Date: 5th April 2021
The latest blog from SFSA writer Donald Stewart:
“Aye but how?”
Picture the scene…
Someone has arrived at the terminus for the Bournemouth to Glasgow bus. He has met with the Glaswegian driver in charge. He is about begin his return journey back “up the road.” The bus driver is trying to get his head round what the passenger is trying to say to him.
In Glasgow, how is meant as what, but here he has a man who doesn’t seem to understand that.
At the other side of the screen, that someone, Mr. Howe, is getting increasingly confused. After all, he thinks, he is used to dealing with people where English is their second language, how difficult can it be up north? But he cannot get his head round why it is that he is bamboozled by a man who looks like English is at least one of his languages.
Behind him, the wee guy, who claims he was sent by his future employers, and who claims he has been sent to coach him, on the coach, is waiting his turn to appear. He has told Mr. Howe that he may not be the brightest, hence they wanted to keep things simple by coaching on the coach. But wee guy can see where this is going…
Finally, he tries to get between Mr. Howe and the screen to take over but Mr. Howe is not one to shirk a challenge.
Mr. Howe decides to try again. “Howe is my name.” This puzzles the bus driver. Why would he want to know his name? He looks puzzled.
Mr. Howe decides he needs to try and make it clearer. He starts to speak slowly. He thought this worked really well with all the foreigners he worked with. “My… name…. is… Mr…. Howe…”
Mr. Howe thinks he has found a breakthrough.
The bus driver looks even more puzzled. He asks again, “How?”
Mr. Howe nods, thinking that this might help things. The driver, realising that his question is unlikely to be answered realises that there is someone behind him. The man behind catches his eye and manages to say, “Aw right pal? Ah’m wi the big man here.” It is a highly convincing performance and the grey beard and eyes with which you should never argue are making their presence felt.
Mr. Howe suddenly realises that this must be the Gaelic that people had warned him about as he steps to one side and his advisor, the one there to coach on the coach manages to make contact properly with the driver. The driver heaves a big sigh and says, “Got ye! Ah wis tryin tae get ma heid roun why the big yin wanted twa tickets when ah could oanly see yin o ye!”
The driver prints out two tickets. Mr. Howe takes them and walks onto the bus to find a seat. The wee guy looks at the bus driver and says, “Sorry, ah’ve been asked tae take him up the road and tae be honest ah’m no lookin forward tae it.” The bus driver sympathises, “Gonnae be a lang journey wee man.”
The wee man nods. He then looks to see that Mr. Howe has taken his seat right at the back, like a kid on a school bus. He walks up the bus and sits right next to him.
Trying to work out how to start a conversation the wee man eventually stumped up with, “So, yer ehm reference was good.” Mr. Howe smiles. The wee man continues. “I didn’t realise you knew Mr. Sutton.” Mr. Howe smiles again.
The gap in silence was all that the wee man was getting, so he tried to go further. “Mr. Sutton was quite the statesman in his reference.” Mr. Howe looks puzzled. “Churchillian.” Explains the wee man. His beard twinkling in the morning sun as they are now well on in the journey. The motorway is passing them by, and it won’t be long before they have their first scheduled stop.
Mr. Howe smiles once more. But there is something not right. He starts to wonder why he is taking the bus. Up until now he had never given it much thought. When the wee guy turned up at his house with two tickets, he just thought it was to do with the COVID thing. He knew there were different rules in Scotland, maybe this was one of them.
“I mean,” continues the wee man. Mr. Howe breaks his reverie. “He did say he was concerned.” Mr. Howe frowns at this. Ho too, now has concerns. There is something not right about this whole thing
“He talked about how you might have all the tools, but you have been out of a job for a while. Absolutely baffling.”
Mr. Howe frowns again and starts to have a rethink.
“But you are hungry. I mean really hungry. You are young. Organised and I am sure you can handle yourself.”
Mr. Howe wonders where this is going.
“You will need all of that. Big job, this. I mean not one that you cannot handle but it is huge. As in mega huge. Total different kettle of fish to what you are used to and intense pressure. As in intense, intense pressure.”
Doubt has begun to creep into Mr. Howe and his singular, organised mind.
“You do know, don’t you, that the other guys will still be there. I mean no clean sweep. But you have the tools. According to Mr. Sutton, you have. Don’t you?”
Now Mr. Howe is beginning to feel that creeping doubt become more and more prevalent. He is beginning to feel fear, he wonders if his companion can feel his fear.
The stuttering conversation has now managed to get them to the first stop and whilst the wee man is in getting his cappuccino to go, Mr. Howe is on the phone in the car park. The thirty minute break at the service station, with very few people there makes it all the more obvious when a car draws into the car park and Mr. Howe gets into it.
Getting back on the bus, the bus driver, smiles at the wee man who drops his Scots accent and returns to his more familiar brogue. “All right, straight on up the road, there big man.”
The driver, incredulous that as he is the secretary of the Keano Travel Bus, would be asked by the very man to help him out replies, “Sure thing Mr. Keane, sure thing.”
Whilst the author asserts his right to this as an original tale, there is no evidence that a certain Mr. Keane has ever been on a bus, so this is clearly untrue though a certain Chris Sutton did utter some of these words in a verbal joust with Ally McCoist this week.
During the week, Chris Sutton heralded Eddie Howe as THE man to take Celtic forward in a speech that left Ally McCoist making fun at his rabble rousing and call to arms as described it as Churchillian!
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