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I didn’t ask you, mate… – Sean Urquhart


Photo by Product School on Unsplash

Oh, it was constant. The deathless monologist in full, half-canned flight. Impressive, but Christ it was heavy-going. I kept up the silent wall between us until I snapped when he mentioned the word. That one that I had never heard in my native land. I shook my head and said ‘no, pal and I don’t appreciate your racist patter’. He shrugged and continued. He hadn’t left Manhattan in his life. Not once. here I was, 1000s of air miles from Glasgow and this prat hadn’t even left his neighbourhood. He tried to mollify me with beer and compliments, that old we-just-the-same-buddy piss. I stood my ground and towered over this git. Eventually, there was no gainsay and I left, calling him out quietly and suggesting he saw more of the world.

Later, I realised my own prejudices. I didn’t much like New Yorkers. Their arrogance, entitled behaviour, their ‘we’re the capital of the world’ stance. It was predictable and at least I wasn’t him. Tony the Italian as Angel the barkeep dubbed him. 5′ 6″ of utter nonsense. I’d met just the same geezers in London, Paisley, Paris and all points in between. It was disappointing but not surprising. My liberal bias was just that. I was likely from a similar background and Tony looked just like all of my idiot uncles on my dad’s side. Smart arses with a line in put-downs and with a big conceit of themselves and their abilities.

2005 is light years from now. We still had the semblance of a democracy then.

I don’t imagine NYC is the same either. Tony was a warning beacon of the feverish present tense. It’s a bad JG Ballard script written by a drunk Peter Hammill.

I look out at the Scottish rain.

It rained the same in NYC; hard, unrelenting.

It resembled my home city so much.

I needn’t have bothered flying out there.

Only the indifference was stark as a contrast,

A tone poem of edgy white noise and fury

and division.

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