A Working Class State of Mind

PART OF THE Our Favourite Things ISSUE

‘Growing up where ah’m fae oor social status wis based upon how well you could fight or kick a baw. No exactly the criteria fur becomin the nixt Prime Minister or CEO ae a fortune five hunner company, is it?’

Colin Burnett is an exciting new voice in Scottish fiction, and his debut collection of short stories, A Working Class State of Mind, starring Aldo, along with his friends Dougie and Craig, is garnering a lot of attention, and rightly so. Resolutely working class in culture and language, Colin’s stories seek to represent the lived and spoken experience of Leithers with honesty, authenticity and dark humour as well as the grit it takes to persevere through hard times.


Extract taken from A Working Class State of Mind
By Colin Burnett
Published by Leamington Books


Honestly, av goat tae laugh. Ah mean, how hus it came tae this, eh? There’s been nae Queensbury Rules involved in ma fight tae survive, that’s fur fuckin sure. Aye, the man upstairs has shot fae the hips and done a right number oan me. Yin minute it’s yur sweet sixteen, the juices rushing tae yur baws, andreline pumping through yur veins, and the world seems like a tidy hing jist waitin fur yae tae fuck her. God, ah wis fuckin fearless back in the day; ah hud such dreams. Then, suttin happens, suttin Nostradamus couldnae huve seen cumin; yur life flashes by ye at internet speed. The next hing yae ken, yur starin doon the double barrel ae thirty years ae pain and disappointment. Aw, yur still a pup, ah kin tell; yuv still goat that fire in yur belly, that hunger tae dae suttin wae yur life. Gee it time, it will comm tae yae as well, the flies will become that bit quicker, the shelfs that bit further awey, and if yur lucky, some cunt like me will come along tae stand oan yae and it’s aw oor very quick. At least that wey you’re spared the heartache ae finding oot life’s jist yin big fuckin joke oan gadgies like us.

Aw, dinnae worry, nae harm will come tae yae by ma hand. You’ve goat character, ah like that. There’s a loat tae be said aboot character. Yae see what huv ah been tellin yae, there’s nae point in tryin tae succeed; yae jist end up lookin like a porn star wae a yin-inch dick. Kin yae hear that? That faint voice at the back ae yur mind, the yin taunting yae and laughing at yur every failure. The yin whispering intae yur ear that yur nae gid tae nae cunt. Git yaist tae it because it’s only goantae git louder and before you’ll ken it, you’ve foond yur next best pal.

Ah live in the sixth richest nation in the world. And yit, ah kin hear Susan Boyle singing fae the rooftoaps, and tae tell yae the truth, ah’m even half expecting that Irish boay fae the telly tae turn up at the door wae bloody Pudsey the Bear in tow. Aw, what’s his name again? Looks like Gandalf fae Lord ae the Rings, only efter he’s contracted an STD. What’s his bloody name again? Oh, aye, Bob Geldof, that’s him. Aye, that’s the boay. Mean, ah hink he wis actually oan the telly last week campaigning tae save a distressed-looking tree or summit. Yae see, aroond here, it’s no the courts ae law or the politicians who keep the peace; it’s the drugs. Picture this scene: each morning ah awake fae ma coma, then ah sit oan ma patio chairs because ah cannae afford a decent couch. Ah sit there wae ma bowl ae Coco Pops whilst ah watch shows that kin only be described as propaganda against the working class. Ah mean, jist the other day, there wis this boay oan Jeremey Kyle who wis convinced his cat wis the anti-Christ. It wis summit tae dae wae the cat sitting oan his phone and dialling 666. Ah guess it’s true what they say aboot every litter. What’s the alternative? Change the channel and listen tae a graduate ae Hogwarts annoonce tae the nation that seeing me droon in poverty hus jist became a national priority. Either choice is hardly a substitute fur intellectual capital. Growing up where ah’m fae oor social status wis based upon how well you could fight or kick a baw. No exactly the criteria fur becomin the nixt Prime Minister or CEO ae a fortune five hunner company, is it?

Mean, the only hing ah’ve goat ae any value is this tattered-lookin watch ma granda left me. Ma mate Fraser is intae aw they antiques shows oan the telly. The way the cunt goes oan, you’d hink he’s a curator at the British Museum and no oan remand fur robbin a couple ae posh stately hames. Ma mobile starts ringing oaf the hook at aboot half seven at night. As soon as ah answered the phone, Fraser starts tae yell doon the line, “Bawbag, yur a fuckin millionaire.” Ma first thought wis he must be back dain acid or summit, so ah hung up the phone oan him. Aboot a half oor later, ah hear bangin oan ma door. It wis yin ae they polis knocks, ken? The yins that aboot take the door oaf at the bloody hinges. Fraser comes chargin in aw oot ae breath and gaspin fur air and then mutters, “Yur granda’s watch, it’s worth a million quid. Ah seen the exact same yin oan the Antiques Roadshow the night.” At first ah thought he wis fuckin wae me, but once ah could see his pupils wur still dilated, it started tae hit me he wisnae taking the piss efter aw.

We were baith wettin oorselves at the thoat ae aw that money. First hing the next morning, we made a few calls tae git a jeweller tae value the watch. Oan aboot the fifth call ah made, we wur put in touch wae an expert ae watches who hud a jeweller’s oan Princess Street. This wis yin ae they place’s posh cunts go tae git their dicks up. Ah mean, it hud maire bling than Mr T. As we stood ootside the building, Fraser eloquently took this opportunity tae remind me ae his claim tae a share ae the money: “Aye, childhood pal, and remember it wis me who telt yae aboot the fuckin hing. And dinnae furget ah peyed yae back that tenner. That’s a hunner grand ae any rich cunt’s money.”

Ah couldnae believe ma ears; ah stood there wae three quid in shrapnel jinglin aboot in ma pocket, and this cunt wants a hunner grand oaf me. This boay dressed in a tuxedo and bowtie who looked as if he wis waitn fur a bell tae ring to go and wipe his masters erse greeted us in reception. Ah could see by the glare in the boay’s eyes he wisnae used tae cummin acroass two rough and tumble boays like us in his line ae work. He directed us intae his office and started tae appraise the hing, and efter aboot a couple ae minutes he telt us suttin we should huv kent aw along: it wis worth a pittance. The colour fae oor faces drained awey, along wae oor hopes ae a wey oot ae this fishbowl we caw a life. Dinnae git me wrong, if ah had hud the energy, ah would huv taken Fraser tae the roof ae the buildin tae throw him oaf and then halled him back up fur an encore. The way that cunt hud been goin oan, we wur aboot tae dae a deal wae Sotheby’s. Instead, ah find oot av goat a watch that ah need tae git sum unsuspecting celebrity tae wear then shoot thum oan the spot jist tae git its value up past the eighty quid mark. Poverty does that tae yae. It isnae jist a word fur politicians tae throw aboot tae git oor vote; it’s an illness ae the mind, boady, and soul.

Ah foond this half-empty boatle ae Smirnoff vodka ma mate hud left behind fae last weekend. Efter pouring masself a gless, ah raise it tae make a toast tae ma new companion, “This is fur you, little yin. Cheers.” Aye, but again, the wee man faws shoart. He’ll learn, he’ll see. Ah wis yince like him, a fighter. Now ah’m jist tired and ah feel sick at hert. That’s the hing aboot dreams and aspirations. They’re jist a fairytale story wur telt by oor parents. A fuckin make-believe idea that gees us hope that hings will git better. An idea that a naeboady kin become a someboady yin day, that David did beat Goliath. The truth is the maire you try tae reach fur the stars, the closer you become tae reachin fur the boattle. It’s like when wur bairns wur telt tae be gid and Santa Claus will bring us loatsae presents. It’s a beautiful idea, but there comes a point when we realise wuv been had. Aw it takes is fur some smart erse tae come along and tell us Santa’s no real. Then oor hale world is flipped upside doon. That’s what dreams and aspirations are in life, it’s aw yin big fuckin Santa Claus. Ah’ve realised summit likes, and that is that guys like me and the spider kin chase oor dreams, but we’ll never make it. In the end, fuck Santa Claus.


A Working Class State of Mind by Colin Burnett is published by Leamington Books, priced £9.99.

Share this


A Working Class State of Mind click A Working Class State of Mind

‘Growing up where ah’m fae oor social status wis based upon how well you could fight or kick a baw. …


Duck Feet click Duck Feet

‘Ah can jist see it noo … ma designer Arran cardigans wid be aw the rage.’