This is yet another cop-out blog, and it’s been prompted by three things. First, a FaceBook friend tagged me to post 7 lines, starting at the 7th line of the 7th page of my Work In Progress. I actually have three WIPs at the moment, except that the IP bit has been somewhat stalled for a while, so I chose the as yet untitled sequel to The Sparrow Conundrum. (The other 2 are a sequel to The Figurehead and what will be the last in the Carston series.) The second reason is that the character it features was born because of my curiosity about the frequent photos, again on FaceBook, featuring men with unfeasibly well arranged ridges and bumps beneath their sterna (the plural which I prefer to the equally correct sternums because it’s more pretentious). Since the main purpose of Sparrow (and its sequel) is (will be) to be funny, such a character seemed to offer clear possibilities for merriment. Finally, this may (NB MAY) serve to make me get back to writing the thing or risking being proved the fraud I secretly know I am. So there you have my reasons, and here you have the relevant introduction to the character of the Highlander Hamish Dirk.
Hamish Dirk pushed the fingers of his left hand through his thick auburn hair and leaned back against the cartwheel, his right thumb hooked into the open sporran that hung over his groin. His kilt was the red of Royal Stuart and his shirt hung open to display the traditional sculpted six-pack. His previous outfit had been a pair of Beck & Hersey Red Label jeans and they’d been slung low enough for the female behind the camera to feel a certain dampness as she clicked away. Moving to his more familiar incarnation as a Highlander did little to lessen the effect he was having on her professionalism.
Hamish Dirk wasn’t his real name, of course. His father, a stand-up comedian, had laboured unsuccessfully for years in the clubs until he decided to change his name by Deed Poll from Brendan Dilly to Brian Pharte. Almost immediately, his career took off and when his firstborn proved to be a son, he decided, generously, that he should anoint him with the same success right from the outset. Thus, the puckered, squealing, red-faced new-born was dubbed Brian Pharte Junior. It was a name which, naturally enough, made his schooldays a continuous nightmare, one further deepened by the fact that another of his dad’s legacies was an IQ which barely crept out of single figures. His academic efforts gave his put-upon teachers plenty of scope to depart from the usual ‘Satisfactory’ or ‘Could do better’ clichés and deploy their inner Wildean selves. His biology teacher wrote ‘We can only hope that no one breeds from Brian’; his English colleague remarked that ‘Intellectually, Brian would be out of his depth in a saucer’; and the careers master regretted the demographic shift from rural to urban communities because it meant there were fewer villages seeking idiots.
Then, one Saturday, the young Brian Pharte Junior made a decision that would equip him to overcome these congenital handicaps and carve out his own brand of success. He was 16 and he’d asked 14 year old Sally McKendrick to be his prom date. He knew that the likelihood of her saying yes was slim but he wasn’t really prepared when what she actually said was ‘You must be joking. Fuck off’. It hurt and in the quagmire of his brain a sequence of slow thoughts formed and led him to determine to do something to make sure it wouldn’t happen again.
So he took up weight training.
Now, eight years and thousands of press-ups, biceps curls, squat thrusts and bench presses later, Brian Pharte Junior was six feet two inches tall, weighed a sleek, shining 200 pounds and appeared frequently on the covers of novels with titles such as Bad Man at Midnight, Desire and Dirt and Lust in the Gloaming. His face wasn’t special but he had thick hair, tight pectorals and an abdomen designed for fingers to stroke, lips to kiss and various secretions to drip onto.
And, following in his dad’s footsteps, he too had changed his name. The abysmal Brian Pharte had morphed into Hamish Dirk, the envy of all who possessed a Sgian Dubh..