Irrational Encounters With The Modern World

Coincidence

World War Who? Seeing The Future.

I wrote the following joke today. If you want to be offended by it please check a dictionary first.

The Retardis is a time machine that only goes backwards.

That reminded me that I have not yet seen the feature film World War Z, but I once put it on long enough to watch the end credits.

This may seem a strange decision, to begin at the ending without viewing a single scene or giving the plot any attention. However, the film was partly shot in Glasgow, my home town, and I was curious to see which of my industry friends had worked on it. I noticed something in the cast list which caught my attention.

Filmed in 2011, the parts were cast long in advance of the BBC’s much-anticipated announcement about the actor who would play the new Doctor Who. It was 2013 when, publisihing details of their own output as “news”, it was revealed that Peter Capaldi had gained the role.

Peter Capaldi, the credits told me, had a part in World War Z. With hindsight, the way they worded his appearance as a member of the World Health Organisation seems rather apt.

wwz credit

 


A Handy Windfall.

I am not, to any great extent, superstitious.

I try to avoid walking under ladders, but that is because I do not want to dislodge them and neither do I want anything dropped on my head. I greet solitary magpies when I see them, with a general “hello, magpie” as I am not personally acquainted with any of them. I always look for a second one – ‘two for joy’ – and have written the word twice in the previous sentence in case, like me, you appreciate the reassurance of seeing a pair. I am aware of how ridiculous that sounds, and I have tried to wean myself using logic and rational thinking, but it is a habit long ingrained in me – since childhood.

Today, I woke with an incredible itch in my left palm. To my mind, that signifies the coming into of money. An itchy right palm denotes that you will soon shake hands, indicating an imminent new meeting. A less superstitious person would point out that having an itchy palm suggests you should scratch it. Even the superstitious are not agreed on what either means – there are countless (about ten) variations.

Having alleviated the irritation, by scratching it, I let myself imagine that perhaps this week will bring my considerable lottery win. I play twice a week, because I am sick of not being a millionaire. Last week I won £8.40, which is a start. I spent it on more lottery tickets, and suspect that I have walked straight into their trap.

My left palm still tingling, I came online and discovered that I had received a new email from a company I did some freelance work for late last year. They have amended my booking to adjust the rate, the upshot of which is that I am now in line to receive an additional £7.61 on top of the fee I had agreed.

Half of me is intelligent and enlightened, knowing that it must be mere coincidence to receive notification of incoming wealth so soon after my hand became itchy. Half of me is, nevertheless, struck by the indisputable proximity of both events. Another half of me struggles with fractions.

Given that the world is absurd, and that I have very much accepted the fact, the question is not “what does it all mean?” Rather, my question is: what am I going to spend this seven quid on?

The answer is probably pizza.

 

 

 


Bus Travel Is Smashing Fun.

A few years ago, when I was still a Glaswegian trapped in Hamilton and before I escaped to the city that is rightfully my home, I used to voluntarily work backstage for most of the local amateur theatre groups. They were largely based in (or performed at) the Town Hall, as it then was. It has since undergone refurbishment and become The Townhouse – a delusion of grandeur that it didn’t really merit. When I went back there to see it, prior to it being reopened to the public, I had it pointed out to me that all the scenery and flight cases now have to be loaded in through a double door made entirely of glass. It looks very pretty, if you like your architecture of glass and steel, but it is exceptionally impractical for a door that will be in such heavy and potentially-destructive use.

While the building was closed for this makeover, and other changes they made included taking all the fun out of flying the scenery – the very thing that caught my interest when I started – one local group took to performing their shows in Motherwell instead. If Hamilton is too small and depressing, Motherwell is worse. Beyond that is Wishaw, and then after that you’re in Wild West country. Here is an example.

I took the bus over to Motherwell that first night of the week’s run, but I wasn’t entirely sure of my bearings – having managed to avoid that town for some years – and couldn’t tell, in the dark and looking through windows thick with condensation on the inside and muck on the outside, where to get off. Naturally, perhaps inevitably, I missed my stop. In the middle of nowhere, or at least in unfamiliar territory, I decided my best option was to stay on the bus and wait for it to make the final stop, turn around, and head back. Then I could admit my error and ask the driver to let me know when to get off.

Eventually, I was the last person on the bus. The driver shouted up and asked me where I was going, as this was the final stop, and I told him I’d long since missed my destination and would jump off on the way back. That was when he told me he wasn’t going back, as his shift was finished. He said he would drop me off though, and told me to move down and sit on the seats directly behind his cab.

I had been sitting maybe four rows into the bus, on the right hand side as I faced forward. There was one seat behind the driver’s cab, which faced the aisle, and another the other side of the wheel arch, and then rows of double seats on both sides all the way to the back of the bus. As instructed, I moved down to this new seat and sat down. The driver switched the main gangway lights off, and we drove on in relative darkness. I don’t know where I was, but it was some winding country road with little ambient light.

About twenty seconds after I relocated, if that, a half-brick came hurtling through the window beside the very seat I had been sitting on. I don’t know if the driver anticipated that or just wanted to be able to put the lights off, but the fact that it arrived so suddenly, and precisely where I had been sitting, right after he told me to move, rattled me no end. The rest of the journey was very cold, on account of the shattered window (the rest of it fell in on the course of the journey), but I did make it to my stop eventually.

I can’t remember, even vaguely, which show I was working on. It might have been South Pacific, but I wouldn’t put money on it. I can’t remember when exactly this happened – other than the early 2000s – but what I do remember, quite vividly, is the time that I missed receiving a brick in the face and a mouthful of broken glass by mere seconds. I’m glad that I was told to move, and happier that I did so. Timing is everything.

 

 


Putting The “Glass” Into Glasgow. With Force.

There is, I am reliably informed, an accepted technique when it comes to thrusting a glass into somebody’s face – in a pub, for example – which results in maximum damage to the antagonist (and to the glass, obviously), but which limits the chances of you sending broken shards straight through your own skin. I learned this twice, but thankfully only in theory.

The first time, and I forget how it came up, my friend demonstrated the correct method, as taught to her by her father. She talked me through both the move and the reasoning, and I mentally filed it away for potential future reference. We talk about stuff like that periodically, and our shared sense of humour often centres – like much of our culture – around violence, so I didn’t really think anything more of it. Well, until a week later.

I was in another pub, with three other friends, and two of them (a couple) were playing about with their drinks. Suddenly, curiosity spurred my single friend to ask if we knew how to glass somebody – before explaining precisely the same technique I had been taught mere days before. This struck a chord, not least because this particular friend is slightly built, openly gay, and very southern-English. Quite how he ended up describing the established way of perpetrating one of the most Glaswegian of violent acts bemused me, and so I asked him outright, “How the fuck do you know that??”

It turned out that he had been taught by his friend – the sister of the friend who had shown me. Small world.

What worried me, though, was the thought of what my friends must know about my future – of what was ahead of me – that had compelled them to supply me with this information within a week of each other…

It wasn’t entirely coincidental that these other friends knew my Glassing Friend’s sister – although they hadn’t all met, all five of us were working in the same industry, and some occasionally for the same company. It was just weird that this topic of conversation arose twice in such quick succession. I said as much to my friend, who told her sister, and the pair of them reported the whole thing back to their dad. As I heard it, his reaction was to shake his head and lament: “I taught you girls everything – to read, to write. But the one thing you’re telling everyone is – how to glass cunts.”

 

I’ve told this story many times since, and recently tried it onstage as part of my stand-up comedy (having been made to, and happily, promised not to share the exact details.) It didn’t work in that context, and so here it is in written form. It is worth stating that, to the best of my knowledge, none of us has actually put this theory into practice yet. The emphasis is on the final word of that last sentence.

 


Ignorance Is Ignorant, And Nosey With It.

A couple of winters ago, I was living in a different part of the city. You meet a different type of person on the buses that go down Paisley Road West than you do on the buses that go up Great Western Road, which is a statement of fact and not a judgement, and this involved the former. It was a cold December night, a few days before the major celebration of that month, and the bus was packed full. I sat next to a black man of average build, who was in the window seat. Directly behind him there was a bigger-built black guy with a mean look on his face, and next to this guy was the evening’s Bus Arsehole – a drunk, mouthy, Glaswegian woman of forty or fifty.

The guy next to me was having a conversation with the gent behind him, I presume in their native tongue but short of knowing that it wasn’t English or one of the main Romanic languages, I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess as to precisely which dialect they were using. The big guy was happy enough when leaning forward and chatting this way, but he didn’t like the interjections from the Bus Arsehole – and it wasn’t hard to fathom why. She sat behind me, tutting loudly every time they spoke, and making a point of doing so in such a way that they would notice her disgruntlement.

The guy next to me was very affable, and starting talking to the woman in English – apologetically, for reasons I will come to. Whenever those two spoke, the big guy sat back into his seat, his demeanour changing and his engagement in social interaction replaced with the kind of scowl that suggests you will have the fuck knocked out of you if you even looked at him.

“Yous should talk in English,” the woman told the guy sitting diagonally in front of her (and next to me.) I bit my tongue and didn’t point out that we have our own recognisably distinct version of English – Scots – which made her remark a little hypocritical. Instead, I listened as the guy next to me apologised profusely and tried to explain why they were talking in their own language – as if it somehow needed justified to this inebriated stranger.

“Yous should speak English, so’s that other people know what yous urr saying,” she said. That was the moment when I joined in, siding with the guy next to me. “Mate, it’s none of her fucking business what you’re saying, don’t apologise!” Technically I had been doing as she wanted to – listening in to something that didn’t involve me – but since I was in such close proximity there was no way I could have reasonably been expected to have avoided it.

“Whit you sayin’ tae it?” she demanded of me, refocusing her attention and launching into a tirade of personal abuse, to which I responded by calling her an Earywigging Bastard. The big guy sat there next to her, stony-faced and saying nothing, and the man next to me continued to try and humbly defuse the situation. I wasn’t rising to it though, I can handle myself well enough against verbal abuse from drunk arseholes, and especially in my home city. Could you imagine that she would go to some far-off country with a friend then speak in that country’s native language and not her own? No.

I stayed calm and ignored her, and a few stops later when it was time to get off the bus I embraced the “Goodwill To All Men” spirit of the season. As I got out of my seat and headed towards the door, I turned and said to her – cheerfully, with a warm smile, and knowing it would probably wind her up even more, me being something of a wind-up merchant – “Have a good Christmas.”

“Have a good Christmas?!” she asked, as if that was the biggest insult she had ever taken. If she answered back to that, I didn’t hear it as I had already stepped off the bus. I have never experienced anything like that before or since, someone being so blatantly rude, arrogant, and nosey – “talk in my language so I can understand what you are saying.” Fuck off, it’s none of your business! Arseholes like that bring this city down.

 

A week later, I was in the town meeting a few friends and acquaintances and – small world that it is – the guy who had been sitting next to me was working in the pub we went to. We remembered each other, and shared an acknolwedgement of where from and a brief hello. I haven’t seen him since, but I hope he no longer excuses himself for holding private conversations in whichever language he sees fit.

 

 


Dubious Claims To Fame – 7 (Continued)

After I wrote about my encounter with magician Paul Daniels in a previous blog, I went online as usual and posted the link to my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

By chance – and, after all, it is chance that has led to most of the stories that comprise the blog entries here – my friend Ross was online at that very moment, for the first time in months. He is a former Young Magician Of The Year, if I remember correctly, and so I linked him to the blog. He read it, enjoyed it, and asked if he could share the link with…Paul Daniels.

I agreed without hesitation, and before I knew it the link had been retweeted by the man himself. More people viewed this blog that day than have before or since – thanks Paul!

Ross had also emailed Paul directly, and forwarded me this reply: “Thank him for me please. I laughed out loud even at the bits that didn’t apply to me. Nice one. PD”

That’s pretty cool, that he read it, reposted the link, and took the time to reply. So now I have an even more dubious claim to fame involving the nation’s one-time favourite magician. 🙂


Feels Like Karma.

This is another one of those strange inexplicable coincidences of the type that inspired me to start this blog. I think you can read too much into things, and find parallels between anything if you look hard enough (which is how a lot of comedy is structured), but this particular one is too similar for me to instantly dismiss.

On Sunday night, I was in Utrecht (Holland) at a music festival and wanted to see Peter Hook’s headline set. As mentioned in the previous blog, my friend wasn’t keen on joining me, to say the very least. She eventually relented and came in with me, albeit grudgingly, when I asked her to do so as a favour because I wanted her company. She hated the band, and found them thoroughly depressing, but by chance we were joined by friends and towards the end of the gig she had cheered up enough to stay for the after-party and ultimately had a good night.

We flew home on Monday, and another friend texted me shortly after I’d landed. I realised she would be finishing work presently, and asked if she wanted to go for a drink. She couldn’t, but reminded me there was a pub quiz on at 9pm, and told me I should join her at that. I wasn’t convinced – it was a long weekend, which started with no sleep and wasn’t particularly restful (a fact, not a complaint). My overwhelming desire was to head home, get some food, and pass out on the couch. She told me she would like me to be there.

I’d asked someone to forgo an evening she wanted to spend relaxing in the hotel so that I could have her company. The very next night, a friend was asking me to forgo a relaxing evening at home so that she could have mine. That’s a pretty definite parallel in my mind, and since I do try to be a good friend, and being very aware that my friend’s presence at the gig had meant a lot to me – again explained in the previous blog – I agreed to reciprocate. I took the world’s longest bus journey, dumped my luggage, changed my boots, grabbed some food and headed back out the door. Tired, but knowing it was the right thing to do.

Thing is, it worked out quite well – we lost the pub quiz (we came second), but did successfully play Beat The Safe. One of our pooled tickets was picked from the hat, and of the two remaining combinations available my friend’s pal blindly picked the right one – winning us the £225 contained within. A three-way split meant we each walked out the pub seventy-five quid better off.

I’m not sure if I believe in karma, or that “what goes around comes around”, but it’s things like this that make me think there might be something in it. I’m going to keep repaying favours.

 

 


A Little Luck And A Lottery Result.

The main reason that I believe life is absurd, accept it as such, and just embrace it, is that there are so many examples of things that are inexplicable any other way, things that can’t easily be defined within the confines of our collective knowledge. I’m not talking about things to which we attribute meaning either – the phone rings just as you’re thinking about the person on the other end: that’s because we discount all the times that the phone rings and we aren‘t thinking about the person who has made the call. I see as absurd the almighty coincidences that are much harder to explain away, like the one I’m going to document here.

I play the lottery (a term I use to also include the EuroMillions game) on occasion, maybe three or four times a year. As someone who studied and enjoyed studying maths at school, and who remembers when the lottery first started and when – as an exercise in fourth year – we were shown how to mathematically prove the much-publicised assertion that the odds of winning were fourteen million to one, I am fully aware of the futility of my playing pattern. Specifically, I remember learning about probability, and the chances of (for example) rolling any given sequence of numbers on a die – the odds increase with every roll. So the chances of me picking the winning combination of numbers – already astronomically high – are magnified significantly by the chance of me then also choosing the right week to actually play those numbers. If I changed my numbers too, that would further increase the odds of ever winning. So far, to nobody’s surprise (least of all my own), I have won nothing – literally nothing.

The numbers I play are usually consistent, save for the difference in draws – six numbers for the original game, five and two stars for the EuroMillions game. Usually, because every now and then I forget which combination I play – the past few times I’ve played as a main number one that is also a star, and so I could play it there and add in the omitted sixth number from the regular game. I only realised this recently. All of my numbers relate to birthdays of two members of my family – days, shared month, years – and one additional number which I chose for reasons I can’t remember, but which relates vaguely to the house I grew up in. There wasn’t a great deal of thought went into my numbers – I didn’t want to think then over-think my choices – and I never actually checked the year of birth of my Grandma, just guessed at what I thought it might be. I was wrong.

At a family meal on Sunday, my sister asked my dad what age my Grandma had been when she died. This reminded me, prompting me to ask what year she had been born. He thinks it was 1922, making my rough guess two years out.

When I was at the supermarket on Tuesday, I passed the lottery desk on my way out the store, then doubled back on a whim and put a line on – changing that one number. Later that night, I got three numbers came up in the draw, and won just over a fiver.

This is just one small example in a lifetime of other occurrences, equally freakish – in all the years I’ve played the wrong number, I haven’t won a thing. The week I change it accordingly, I win something. There’s probably some rational explanation in the grand scheme of things, but at this level we’ve no way of knowing what that might be – easier to just take it in stride. And hope for a bigger win next time.


Time Is Money, And Tattoos.

Life is absurd. Statement of fact. I called my blog this because there are so many incidences that are beyond the realms of comprehension, it is easier to just embrace the fact that crazy things happen all the time, rather than try to fully understand them. Here is one such coincidence, which has flummoxed me. Some background information is required.

A few months ago, I decided on a whim to finally investigate getting my first ever tattoo. I figure now I’m 30, the folly of youth is somewhere behind me. Trevor, the drummer in my favourite band, Combichrist, is a tattoo artist, and I asked him to quote me a price to get some work done on their forthcoming UK tour. His fee of $150/hour in cash, while not particularly unreasonable when you consider his portfolio and his standing, was sufficiently off-putting for someone with only an idea and no real money. Even with a favourable exchange rate, I’d need the cash (as opposed to credit card) and have to pay commission. Then consider that I have no idea how labour-intensive a tattoo is, how quickly it can be done, or in fact very much at all about the actual procedure involved. All I know for certain is that I want my first tattoo to hold meaning, and I’m extremely relieved that at no point in my twenties did this desire for a tattoo manifest itself this strongly – otherwise I might be permanently inked with the name of a band I no longer listen to.

Caught up in the idea, I immediately set about thinking of something appropriate but simple – filled with meaning, but achievable within an hour-long session. The Combi logo seems hack, and I realise now that I don’t want to be marked with the name of a band who look set to become huge – fine for the first few years, and then you look like you jumped on the very bandwagon you helped start rolling. I decided instead, in a sudden epiphany, that my first tattoo should involve the word “Glasgow” – my home for the past eight years, and when I moved here I discovered that I was always a Glaswegian, I’d just been trapped in Hamilton for 22 years. In describing this choice of tattoo, I would say: I’m a part of it, and it’s a huge part of me. I combined some Google image searches, and quickly came up with something I liked.

My closest and most trusted friend is a girl I have known for the entirety of our adult lives, and last night in the course of sending her an email I mentioned, for the first time, this notion that had taken me some months back. It didn’t relate to the rest of our conversation, apart from me saying that I’ve just booked up to see Combi four times on this tour, and neither of us is tattooed (which surprises many), but as she is my barometer of good/shit I ran my design past her. Her response, condensed, is that I should re-think the border I have chosen, and replace it with something that holds significant meaning. “I don’t think your tattoo design is finished yet would be my concluding remark if I was to make one which I have in fact just done.”

I realised, lying in bed reading this at 4am, that she is right. This is partly why we are friends and why I run things past her. I had hastily created this design and then chose the best of five similar ones I threw together one afternoon. Sure, the actual name of this city is as significant as any one place can be in a man’s life, but the rest of it came from what was at hand at that particular time, drawn from half a dozen pages of search results. There is still two months until the tour, plenty of time to plan further the artwork I want indelibly drawn on me, and although I am happy with the result generated so far, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is finished or doesn’t require additional work. Even though it isn’t financially viable right now, and though I did some research and came up with a few designs, one of which I like a lot, there’s still the possibility of creating something even better. All of which might be blindingly obvious to some of you, but which I was obviously blind to. That’s the thought I fell asleep to, tattoos and Glasgow and the resolution to put further thought into my design and make it truly personal.

**************************************************************************************************

Tonight, I finally got round to putting away some of the stuff that I dug out of boxes last week, stuff that has been in storage at my dad’s since I moved out of my first Glasgow flat – long-lost treasures like my craft materials, black kilt socks, and a hip flask. I put this last item in the drawer with my other good-but-scarcely-used items, among the neckties, the kilt socks and pins, the other hip flask, the cufflinks, and the watch I’ve never worn. It was a present from my youngest sister, sometime when she was still working in a jewellers, but I’d stopped wearing a watch at that point as I didn’t like having the extra weight on my wrist and used my phone to tell the time. It has sat in various drawers all of the years since, during which time the battery has gradually died. As you do when confronted with some rarely-seen item of clothing or jewellery, I took it out and put it on, noticing that it could do with having a link or two removed and contemplating whether I have the skills and the tools for the job. Idly trying to wind it, I removed the plastic display insert from the box, looking for the instructions to confirm the method of setting the time. I don’t really want to break a watch that is as pristine as a watch can be. What I found was so unexpected that I have no explanation for it, and when I phoned my sister to ask her if she can tell me more, she can’t even remember ever giving me a watch.

“Are you sure it was her gave you it?” asked another friend. I am certain – I don’t own an abundance of jewellery, and I remember precisely how I acquired that little which I have: a watch for my 21st, which I chose and which has been broken for years and no longer has the metal strap attached; this watch my sister gave me, year unknown; my grandpa’s wedding ring, the replacement for the one he lost in the Mediterranean Sea; a gold chain that was my 18th birthday present, and which hasn’t been worn in over a decade; and a pair of cufflinks which my dad gave me in anticipation of my need for them at my sister’s wedding. That’s it. And at no point do I remember secreting money in any of them.

When I lifted out the plastic insert, there was a flap in the bottom of it with thick folded paper – I presumed instructions – inside. It came as a surprise to find that it is actually $130 US dollars in ten-dollar bills. I have no recollection of hiding money in there, and I have only been to America twice – in summer 2005 and February 2006. Both times, I took Travellers Cheques and only a handful of notes. The cheques were slipped inside the covers of various books I had taken with me, stored with my passport, and generally kept in a few different locations. Some were in my suitcase, some in my wallet, some in my backpack – all sound hiding places, and ensuring that it would take extremely bad luck to leave me without anything. When I did run short of money, towards the end of my ten-day stint in NYC in 2006, I figured I had spent more than intended or had done some poor accounting. In 2009, when I had moved into and from six flats, and finally unpacked all my boxes of books, I found an uncashed Travellers Cheque inside the back cover of the novel I had been reading at the time. I certainly can’t explain this wad of notes in the watch box.

For a start, it’s a watch I have never worn, and so I can’t imagine why I would have taken it on a transatlantic journey. The plastic insert has been sliced open, unevenly, and I am not given to destroying my belongings in such a way – if this was my chosen hiding place, I’d be far more inclined to keep it aesthetically pleasing by keeping the insert intact then folding the notes flat and hiding them under it. To damage something in otherwise excellent condition, to make uneven slits in the base instead of neatly cutting along the seams, to then secrete a bundle of notes inside it instead of keeping the notes flat – none of this strikes me as my natural choice. Then there is the fact that there are thirteen notes here, and I have explained on here previously that I have a lifelong aversion to that number. To place 13 ten-dollar bills in one place, to my mind, would be tempting fate.

I actually checked the notes against the light, looking for watermarks (which I found), but sense tells me nobody would go to such lengths to hide Monopoly money. There are only two possible explanations: 1) I put this money here for safekeeping, for reasons and in circumstances now wholly eradicated from my memory, or; 2) fuck knows. The money was hidden there by person or persons unknown on its way to, or before being returned unused to, the reputable jeweller who then sold it on? That seems implausible, and yet the rational option (that I did it) is alien to me in numerous ways. I have to accept that I will never know for certain, but there is one notable upside. Specifically, $130 dollars, in cash, is almost exactly enough to pay for a tattoo…

I would say this is really weird, this casual talking of and rethinking my tattoo (which hasn’t been spoken of in months) then suddenly finding funds for it completely by chance, because it is. But life is so overwhelmingly absurd anyway that it’s just another inexplicable coincidence to be taken in stride.

And if you ever hid 130 bucks in a watch box then lost track of it, please don’t contact me.


Dominance and Submission

I used to frequent the Cathouse Rock Club with some regularity, mostly on Friday nights and almost exclusively in 2001. One of the door staff was a girl who was instrumental in organising a coach in April of that year, which ferried a few dozen of us down to London to see the band Dimmu Borgir. We went down overnight on the Saturday, spent the Sunday hanging around Camden market and Soho (my first times in either place), and then went to the gig. It was a five-band bill, and the notable other act was Lacuna Coil. In Flames, Nevermore, and Susperia all played too – this was at a time when Dimmu and other bands of their ilk would only play one UK date, in London. Tours including Scottish shows wouldn’t happen for another few years. After the gig, we all piled back onto the bus and came home – this assorted motley crew of metalheads, many of whom were only acquaintances to me, and a handful of whom I still remain in (vague) touch with. I’m writing this precisely eleven years, to the day, after it happened.

A year or so went by, when I happened to bump into Lolly – the former bouncer – in a pub. Although I knew she had left their employ, in a bid to make polite conversation I asked if she was still working at the Catty. Her answer has stuck with me, as it’s about as memorable as an answer can be – “No, I’m working as a dominatrix now. There’s nothing like the feeling of earning seventy quid an hour while a grown man is on his knees crying as he’s sucking your strap-on.”

About a year after that, long after we’d lost whatever basic touch we were ever in, my workmates showed me a centrefold in the Daily Record – it documented a fetish wedding conducted in Gretna Green. They were ribbing me for it, doing that ignorant thing of lumping metal fans (me), goths, and fetishists into one easy-to-categorise group based on the visible attributes of black clothing, band shirts, piercings, and tattoos. What they didn’t expect was for me to look at the accompanying photograph and say “I fucking know her!”

Last night, I found out that a Polish friend is working in Glasgow as a dominatrix. She mentioned her boss, and I said “Is she called Lolly, did she used to work in the Cathouse, and was her wedding featured in the newspaper?” I didn’t expect the answer to be yes. It’s a small world – but then again I suppose the market for making grown men cry while paying to be on their knees and sucking a strap-on is pretty niche.