I rode your bike in Glasgow’s Viccy park. Age 41. A vintage Raleigh Chopper ’69 banana yellow.
A classic. The unmistakable hum of the tyres on the path. With the wind in my hair, I celebrated you.
Drunks on a bench shouted: 'Is that a Chopper? Gonna gies a shot!' Enchanted and animated they were, as I whizzed by shouting: 'Aye!' while grinning like a loon. They cheered, celebrating their past. 'Oh man, I always wanted wan o’ them - gies a backie at least, hen!' I hear the trail of his voice as he stands and salutes me with his Carlsberg Special.
Rainy day in the kitchen at no. 72, years before. It’s bright and hot and the steam runs down the window as Mammie cooks and complains of bikes in her wee kitchen, pedals in her sink. There’s a familiar aroma of home-made soup and Brasso as we shine, shine them mudguards, till they gleam in that warm home light.
My wee Chipper bike, and your Chopper. I gaze upon it with adoration, and a sprinkle of impatience, as it leans against the kitchen bunker and you run the cloth over the chain with a look of: 'It’s OK, dinnae fret. I’m off to college soon and this beauty will be yours. And I’ll visit!' You showed me how to polish, you showed me how to shine. Brother where did you go? Why did you go?
'Let my blood be a seed of freedom, and the sign that hope will soon be a reality' - Oscar Romero.
I’ve come to clear your house.
Your bed looks so tiny and abandoned in the room. His photo above it, stuck on with a couple of dods of Blu Tac. A few books, full ashtrays, a lone tooth-brush.
'And where was he, that day, your God!' I shout into the room.
Romero looks sad as I gently take him down off the wall and put him in my pocket.
Where was your God that day? Waiting. Waiting on you arriving.
You so wanted to leave.
Davey done a cracking job of restoring the bike. We’d taken it out of the skip you’d put it in (why?) and he’d taken it back to Glasgow. Specially ordered new tyres with the classic red line in the middle. Shiny new mudguards, polished seat, the gear-box still perfection and the paintwork touched up. It looked majestic.
After the Chopper’s Viccy Park re-birth, Davey asked if it could go on tour to be part of Dundee Rep’s stage production of Sunshine on Leith.
So, it did. You’d have bloody loved that.
Gently brake…and stop.