Give You That

al shirtBig Al is 60.

I know Big Al is 60s.

What do you mean Big Al is 60s?

You said Big Al is 60s. I know he is.

No I didn’t. I said Big Al is 60. What do you mean he’s 60s?

The shirts.

What do you mean the fucking shirts?

I didn’t say fucking shirts. I said shirts.

Don’t be so fucking pedantic.

His shirts are 60s.

I know his shirts are 60s.

So do I. So why did you tell me he’s 60s?

I didn’t you knob. I said he’s 60.

What? 60?

Yes, fucking 60!

You mean 60 years old?

Apocalypse Now!

That would explain the shirts.

I’ll give you that.

Where does he get them, by the way?

Fuck knows.

I thinks it’s America.

What? From Burt Reynolds?

I don’t think Burt Reynolds sells 60s shirts.

But he sure wears them.

Only in ‘Boogie Nights’.

But that’s set in the 70s and 80s.

OK, and other films. Like ‘Shark!’

Did he wear 60s shirts in that?

Well it was made in the 60s.

But they’re films.


So, that doesn’t mean that’s what he wears in real life.

Big Al does.

But that doesn’t mean he gets them from Burt Reynolds.

I’ll give you that.

Kev and I pause from our usual to and fro and reflect on where we have arrived. It would appear to be at some coalescence of agreement on the fact Big Al is 60 years old and wears 60s shirts. Whether those shirts come directly from Burt Reynolds would appear to be a fanciful idea, but you never know – Big Al has some esoteric suppliers for his shirts.

Do you think they’re 50s shirts?


Why unlikely?

Don’t think there was that much colour in those days.

What the fuck do you mean not that much colour? Colour is colour. It isn’t defined by a period in time.

I know colour is colour. What I mean is that much colour wasn’t fashionable in those times.

Have you ever seen 50s pop art?

What do you mean have I ever seen 50s pop art?

Forget it. I think you’re right that it wasn’t fashionable. Are we talking hippy colour?

You think Big Al is a hippy?

That’s not what I’m saying.

So what do you mean by hippy colour?

Is that what you mean by 60s?

Hippies were in the 70s.

‘Woodstock’ was in the late 60s.

I’ll give you that.

Do you think you have to take drugs to wear shirts like Big Al?

Don’t be stupid.

Do you think wearing shirts like Big Al does is like taking drugs? All that colour?

I’ll give you that.

Kev and I pause again, this time somewhat overwhelmed by the sustained agreement that has interfered with our routine. I decide to pick up my opening thread, just to see where it unravels.

As I said. Big Al is 60. That means he remembers a better Rangers.


Yes, Rangers.

As in Texas?

Why the fuck Texas?

The Texas Rangers.

What has that got to do with Big Al?

Isn’t he from Texas?

No, it’s Glasgow.

Ah, I thought he had an accent.

But he lives in Wales.

Is it a Welsh accent?

No, but it isn’t Texan either.

So, it’s Glaswegian?

Och aye the noo Jimmy.


That’s Glaswegian.

Like Steinbeck?


Like Steinbeck speaks: ‘gang aft agley’

That’s not Steinbeck you numbnut.

Yes it is. Lennie says it.

No he fucking doesn’t.

Are you sure?

It’s from a Robert Burns’ poem.

Oh yeah. I’ll give you that. What did you mean by a better Rangers?

Rangers FC. Big Al will have known of their football in better days back in the 60s.The days of three willies.

Three willies?

Yes: Willie Henderson, Willie Johnston and Willie Mathieson.

Those pricks?

I’ll give you that.

We pause again. Kev downs a Stella and I down a Jack. All this skirmishing over Big Al is thirsty work. We normally get pasted just so we can tolerate the shirts, but tonight’s cycle of conflict and resolution demands another kind of wasted indifference. But I try to salvage one last piece of coherent observation and repeat,

Big Al is 60.

So it’s his birthday?

No, he’s 60 so he’s had his birthday. Otherwise it would be Big Al is going to be 60. That’s not what I said. I said Big Al is 60.

Big Al is 60?

Yes, that’s what I said. He’s 60.

He’s not 60s?

I didn’t say he’s not 60s. I said he’s 60.

He’s 60s and he’s 60?

No, he’s 60 and he’s 60s.

Hang on, hang on. How can he be 60s?

Am I missing something?

It’s hard to imagine, considering their colour, but yes you are.

What the fuck do you mean?

His shirts.

What about his shirts?

His shirts are 60s. Big Al isn’t 60s. Big Al is 60.

I’ll give you that.

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