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Lawrence Russell

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ninety-eight and still sexually obsessed

Cut to: Atrium lounge of an upscale boutique hotel on George Square. Boswell and Johnson relax with shots of Lagavulin and Guinness chasers, watch the action.

Mondrain boogie-woogie traffic. Pigeons explode across the square, circle the statues... Watt, the inventor of the steam engine... Trocchi, inventor of the intravenous gamahuche. Pretty women cross diagonally, models in search of a runway, rehearsing for the invisible men concealed in surrounding buildings. Bagpiper in full Highland regalia marches back and forth, bleeding his lungs. The flag above City Hall at half-mast. The leader of the Scottish Assembly is dead.

J: Here's to Dewars.
B: Cheers... who's Dewars?
J: Scottish nationalist... he just croaked... that's why the flag's at half-mast.
B: Thought that wus fer Trocchi.

They chuckle.

B: Surprised how sentimental some Scots are about the past. Get a coupla oil wells, start thinking Bonnie Prince Charlie.
J: James Bond -- he's the rebel now.
B: Who -- Sean Connery?
J: He's a rebel, man.
Tha fugg he is -- he's "Sir James Bond". The Queen touched him with her sword.
J: I'm telling you he's a big time Scottish nationalist.
B: Right. That explains why he lives on the Costa del Sol.
J: Taxes, man. You know how it is.
B: Didn't Trocchi live in Spain?
J: Not long. Paris was his scene... New York... actually spent some time in Mexico... Guadalajara.
B: (groans) 'lajara... I went there fer Christmas and it snowed... can you believe that? It snowed in Guadalajara. First time in recorded history.
J: Killed the Monarch butterfly population.
B: Another time I wus there, the sewer exploded, took out a whole neighbourhood.
J: That's one thing about Glasgow -- the smell of shit is supressed.
B: One good thing, yeah.
J: Wasn't always so... when those shipyards were going, it was pure poison here.
B: Poison is money, man.
J: Notice the number of cell phones around?

Kids. Toys.
J: Weird, isn't it... today's young Scot prefers Budweisers, Bacardi Breezers, and a shaven head.
B: Bud is shit. I mean, why?
Advertising. Bud is like Rap -- cool way to be anti-social.

Boswell lights a fresh ciggie.

B: Their smokes are crap. Like the whiskey, not the smokes.
J: Trocchi -- that'd be a good name for a brand of cigarettes.
B: A Trocchi, sure. Hash blended, no doubt?
J: Cardboard filter... Pulp Fiction.
B: You ever read Trocchi?
J: Of course.
B: What's his first book?
J: Helen and Desire.
B: Any good?
J: It's crap... but you'd like it.
B: Yeah?
J: Sure. Porno. The adjectives fall like freshly pumped sperm. Wrote it in Paris for Gerodias, Olympia Press.
B: Huh... when someone tells me he writes porno for money, I gotta wonder. Must be an easier way.
J: Was a means to an end... Gerodias said he'd publish Trocchi's novel... Young Adam... a serious piece of work.
B: Jeeze, I have that. I read it.
J: It's good -- fits like Volume 1 of Cain's Book.
B: Autobiographical.
J: Define autobiography.
When a writer makes himself the subject.
J: Even when he fictionalizes?
The act of writing is an act of fiction -- you said so yourself, Doctor.

Big white billboard other side of the Square, covers the entire face of a building. Ad for the new Mercedes.

J: Christ, German cars are ugly.
B: Great engines. Can't beat a BMW.
J: Why would a Scotsman want to drive a German car?
B: Thrifty, reliable.
J: Thrifty my ass.
B: It's a Euro thing. Think Leni Riefenstahl gave Hitler a blow job?
J: I don't think anybody gave Hitler a blow job.
B: She says Goebbels wus in love with her, wanted her ass.
J: She always says that. She got another book of photos out?
B: Yeah, more African shit...
J: How old is she?
B: Ninety-eight.
J: Why she always so horny?
B: She's clean, man. No drugs.
J: You know Hess crash landed in Scotland?
B: The Nazi?
J: Hitler's Number 2. Rudolph Hess. Spent the entire war incarcerated in a British prison.
B: Ah, Rudolph. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, eh.
J: I think Leni mowed her way through all of 'em, the whole Nazi elite. I'm surprised Trocchi didn't write her up. She's exactly the kinda chick Trocchi admired. Just like Helen Smith, you know, the heroine of Helen and Desire.
B: (chuckles) Helen Schmidt.
J: Leni Schmidt.

Both men laugh, knock back their single malts.

B: "13" wus lying.
J: Yes. Small time operator.
B: No idea where Trocchi is, wus taking us fer a ride.
J: (nodding) Know what? I got this feeling.
B: Me too.
J: Trocchi is still alive.
B: You figure?
J: Think about it. All his life he hides behind aliases... "Frances Lengel", "Jean Blanche", "Carmencita de las Lunas", "Oscar Mole" --
B: Frankly, even Alexander Trocchi sounds fake to me --
J: We'll check the bars along the river.
B: Why?
J: Why not?
B: He's a river rat, right?
J: Exactly... we're not gonna find him selling lst editions of Celine and Genet in a flea market.

I'd rather speak Gaelic

Now the action becomes downright ugly. We now know who Trocchi is... and we also suspect the intentions of these two travelling bon vivants. In Denholm's, a bar near the railway bridge, they encounter a biker called "Glasgow Eddie" who directs them to the oldest bar in the city, The Scotia.

GE has a Manchu biker beard and wears iodine shades. No, he doesn't know Trocchi personally but he's heard of him. No, he doesn't mind being in a movie. Yes, he hates the English.

B: You tell me you'd rather speak Gaelic?
GE: (huskily) Yus -- ah wid.
B: You speak it?
GE: Whit ye think am speakin' noow? Hey, show us yer gun --
B: My gun?
GE: Yor packin' heat, ah I know it.
B: That's illegal... we're just a couple of tourists.
GE: Save it, man... ah know. Tell yew what -- yew show me yours, ah'll show yew mine.
B: You've got a gun?
GE: Saturday Night Special... looks like a camera.
B: Like a camera, eh.
GE: Yus -- like yours. Hi tech.

The Scotia is the lair of the buskers, street singers, various musicians and waterfront rif raff. Faces float in the smoke and shadow, like the ghosts of a clientele already dead... music in snatches as the camera wobbles like a drunk returning to his seat... Brown-Eyed Girl... Everywhere You Go Take The Weather... little cliques drinking and singing. We smell sweat, smoke and swooning liquor. Raucous laughter, the chime of cheap guitars.

Glasgow Eddie leads them to a black-haired vixen with rings in her nose, ears, and who-knows-where else. Elvira, aptly named after the TV witch.

GE: Howz about a ride, Elvira?
Elvira: (looking at the Canadians) Don't have enough gas in yer tank, sony.
GE: Couple of punters here like to talk wi' yew, o.k.?
Elvira: (waving her glass) Well fill me up...

A blind singer materializes, supported by a chorus of rivermen with pints and smoldering cigarettes. Large man, his head hangs slightly, as if depressed by the low beams of the rancid ceiling. His song is The Loneliness of the Long Distance Scotsman... lonely in London, lonely on the bridges, lonely by the river, ooohh I'm soo fookin' lonely... the rivermen echo the key lines. Soo fookin' lonely. Double-exposure with the dark waters of a river.

GE: Thaz beautiful, right?
B: This what you brought us here for?
GE: Yew don't like music?
B: We're men on a mission, buddy.
Elvira: Is it me or someone else ye want?
GE: Whaz the guy's name?
B: Trocchi.
Elvira: Is he a singer?
B: A writer... a junky writer.
Elvira: Talk to Alex Nails.
B: Who is he?
Elvira: Nails knows all the poets.
GE: Ah jest laid some new flooring for Mr. Nails.
B: Is that what you do?
GE: Aye... ah make floors flow.
B: (laughs) I thought you were a dealer.
GE: Ah make floors flow -- if yew get me drift.
B: If you'd stop speakin' fuggin Gaelic, I might.
GE: (laughs) Aw don't shoot me, man!
J: (to Elvira) Does the name Oscar Mole mean anything to you?
Elvira: Run that by me again --
J: Oscar Mole.
Elvira: Is he queer?
B: Possibly.
J: How about Frances Lengel?
Elvira: Now that sounds familiar... a transvestite, perhaps?
J: Living on a barge, maybe.
Elvira: I used to live on a barge... in London.
B: Think we're shootin' blanks here.
Elvira: You men really armed and dangerous?
B: Yeah... and gettin' more dangerous by the second.
Elvira: You got a tattoo?
B: (snorts) No.
Elvira: A man without a tattoo is a sad and dangerous thing indeed.
B: (to Johnson) Should we blow?
J: (to Elvira) They got barges on the Clyde?
Elvira: Not anymore.
B: Houseboats.
Elvira: Who knows? Try Bible John.
B: Who's Bible John?
GE: A busker... plays Buchanan Street. Disciple of Jesus.
B: Born Again?
GE: Aye.
J: Plays an electric guitar, hangs out with a chick in white?
GE: Naw, he uses kareoke, fakes it.
B: Waste of time.
Elvira: He's a sex killer.When he was a young bloke... did the dance halls, picked up women, strangled them.
GE: Wus fingered by Cracker.
B: So how come he's on the street, singing songs about Jesus?
Elvira: Weren't able to nail him.
J: A friend of Trocchi's?
Elvira: Nah... just another colorful character in the scenario...
GE:Wus profiled by Cracker... the Glasgow criminologist. Cracker said he wis the killer but the cops couldny close the evidence.
J: That's a great series...
B: Cracker? The best of the nineties.
J: So this Bible John knows Trocchi?
Elvira: Naw -- he's got a nice tattoo!

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© Lawrence Russell

Culture Court 2000