the Jag has been comprehensively shat upon by what would appear to have been a well-
coordinated flock of very large and thoroughly diarrhoeic seagulls.
The more important bad thing is that Jim is called back to Clydebank due to a family
emergency, and has to jump on a train heading south. This all blows up really quickly;
before it's really sunk in we're waving him goodbye and watching the train pull out. He's
told us he hopes to rejoin us in a couple of days, but it feels like the holiday is half ruined
This was supposed to be the great reunion, the third part of the trilogy after two much
earlier escapades. Longer ago than any of us likes to think about we drove round the
Highlands, camping and Youth Hostelling, then a few years later, when we were all liv-
ing down South we took a camper van from Faversham up to Scotland and through the
Hebrides and the Highlands. There had been talk of a boat trip as the third big hol togeth-
er, possibly on the Shannon in Ireland, maybe on the Caledonian Canal here in Scotland,
but this had been postponed when the whisky-researching wheeze had suggested itself.
(Apart from anything else, Jim and I could never agree on who should be captain if we
hired a boat; Jim claimed he should be in charge because he's piloted a boat on the Shan-
non already with Joan and the two boys, whereas I insisted that I ought to be in command
because I - thanks to my dad being a first officer in the Admiralty - had nautical blood.
My clinching argument, I was quite convinced, was that I still had one of my dad's old
peaked caps, complete with anchor and crown and all that sort of official-looking naval
stuff, and what's more it even fitted me, but for some reason this never carried the rhetor-
ical or logical weight with Jim which I thought it so obviously merited.)
Now we three are two, and while Dave is one of my very best friends and we've had
some great times together - and I'm sure we'll have a laugh over the next few days - it
simply won't be the same for either of us without Jim. There just seems to be a special
chemistry when the three of us get together.
'It's not Jim's fault, Banksie. He—'
'I'm not talking about Jim!' I shout. 'I'm talking about whatever incontinent ptero-
dactyl was responsible for this !' I gesture at the Jag's roof, bonnet, boot, windscreen and
side windows, all of which are fairly comprehensively splattered. There's even some crap
on one of the tyres' side walls. It looks like somebody's thrown half a litre of white paint
over the car from a second-floor window, then loaded up a handful of brushes with little
gobbets of green, grey and yellow matte and flicked these over the resulting ghastliness
Dave inspects the car and nods. 'Aye, it is a bit of a mess.'
'A bit of a mess?' I yelp. 'It's practically a fucking respray! I mean, look at it! What
do the fuckers eat to produce shit like this? Fucking radioactive waste?'