Date: 24th May 2020
The latest piece from Donald Stewart:
It was barbecue weather and Chris is hosting. Ally, The Greatest Ever Barbecuer is due round – well, I say round… There is fence mending to be done between these close neighbours as words have been spoken over who won best bloom at the local flower show… And it being in the midst of a global pandemic they shall meet across the broken fence between them.
Picture the scene…
It is mid lockdown and the self said fence sits between Mr Sutton and Mr McCoist, neighbours of the well to do suburb of Talkintosh on the outskirts of Glasgow with Mr Sutton, in a fetching green bordered pinny with a Beam Me Up Scotty motif in brown across it.
He is deep in concentration as he turns his sausages for the fiftieth time, trying to get the right colour on them; for these two colours are everything. Burgers are next, the marinade sitting next to them in a glass cup bought, as was the brush with which he is basting them, from ASDA but carried home in a NEXT bag to fool the neighbours.
Mr McCoist, resplendent in a blue, white and red blazer leaves his back door and walks down the 40 foot path to where the fence has a dip, broken for longer than the pair can remember. With a socially distant barbecue in the offing, some decent grub likely and an opportunity to send barbs and vital knowledge across to a man he clearly thinks bitter, twisted and wrong, he could not resist.
As he gets closer to the agreed meeting point, he notices the gathering clouds realising that when Mr Sutton had lit the barbecue the sun had been splitting the trees. Mr McCoist, now in his Barbed jacket, can see the way the wind is blowing and has dressed for the gale. Mr Sutton is impervious.
“A drink?” Mr Sutton was first with the offer as Mr McCoist arrived at the agreed spot on his side of the fence. Mr McCoist lifted his Blue Curacao to show that he had already imbibed. Mr Sutton smiled rakishly thinking, “How can anyone drink that muck?” as he picks up his Chateau Briand 1996 from ALDI to toast.
“Nice night for it.” Mr McCoist’s riposte is good. It is now a nice night but it will not be a nice night for long. With a back catalogue of Question of Sport sitting poised on Sky Q, McCoist is beginning to wish he had stayed in front of the TV as the wind gets up.
Mr Sutton, aware that something has been said that is not to his advantage but not sure what it was that was not to his advantage but very clear that his advantage has not been served, nods and thinks of a reply. He fails to find one so moves the conversation on.
“So… We meet again…” Just before the thunder, lightning and rain descend, he thinks before deciding that he needs to raise THAT topic.
“So, Ally, you still think you would have beaten me?” He had hoped it was a simple question, asked almost innocently, perhaps even able to have a simple reply and then for it to be all over. But Sutton could not resist the raising of his eyebrows and a quirky smirk, knowing it was likely to be a little too much.
McCoist began graciously. “I shall grant that you had some decent flowers this year. Good blooms. They flowered just in time a month before the end of the competition. Your French flower, what was it?”
Taking the compliment, Sutton was happy to confirm the name and property of his precious front runner, “The Edourdia.”
“Yes,” continued McCoist. “But let’s be honest, pretty to look at, some might say strong and healthy up front but really nothing more than a daisy. There was still time for us to catch you.”
Sutton smarts. His Edouardia had taken time to cultivate, surrounded by rich Scottish soil that had given his new bloom much to convert he believed it to have been the star of the year by the end of it. He responded in kind, “It was much better than that Colombian thing you had.”
Aware as he was of the limits that the Colombian species of Magnolia, the Morelios, which flowered at times too early, was too angry looking, grew out puce in colour when it needed to be soft and effective, the barb hit home.
“We had depth.”
“So, did we. May I remind you, that we were 13 full points in front of you.”
“MAY I, REMIND YOU, THAT YOU HAD ONE MORE FLOWER JUDGED THAN ME!”
Sutton’s face betrayed the shock at the volume of his neighbour and McCoist realised that he needed to tone it down. And he did. “Chris, the show was not at an end.”
“Ally, there was no other way of calling this. This pandemic is too much of a risk to try and finish it all off. This is my ninth annual success in a row.”
It was too much for McCoist. “Could we have caught you? Absolutely!”
Sutton flings down his barbecue tongues, the sausages jump up in the air as he bangs the tray, the hamburgers scatter to the four corners of the garden with his fists banging the table. The marinade doesn’t move. It has marmite in it and marmite moves for no man.
“I think you have been on the Bucky, haven’t you? I don’t know what you’re talking about. You just don’t want to admit it, that we have had the better flowers. I mean, what planet are you on? Really?” He waits not for a reply. “What the hell happened in Dubai?”
McCoist’s holiday, mid season had been much talked about and whilst away he had become lazy, not tended his garden as well as he ought to have, the result was that when he came back much of it was ill functioning and not flowering when and how it was expected. He had no answer. His gaping mouth was an invitation to Sutton who was now in full flow, “There should be exclamation marks about that Magnolia, the shape it was in after the winter break you took.”
McCoist felt he had to reply. “My family won that award 54 times! 54! Nobody in the world can match that!”
“Should your family have 54 titles? In the first year way back in 1890-91, your family and that mob from Dumbarton shared it, didn’t they? But the family from Dumbarton had seven more flowers in the mix than yours did! It went to a play-off between the two best of blooms but the title was shared. It was a draw! Maybe, you can’t claim that MANY!!! It ended a draw so that one can’t count! Or do you just think my titles should be questioned?”
“Your ninth is tainted,” claimed McCoist.
“No, yours is,” countered Sutton.
McCoist is about to let rip when the heavens open and down comes the threatened rain. Both stand for a minute facing off until each has a sensible spouse who calls them both in. They have appeared at the back door at the same time, knowing of the feud, the fruitlessness of the meeting and the dangers of barbecuing in Scotland in May, but hoping they can intervene and get the two auld eejits back in before it gets too loud.
The boys are now looked in.
Knowing that to turn and walk away would be a sign of weakness, they both refuse to move, standing stock still glowering each at the other… After a few minutes both spouses smile at each other over the fence between them, shake their heads and close the doors to the patios.
As far as we are aware both Mr McCoist and Mr Sutton may still be there to this day…
Whilst the author asserts his right to this as an almost original tale, any similarities to persons real or imagined are deliberate. However as none of the aforementioned pundits and former players have ever, as far as he is aware, ever entered a flower show competition, nor have their spouses ever called them auld or eejits, this is clearly fictional and never actual happened, though some of the words that appear have been attributed to their respective speakers.
The fact is that during the week Chris Sutton suggested that when Ally McCoist had said he thought Rangers would have narrowed the 13 point gap on Celtic and caught them that he must have been on the Buckie. He then made a comparison to the very first Scottish football title in the late 19thCentury which was settled by a play off that was a draw between Rangers and Dumbarton and therefore the claim that Rangers have won 54 titles might not be accurate in itself.
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