Tell him.’
    The door swung shut on their protests. The barman stayed where he was, making no move to go back to the bar.
    Black-and-Tan was nodding. He reached for his drink and then stopped.
    ‘You’re Gerry Conway. I fucking knew I knew you.’
    ‘Who’s Gerry Conway?’
    ‘He writes for the Trib . You write for the Tribune .’
    ‘You’re a journalist?’
    I nodded.
    The man who was Peter Lyons’s dad had come back from the toilet now and he too stopped, waited for what would happen.
    There was a long, slack moment of silence, during which I studied the scuffs on the lino and Turner’s incongruous training shoes, and then the breeze was cool on my face, lifting my fringe.
    The barman was holding the door and the others had got to their feet.
    ‘Time you werenae here, son.’
    I couldn’t find the car. I walked from one end of the wasteground to the other. More than ever, it looked like a football match; all the buses in a row, Rangers placards in their windows: Garscube Loyal; Tradeston True Blues. Then I turned a corner and there it was.
    The parade had finished: the pavements were filling up once more, as bandsmen and marchers went back to their coaches. I inched through the streets, stop-starting, gently beeping the pedestrians. I wanted out before the streets clogged altogether, and I turned, without proper attention , onto the High Street. Straight off I clocked it: the blue disc, the white arrow, pointing the wrong way. Shit. I looked for a side street, but they were thick with bodies, the crowds spilling into the thoroughfare. Fuck. I threw the car into reverse and swung round.

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