Monday, March 17, 2014

Burnishing days

Mr Ramsay could climb the rope just with
his hands. It was a wee bit like showing
off. I would love to have done it. He 
had his legs straight together at one side 
and sloping out. The rope went through his
wrists and his hands different, just like
his wrists jutting out. How did he do it?
He did not show us how. He just walked back
to his seat and looked at his book. Boys
were talking about it in the changing room.
Ye needed strong muscles to climb that way.
Mr Ramsay's arms were like that. I tried to
do it but it was right enough how yer arms
were no strong enough. But maybe I was fast-

The best thing was the swimming.
Except it was Monday morning, so
after ye got it ye had all the 
whole week to come and ye were going to be at school, it was just agony.
In the scheme I was a good swimmer and a fast racer with Mitch and the  boys. But here at school I was slow, I was no even a real swimmer. It was just like I was starting. Boys done it different. No them all but just
some, posh ones. Donald Shields especially. He was just the best racer ever. He done the butter-fly. I never seen anybody do it except on television. I tried it, I could not. I only done four strokes then that was that. But Donald shields just done it. We all were looking. Oh that is smashing. Oh jees oh he is great ..

                 Monday morning and it was all 
                 to come, all just horribleness. 
                 People talked on the bus but I 
                 did not, just looked out the win-
                 dow. My pals were at their own 
                 school. Here I did not have any 
                 pals. I did not care. I did not 
                 want any. One day I would not be 


  So Kieron was a Pape's
  name. I did not care. I
  did not care about my name.
  If people said Kieron and
  gave a wee look, well that
  was just them. One was one,
  then the other one. That was
  just me, that was what I           thought.

James Kelman's books are controversial
among critics and judges, who sometimes
award them a Man Booker or a Whitbread
Prize, and sometimes a good sharp chop
at The Guardian. On St Patrick's Day, I
don't think about that. I think about
Jonathan Swift's merry essay against dis-
establishing Christianity, on the ground
that it wouldn't do any good. What I mean
is, the empire has a language of such per-
fection for disintegration, it can achieve
all the separation any heart could crave.
It isn't its hegemony that rankles. 

Jonathan Swift
An Argument Against
  Abolishing Christianity
A Tale of a Tub
  and other Satires
Kathleen Williams
op. cit.

James Kelman
Kieron Smith, boy
Hamish Hamilton, 2008©

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