Kirkland Street, 1981

by Sue Reid Sexton

We had bring-your-own-instrument parties in our tatty condemned flats, which meant if you’d got a biscuit tin and a stick you were welcome; the booze was understood, and the blow, but you were welcome anyway if you came with the right heart and mind. Real musical instruments gained more respect of course, Paul’s bassoon, Sue’s flute if she was brave enough, Andy’s guitar, Hugh’s moothie, a penny whistle, all great, but dried peas in a jar or slapped knees would do, table edges or the door jamb, fine. There was the occasional electric guitar, a bass with amp, but electricity cost money and we were poor as house mice. The meter would die and someone would keep the beat banging on the cooling metal heater ‘til fifty pence was found; money was common property on which we pounced mercilessly for topping up the excitement with cider or Buckfast from the corner shop. Sometimes even the door jambs were full, no surface left to bang, no floor to squat on. The music would wander aimlessly, bucking and hiccoughing like a young heifer, but always, somewhere, a moment of clarity, all hands on deck, all glances met, two flutes entwined, two voices humming, the unity of a beautiful anarchy of sound.


Sue Reid Sexton, who lives in Glasgow, is the author of four novels. (The latest is about a woman who keeps her husband's body in the house long after he is dead. It is not autobiographical.)