Zlobtnov Yorovonko
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FOOLS' PARADISE

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© Gavin Sinclair 2000



ZLOBTNOV YOROVONKO

By Gavin Sinclair

The subject of this month's story may be unfamiliar to some American readers, so here's a little background. Glasgow Rangers are Scotland's most famous and richest (by far) soccer team. They are known for a fine tradition of religious bigotry - for 100 years they maintained that they had never found a Catholic good enough to play for them. In recent years, they have used their vast wealth to import a succession of foreign stars in order to maintain their domination of the Scottish game. Now read onů.

   "Aye, Jimmy, I suppose I do have what you'd call a dream job."
    The manager of Rangers poured himself another hefty Bells and sat down at the kitchen table. I moved my notes  discreetly, in case he spilled this whisky too. The edge of my pad was stained a pale pungent yellow.
    "Aye, move your papers out the way, lad. Good idea."
    "I was just...."
    "I know. Don't worry. I'm no' going to waste another glass of good whisky. Are ye sure ye won't have one yerself'?"
    "No, thanks. Actually, I, ah, don't really like whisky." For some reason, this admission embarrassed me, as if I had no business sitting in this man's kitchen, not liking whisky.
    "A beer, then?" His bleary blue eyes insisted.
    "OK. Yes, please."
    He got up and walked, a little unsteadily it seemed to me, to the fridge. A can of Tennent's Lager appeared with a clunk on the table in front of me.
    "Thanks."
    "Dream job, my arse!"
    "I beg your pardon?"
    "Oh, I know. Thousands of kids all over Scotland would give their left goolie to grow up to be what I am. Well, sod the little bastards! Cigarette?"
    "What?"
    "D'ye want a fag?" He waved a pack of Marlboro in front of my face.
    "No, I mean the kids. What do you mean?"
    "You know when I started smoking?" I watched him as he lit a cigarette, drew deeply on it and let out his breath with a half-sigh. The smoke, grey as his complexion, swirled in tired circles up to the wood beams. "Two weeks ago. Now I bloody love it. Never realized what I was missing. You haven't touched your beer."

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