Friday, 10 June 2011

Silence Of The Bams.


Hullo ma wee blog,

{A wee tale of less than political correctness - and swearing}

I'm just sitting minding my own business perched none too comfortably on a hospital waiting room chair reading a book and well......I'm waiting. Hospitals make you do that don't they?. They never seem to run to any discernable timescale that I've ever come across and Accident and Emergency Depts are even less connected to time than other parts of the health service in my experience , which thankfully isn't enormous if I have to be absolutely truthful. Don't worry by the way,  it's not me that's injured - apart from having a numb bum that is - it's a pal who has just recently - 48 hrs ago - had a 2nd operation on his leg which was injured and supposedly repaired more than a year ago. As you can tell, the first operation doesn't seem to have been a success so they had another go and we've just been sent here straight from our local doctors surgery where he'd gone to complain of increasing pain in his newly re-operated-on leg. The doctor had a quick look, gave a very concerned look then sent us straight to A+E with a note that probably says "You better have a look at this because it doesn't seem quite right!"

So, for what seems like a couple of hours, we've been sitting here being reminded that time can pass exceedingly slowly, especially when you're in pain. Just as my buddy twists to try and find a more comfortable position for what seems like the hundredth time, a nurse - who looks like she's about ten years too young and a couple of feet too short for the green scrubs she is dressed in - comes in and calls out his name. Lurching to his feet with an intake of breath and a grimace, he makes to follow the wee slip of a lass who has just proven that although tempis might not fugit in hospitals, nurses - no matter how short - certainly do because she's disappeared just as fast as she appeared in the first place. As I watch him hobble off  after her I hope it's not going to be too long before he's been seen and comes back with a fix for whatever is causing him the pain. As the thoughts pass across my brain I notice the double doors to the seating area slide open and a new arrival make his entrance.

Coming around the curving barrier designed to stop our fine Scottish weather from inflicting even more injury to the poor souls waiting in the A+E Dept, I see a man in his mid twenties, slightly smaller than medium height, thin to the point of anorexia. I see too he's what's colloquially called a 'jakey' around here. This helpful accreditation of social status is marked by his dirty white trainers, cheap, stained, grey and white tracksuit in some thin to the point of surreal, shiny material. Its a cheap look, which he thoughtfully emphasises by having his neck weighed down by what are probably fake gold chains and that always-essential-for-the-well-dressed-jakey-about-town,  the de-rigeur headgear of an oddly skewed baseball cap aimed to show he's a quirky, happy-go-lucky-carefree-kind-of-guy which is firmly clamped down onto lank, greasy brown hair. But this isn't just a case of 'the clothes maketh the man',  not that his baseball cap doesn't also fetchingly match the once-upon-a-time whiteness of the items arrayed below it.  Partly too it's that his teeth are ruined by drugs and his fingers are the colour of tobacco, he's got a face like a ferret who's just been hit by a bus and sneaky eyes that could laugh one minute and turn without warning the next. Even smiling like he is you can't help but take a dislike to the guy. He's the kind of nutter that, no matter how much you try and shrink into yourself or pray that he'll pick somewhere else, will invariably come and sit beside you on any mode of public transport. The kind without awareness of anything or anyone outside his own alcohol or drug fuelled existence and his own wants and needs at this particular moment. This one is the brand of Jakey that elicits an almost audible sigh of relief from your fellow travellers on the bus or train when they realise it's you and not them singled out for the treat that's no doubt about to be unleashed on your senses if your lucky and your person if your not.

He moves slowly through the seating area with an exagerated care which at first almost seems endearing and thoughtful until you realise it's the correctness of someone who is going to fall over if all his concentration isn't used to make sure that his feet are placed correctly and he minds his balance. As he slowly weaves through the seating area and feet are withdrawn from his path to help him on his way, he comes towards me and my fellows in waiting at the end of the room followed no doubt by the best wishes of those he's just passed by. As he comes, passing close by someone, he glances at them, smiling and happy within his own wee, perfect, narcotically skewed world. He is a Jakey's Jakey. A Jakey of near perfect Jakeyness. But is that all he is?  As he gets closer I'm not doubting for a second that we're all going to find out. Perhaps that is a Jakey's true purpose in life. To validate your own paltry existence by coming and buggering it up every once in a while. Perhaps his right to free expression is enshrined in the European Court Of Human Rights legislation. Jakeys of the world unite! I shudder. Why me???

"Hiya!" His words probably sound ok in his own mind  but come whining out over loud and heavily, oddly niaive, childish and creepily cheerful. Some people ignore him, some give self conscious or wary smiles in return. His high volume "Hullo Doll!" to a pretty young woman makes her shrink back and protectively pull away an injured limb from his advance. He sways, staggers and almost does a pirhouette before ending up hanging over someone else at an incredible angle before righting himself. Gravity defied by narcotic induced suppleness.

"Aww, fur F***k's sake man", he says out loud. "Nearly landed oan ma f***in' erse there. Ya f****in numpty ye!"

He giggles and teeters on towards us as I feel my hackles rise but luckily he stops about ten feet away and drops heavily onto a seat next to a very studious looking middle aged man who has a large, improvised and quite bloodstained bandage wrapped around his head and over one eye. Blood has dripped down onto a very neat sportsjacket and a nice tie.The impact of Jakey's arrival has sent shock waves of pain through him but  'Jakey' seems completely oblivious to the man, who is probably quite grateful as it gives him the chance to return the favour by ignoring him too and trying to refocus and zone out the pain again. Watching the poor man's discomfort I realise I'm doing that ' thank God it's not me' routine in my head and feel guilty.

 'Jakey' begins to fumble in his pockets. One at a time they are turned out showing an amazing amount of stuff can be carried in sportswear, most of it highly inappropriate; cigarettes, matches, lighters, a tobacco pouch, a can of irn bru. Where the hell is he keeping all of that stuff? He continues to pull out small pouches of what may be white powder or tablets, careful not to be too obvious about it but too far gone to realise everyone can see what he's doing. Out comes a bar of chocolate and a packet of condoms. I mentally congratulate him for his contribution to a resposible society on the condoms until I realise that they are probably for another purpose entirely.  As each pocket is emptied and thoroughly examined only to come up short of what he is looking for, he makes small noises; "Naw"  "Nup"  "Nu-hu"  "Aww fur f***k's sake"  until eventually he finds what he has been looking for and holds up a state of the art mobile phone like he is offering some treasure to The Virgin Mary. "There ye are ya wee f****in beauty!"
He presses the 'on' button of a piece of kit I could only dream of owning, ignoring the large poster just behind his head which has a red circle with a mobile phone crossed out and the words 'NO MOBILE PHONES' in large red letters underneath it and agressively thumps in numbers. He puts it to his ear.
"Where the **** are you? You were supposed to f****in' meet me ya wee f****in'  B*****d

I squirm. I don't know how much of this I can take.

There's a moment or two of extended 'conversation' from this muppet to the obviously equally chemically retarded individual on the other end. It's completely littered with the same effin and jeffin I've already heard and is being held at about double any kind of volume that could be described as appropriate. My tolerance threshold is getting nearer when a wee old lady dressed in an immaculate purple jacket and skirt suit - my mother would have called it a 'combination' - her face carefully made up below an equally well turned out hairdo leans forward and says firmly but politely, "Excuse me son!"

There's no response other than a turning away by the Jakey so, as he's out of reach and she seems too frail to get up, she lifts her walking stick and reaches out, pointing it towards him........

Oh, Please....don't.

She pokes him in the thigh with the tip of it...........REALLY HARD.

Aw no......

Even before she's had the chance to say anything he's whirled around ready for action, experienced no doubt from dozens of drunken, drugged up tussles. I can't sit back if he's going to give her abuse. Aw bugger!

 "WHIT THE F*** ?????

It comes to me that this is the bit where we'll find out if he's just a Jakey or if he's a Bam.  A simple jakey is low down the pecking order of nutters and is a drunk or a junkie, a bit troubled and a bit of a chancer, untrustworthy, often a bit of a character and sometimes a problem, but usually they can be dealt with by reason or just bravado.  Sometimes Jakeys aspire to be Bams but a Bam is really a different beast. The problem with Bams is that there are different kinds and you never quite know what kind of Bam you've got until the last moment. Low grade Bams can be aggressive but mostly verbal. The kind that shout and swear and might do a bit of facing up but normally wont go any further. Medium grade Bams will be aggressive and will have a go with fists and feet if they think they have a chance or maybe have some pals looking on. A true Bam will have a go regardless of odds or any other consideration. Not nice to meet. The very worst is the Uber-Bam. He'll go off pretty much without any kind of provocation and will probably come equipped for any eventuality, maybe with a knife, Scottish weapon of choice and inner city heritage. We do like our traditions us Scots. You dont want to meet a true Bam or an Uber-bam under any circumstances, unless maybe you're a policeman with a stab vest and an angry man team behind you. Escape routes should always be considered before tackling any kind of Bam. Herds of Bams should be avoided as should lone female Bams, especially in the breeding season which runs from Jan 1st to Dec 31st. Bams are trouble at any time but especially after dark, it's as if they go a bit loopy when the moon's out or something. Even what appears to be a single Bam can have companions or worse - relatives - lurking nearby. Bams can be unstable in other ways too. You never know what's going to trigger them or how quickly it's going to happen. It's kind of a 'light the blue touch paper and run' thing, but you don't know where the lighter is, how long the fuse or where your escape hatch might be.

The very worst thing about Bams is they come in all shapes and sizes. You simply never know.

None of this goes  fully through my mind as I watch the little old lady stab the Jakey with the end of her walking stick. I'd probably best try and protect her honour by stepping in front of the Jakey and turning to give her a bit of a talk about not treating people like that before turning on him as his protector to point out that he'd brought it on himself, maybe the phone should be used outside etc etc. Kind of reverse psychology or cowardice depending on your point of view really, but I'm not over proud when it comes to potential self-preservation.

Just as I press down on the arms of the chair to launch myself up a large figure leans forward from his chair to insert himself into the frame. He speaks with an incredible level of threat in his voice.

" She said ye shouldny be usin' yer f***in' phone in here. There's a f****in' great sign behind yer heid ya **** ye! An ahm f***in' sayin' that if ye dinnae pit that f****in' phone away ah'll f***in' stuff it right up yer f***in' a***. Now shut the f*** up and crawl away the f*** back intae yer flea ridden junkie hovel ya smelly **** ye. RIGHT!"

The jakey winces and seems to shrink. {I don't blame him} "Aye aw right big man. Nae problem. Ah didnae see the sign like." The phone disappears and Jakey sits carefully back in his chair. A moment later the man leans forward  to the Jakey again.

"HAW YOU!. Are you still here? Ah thought ah f***in' telt you tae f***in'  f*** off? Ah'm no f***in' gonny tell ye again."

He leans back and looks at the old lady.
"Aw right ma?"
She smiles and nods and they both sit back. An absolute hush lies over the room.

 I sit back too.

 Now that.......

That's a Bam.

Jakey gets up and with a remarkably improved sense of balance leaves the A+E dept. Just outside the door a taxi is dropping a passenger and he climbs straight in and the taxi departs.

A couple of minutes more and my buddy appears at the end of the room. As I join him he smiles and says, "Awright?"

"Absolutely fine mate, absolutely fine. Shall we go?"

I'll ask him how he's doing when we're in the car.

See you later.

This felt appropriate for the story.

10 comments:

dbs said...

Wow. I could feel my hackles rising too.

Nicky said...

Oh my word! What a tale! My hackles are up too......hope your pal is doing ok. Love the post title too, hehe~

TwistedScottishBastard said...

Nice one Alistair, I could almost smell the stench of rancid BO mixed with an overlay of Brut form the Jakie.
I know I'm getting older, and probably should know better, but the sight of a skewed baseball cap automatically sends my blood pressure up 10 mm. For goodness sake, what's the bloody point of it? Protecting their delicate ears from the nasty sunshine?
On our last return to the UK, we went to a large shopping mall in Dundee. It was absolutely packed with Jakies, both genders.
[JOKE:
How can you tell who's the bride at a Dundee wedding?
She's the one wearing the white shell-suit.]
I've also noticed that a sub-type of the female Jakie (the style-Jakie)likes to wear exceptionaly short skirts, so they can show of their:
a. Fat wobbly thighs
B. Mottled legs the colour of boiled ham.
C. Varicose veins
D. Anorexic sticks, stuck into dirty boots which are too big. They look like an olive tree in a pot.

I won't even mention Bams.

Down here in NZ, we don't have Jakies, we have Hoons.
We don't have Bams, we have psychopathic Maoris and 7 foot polynesian giants with a very short fuse, but gorgeous smiles.

Postman said...

A delightful and enlightening read. There's Bams all over the place! This one seems like he could be cast as a minor villain in any junkie flick or even superhero film.

Rebecca S. said...

Jeepers, what a tale! I'm glad you, your friend, and the little old lady escaped unscathed (except perhaps by bad language :) Jakeys are junkies here and Bams would be dealers, I suppose. Great story, Al!

Alistair said...

Hullo folks. Glad you liked that one - a bit of a mash-up from a couple of incidents if the truth be told. A bit different for the blog too.

The Gaelic Wife said...

I need to find a Scots-Yank dictionary. Although I could make out enough of it to know that I'll probably end up at the older lady in the purple combination with my walking stick.

Alistair said...

Hullo GW - I know what you mean. lol.

Jane said...

Brilliant post Al. I nearly fell off my chair laughing when I got to the line 'Aw right Ma?'. Could've been lifted from a script of 'Still Game'!
(Totally appreciate the serious message re scumbags too!)

Alistair said...

Ha - glad you liked it Jane. Must have just missed you when I posted the reply to the last comment too.

Have a good weekend.

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