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PART OF THE Generations ISSUE

‘”Azzy Williams,” A say, aw confidence.’

We love to welcome fresh, new voices to Scotland’s literary scene here at BooksfromScotland, and we’re excited to read Graeme Armstrong’s debut novel, The Young Team. We hope this little taster will have you rushing to the bookshops!

 

Extract taken from The Young Team
By Graeme Armstrong
Published by Picador

 

We wander up the lane, buzzin wae the Friday Feelin, a force wae almost supernatural powers. It’s obvious that last week is on everywan’s mind. This Friday we’re gonnae join the actual troops instead ae our wee mad squad up the Mansion. We wurnae oblivious tae the main gathering’s existence before. On Friday nights before we tended tae just say ‘awright’ tae them n go on our way. It wisnae an official thing, yir just fae that area n know them aw fae school. Then yi come ae age n it’s accepted that yi hang aboot wae them n become a YT wan, oot gittin a smoke durin the week n on-it at the weekend wae the troops n the tidy burds who hang aboot anaw.

They call theirsels the YT Burds or the Team Lassies. They huv their ain enemies, the lassies who jump aboot wae other young teams. They mostly move aboot the town freely. A tidy is a tidy, after aw – regardless ae wit scheme she comes fae. There’s gorgeous scheme queens n then the loyal crazy burds that ir practically troops. They’re mad anaw n would fight wae guys as easily, n wur nae less mental. Every young team hus at least wan burd who’s a juggernaut in a tracky. She wis never a looker but yi would never say it tae her face. If yi tried tae batter in tae her mad-wae-it regardless, she would probably punch yir cunt in . . . if yir lucky.

‘Mon, Addison, ya dick,’ Broonie says. Addison is standin on the phone tae a lassie. He wis always dain this. He’s a goodlookin, trendy kinda guy – a perfume boy drenched in Ultraviolet n always wearin the best ae gear. Popular wae the lassies, hence the constant telecommunications wae them, but that doesnae earn yi the respect ae the streets.

‘A’m coming, fuck sake, Broonie.’

‘Hurry up, mate.’

We reach the top ae the park. There’s nae park really. Crash mats cover the ground round the swings n they’re littered wae black n blue blobs, where wheelie bins hud been burnt n melted. The swings huv been vandalised tae the extent that the council huv removed the chains n seats. Noo aw that’s left is the bare frames, which ir like notice boards, aw penned n tippexed like fuck. The climbin frame is spray-painted like fuck anaw. YT, scrawled aw over it n names ae ghosts fae young teams past. The place is fucked, plain n simple. The council huv long since gave up tryin tae fix it fur the weans. It, like the whole place, is forgotten.

Aw the troops sit on the other side ae a wee metal fence behind a wee shelter belt ae trees. A kin see waterproof jakits n fitbaw trackies n a mix ae Rangers n Celtic taps. There’s a few lassies laughin n we kin hear the din the rest ir makin, shoutin, singin n laughin. The elected edgy hus obviously alerted the team tae our presence. Big Kenzie, Eck n Taz appear at the front n somebody shouts, ‘Chill oot fuck, it’s only the younger wans.’ As this passes aboot the group, more heads appear fae behind the bushes n trees fur a swatch. There’s aboot twenty-five young wans congregated. Roughly fifteen guys, and aboot ten lassies. We walk through the trees the- gither, the six ae us. Our wee clan among these tribal chieftains and the eligible lassies. Wan ae the lassies is hoddin a wee MP3 speaker n switchin between ‘Dancing in the Dark’ n ‘I’ll Get Over You’. That’s the extent ae hur repertoire. ‘Fuck sake, we runnin a crèche noo, troops?’ some dafty says, gittin a laugh fae the crowd.

‘Well yir maw doesnae complain, when we aw turn up at hur door!’ A say wae a cheeky smile.

People ooh n ah, the lassies giggle, n Big Eck walks up tae me. A stand brave, still smiling. ‘YASS! You fuckin tell ’um, wee man,’ as he extends a hand. The guy who made the comment, Peter Dickson, walks forward, tryin tae growl at us. Eck slaps him across the face. ‘Sit doon, Dickson, ya fuckin dick.’ He looks ragin. ‘That’s Kenzie’s wee brur n his pals, ya dafty.’ Big Kenzie swaggers over at the mention ae his name.

‘HAW, YOOZ!’ Big Kenzie shouts, addressin the masses. ‘This is ma wee brur n his pals, nae cunt, n A mean nae cunt, gees them shite, understand?’ The crowd mutters assurances n goes back tae their own chats. Our six split n start mixin wae the troops. Eck winks at us, n him n Tam start talkin aboot an elder lassie who’s pickin them up in hur Seat Ibiza. The ages range fae us at fourteen n fifteen, right tae eighteen n nineteen. Big Kenzie n Eck ir seventeen n eighteen, respectively. They ruled the roost, but they’re aff. They both disappear, back up the red ash path n oot ae the park. Our only real friend left is Taz, but he’s distracted, tellin two lassies the tales fae last week. He waves me n Danny over tae chat.

‘Happnin, ma main wee muckers! YASS, these ir the boays A wis tellin yi aboot, ladies.’ The two lassies turn n smile at us. They’re both a couple ae year elder than us. A recognise the two ae them fae our bit. The first is tall fur a lassie, aboot five eight. She’s a brunette, wae fair highlights runnin through hur straightened hair. Hur long legs ir standin crossed against the cold. She’s git on a red puffer jakit, wae ripped, faded jeans. Hur face is gorgeous, high cheek bones n big green eyes. She’s git on the perfect amount ae make-up. Most lassies caked themselves in the stuff, their necks generally a different colour fae their faces. They huv that plasticky look, like somebody’s moulded them fae plasticine n smoothed oot the edges. Monica Mason is a stunner, nae denyin it. She’s git the kinda face yi turned back tae look at but she doesnae pure know it.

Guys around the other ir like flies around shite. Patricia Lewis always hus a wee entourage ae admirers buzzin around hur, usually the tap men n everyone else fallin in behind. Big blue eyes, natural platinum blonde, big boobs n slim. She’s git big hoop earrings n a cheek piercing. There’s a millimetre gap between hur two front teeth. Underneath an Inter Milan tracksuit top, there’s the green n white hoops ae a Celtic fitbaw tap. She’s wearin white Adidas tracky bottoms n wee pink Lacoste trainers. Hur lip gloss is pink and glittery. The two ae them pass a half bottle ae Glen’s vodka between them straight, then take a swig ae Irn-Bru tae git the taste away. A laugh as Monica screws hur face up. Patricia hands hur a draw ae a Lambert & Butler, which obviously helps. The two ae them look up at us. Patricia glares wae hur usual scowl, but smiles n winks. Monica gees us a wee cheeky smile anaw. Yolt. ‘Wit’s yir name then, wee man?’ Patricia asks us.

‘Azzy Williams,’ A say, aw confidence.

DJ Pulse, ‘Poison’, is playin oot wan ae their phones.

‘Nice tae meet yi, Azzy Williams,’ Monica says.

‘A’m Danny fuckin Stevenson – the wan n only.’ Two ae them laugh. He bounces away steamin tae talk tae another burd.

‘You one of the young wans that punched fuck out ae Big Si?’

‘Aye, fuck. We backed Taz right up n aw that.’

‘So yi mad then?’ Patricia asks us. This time A wink. Monica giggles. Patricia gees us the sexy scowl, like she’s kiddin on she doesnae fancy us a wee bit. A kin hear Danny talkin tae another wee burd behind me, Emma Black, huvin a similar convo aboot last week’s antics. A turn roon tae see him nippin her, two ae them standin under a tree. The lassies follow ma look n both laugh.

‘You hopin fur a kiss the night, son?’ Patricia says.

‘Ah never say never n aw that!’ A say, wae Monica catchin ma eye. She looks doon ever so slightly, n gees us this mad look.

 

The Young Team by Graeme Armstrong is published by Picador, priced £14.99.

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