in the early eighties after primary school i would go to my favourite auntie and wait there till my dad finished at the steelworks at 8 o clock and would come and pick me up. auntie jean had a bicycle in her hall called a raleigh silver shadow and it was ace.it was completely silver apart from a green saddle with white stitching and it always leant against the stairway, tied with a rope to the bannister. although she was not old she was very ill, and would send me for messages and errands, saying "my legs are sore paul, go to McGoverns (the chemist) and get my pills please." or " my throat is sore paul, go to McArthurs (corner shop) and get me chicken soup please." or "my stomach hurts paul, go next door to Mrs Cotton and get her to fill this hot water bottle." (i was not allowed to touch the cooker till much older). sometimes i think she did it just to keep me busy out in the fresh air.
i never rode the bike outside(and it was too big for me then anyway) so it stayed in the hall but when i would come back from the errands everytime i would pass the bike in the hall i would ring the little bell on the handlebars so she knew i was back and shout upstairs to bedridden auntie jean "hows your legs auntie jean?" ring! ring! and run in and put the messages in the green fridge or "hows your throat auntie jean" ring! ring! and run upstairs and jump up and down on her bed. and she would laugh and shout "ya wee devil". she would tell me about how she used to go to Loch Lomond on the silver shadow before she was sick, or how she would cycle to Luss for picnics or to Largs. i would use the stairs to get on the high bike and pretend i was racing round a speedtrack or chasing gangsters in black cars. looking back i think she secretly held hopes of one day being well enough again to ride the bike but she knew i liked it so she said when she was 'gone' i could have the bike as long as i used it and didnt let it sit in a dusty hallway. over the years as my aunts health deteriorated i came to associate the raleigh silver shadow with her death because she had promised it to me and the once mischeivious daily bell ringing now seemed to chime out the time i had left with my aunt. i went off the idea of having the bike.
one monday after school i returned to find the doctor leaving my aunts house. this was very strange as he normally visited her only in the mornings. i raced up the stairs to my aunt to find her sitting up in bed. she exclaimed that they had discovered what was wrong with her and that she would soon be well enough again to ride the silver shadow! the thought of me now losing my precious silver shadow filled me with rage and i grabbed the heavy lamp next to her bed and smashed her skull in, before cutting her body into bits and wrapping the pieces in bin bags tied with brown parcel tape. i deposited the body parts all around glasgow and now when i ride my silver shadow over the stoney bridge at Partick Quarry i shout out "hows your legs auntie jean?" and ring the bell. and when i zoom past the old kirk forest at Lennoxtown i shout "hows your hands auntie jean?" and ring the bell and when i clatter over the Anderson bridge at Drumchapel i shout "hows your arse ya fuckin old bag?" and ring the bell. ring! ring!