The Jag is a quite different car to drive after the M5, but by Clydebank I've just about
acclimatised. Clydebank is a semi-post-industrial district of high- and low-rise schemes
and mostly abandoned shipyards which was bombed heavily in the Second World War
and has picked up many more scars since. It has its pleasant areas, there's been some re-
development and Dalmuir itself is quite leafy in places, but the general area has its prob-
lem patches too: poverty, poor health and violence, much of it drug-related.
Substances: the usual disclaimer .
[As ever, what we call drug-related violence is really drug-prohibition-related violence,
and the drug which is by far the most commonly associated directly with violence is al-
cohol. In the - hopefully unlikely - event you sincerely believe that our current drug laws
are mostly fairly sensible but just not applied with sufficient stringency, please feel free,
of course, to ignore this paragraph, as it has some connection to common sense and there-
fore does not remotely concern you.]
The drive up Loch Lomond side, across Rannoch Moor and through Glencoe is necessar-
ily a little more sedate than it would have been in the BMW, but the Jag can pick up its
skirts and make an overtaking dash when it needs to all the same, and the engine sounds
great when it's gunned, like a Tyrannosaurus fart sampled and played back at 960 b.p.m.
Standard overtaking technique is to drop out of overdrive and plant the right foot. It's an
electrically switched overdrive unit so you're not supposed to need to declutch when en-
gaging or disengaging, but I always do, in deference to the Jag's age.
Corners with lots of white paint are usually taken out of overdrive too, just to get
the car better balanced on its rear suspension under power (in the M5 you'd just breeze
through on a constant throttle opening with nary a thought. This is one of the most no-
ticeable effects of a really fast car asked to tackle ordinary roads at a relative dawdle; the
corners seem to disappear and the road effectively becomes one long straight - blimey,
at legal speeds the M5 probably thinks there are only about three bends in the whole of
The three of us know this route well, but from Loch Lomond onwards it's still breath-
'Nice lake, eh, Banksie?' Jim says.
'Yeah yeah yeah, very fucking funny.'
I moved to London from Gourock at the very end of 1979 and started work as Law
Costs Draughtsman in April of 1980. For the first few months I stayed at Dave's flat in
Belsize Road. He'd been the first of the people I knew in Greenock to move down to Lon-
don - I was about the third or fourth - but eventually it seemed like almost everybody I'd
known back in Inverclyde was living in London. Jim moved down a year or so after me.