Fair Means Or Fowl?

In Greece, the sound of breaking plates can be seen as a joyous occasion, marking the end of a great meal or occasion or perhaps even seeing someone off into the next world with spirit and gusto. In Dennistoun, the sound of plates smashing off walls and floors is a sign of not such a happy occasion.

“What do you mean you’ve no got a turkey?” was asked for the fourth time but unsurprisingly, Jamie Morton was unable to pluck an answer or a turkey out of thin air in the few seconds that had passed since last being asked. As you would expect from an East-end kid born and raised, Jamie has pulled out a few tricks and stunts in his time but maybe he was getting old or too many people were following the same tactics because his magic touch appeared to have went walkabouts.

Games of skill and luck within The Duke Bar, Dennistoun

Games of skill and luck within The Duke Bar, Dennistoun

The original turkey money was sitting in the puggies in The Duke Bar whereas the second lot of money, acquired by shifting some second hand books down the Barras, had been volleying back and forth between himself and Mr W. Hill for the past few days. A late goal may have ruined Arsene Wenger’s Christmas but that equaliser was enough to salvage Jamie’s….or so he thought as he raced from the bookies to the local supermarket.

Aldi’s had all the tat and trimmings you could ever have wanted but the freezer cabinet for the turkeys was as barren as the souls of the folk who swung with the Krankies. Not a scrap of turkey meat was to be found in the shop and if Jamie thought he got a cold shoulder by rooting through the other freezer cabinets, it would be nothing compared to the one he would experience if he went home without a turkey. It was only his wife and her spinster sister Dianne for Christmas dinner but there would be hell to pay if they were was no turkey for the table.

To tell you the truth, Jamie didn’t really like Christmas dinner. He felt the turkey was always too dry, the gravy too runny, the potatoes too salty and the Brussels sprouts…well, did anyone really like them? Perhaps this was the time to break the tradition? Chicken was white meat which would surely do the job for the big day? There were even the other options of a three bird roast or perhaps goose, surely all of these options would be fair enough. Jamie was kidding himself on though, there was no way his darling Mary would settle for anything less than turkey at Christmas…unless, yes, a plan had been formed.

The Trials and Tribulations of the Aldi queue

The Trials and Tribulations of the Aldi queue

The queues at Aldi were anything but fun; one underpaid and pissed off student sat behind the till as 14 people wait in line to ring their cider through. A few bottles of wine had been picked up alongside four packs of skinless chicken breast with Jamie pocketing enough money to have a few shots on the electronic horse racing later on. The festive tinsel draped off the conveyer belt only seemed to reinforce the depressing nature of the store but at this price, Jamie was full of the joys…there was only one final step needed and he would be home free.

Heading up the road, Jamie popped into the Dukie Butchers where his mate Terry could be found behind the counter. “Alright Terry ya git, hows the butcher business at the moment?” “Chocker mate, chocker…what you in for, you always say our stuff is too dear, are you splashing out for the missus as a Christmas treat?”

The two men shared a laugh at the absurdity of that before Jamie outlined the problems in finding a turkey and of his solution. “So you think you can help me mate?” “Let me get this clear Jamie…you want me to slice up all that chicken you bought in another store and then maybe throw in some scraggy ends of turkey meat in an attempt to hoodwink Mary into thinking you bought a turkey? To be honest mate, I’d like to say this is the first time I’ve been asked this…but you know what it likes round here…leave it with me mate – you still getting they dodgy cigarettes shipped in from France?”

“Next shipment mid-January, put you down for a couple of cartons for your trouble?”

Dennistoun's Finest Selection of Duty Free Tobacco

Dennistoun's Finest Selection of Duty Free Tobacco

A wink is as good as a handshake in these quarters and inside a few minutes, the job was done and Jamie was on the home straight. Mary was surprised but nonetheless delighted at the sight of the Dukie Butchers bag, so much so, that she never examined the meat too closely. “And you got it sliced already for me? You’re a wee gem darling, that’ll save me some time on Christmas Day. You get into the living room and get your feet up with a beer my love.”

All was well in the house and it seemed that on the night before Christmas, nothing was stirring until a chap at the door interrupted the lazy slumber. It was Sheena from next door and Jamie was half-dozing as the two women gassed….they’ll be there all night thought Jamie, which made the slamming of a front door a minute later all the more surprising.

“Get into this kitchen Jamie. NOWWW!” was more piercing than any alarm call but it was the sight of a dish on the kitchen table with turkey meat that properly woke him up.

“That was Sheena fae next door giving me some extra turkey meat…she said she saw you in Aldi’s rooting through the turkey cabinet but then buying some chicken.”

That bloody besom thought Jamie, you cannae fart in Dennistoun without someone pulling you up for the smell…how did he ever think he was going to get away with it? “You see Mary…it was sold out…but what it was, aye, I bought the chicken fae Aldi’s but I then swapped it at Dukies for some turkey.”

“Is this still 2011 then Jamie or have you built a wee time machine taking us back to the ages when you had to bloody barter with shopkeepers? And even if you did, why would a butcher be happy to accept chicken for his turkey?”

“He mibbe sold out of chicken…”

CRASH…..A mug flew by Jamie’s ear and smashed off the wall, kicking off the greatest assault of China since the collapse of the Qing Dynasty. Jamie wasn’t an expert in that collapse but he knew when his arse was about to collapse and Mary was not to be reasoned with when she was in this mood. You cannae kid a kidder and as skilled as Jamie was in the art of deception, he was no match for his missus. Still, she’ll love that perfume she’s getting in the morning and there was a set of china plates doon the Barras that would be the perfect New Year gift for Mary. That was as if Jamie lasted that long though and as another plate was thrown in his general direction, he thinks his best bet would have been DUCK!!!!!!


Here’s some more Glasgow Christmas Stories:
Glasgow Christmas Story
Into The Valley