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I took the boys shopping, because however bizarre my life gets, I will not show my face on Sauchiehall Street on a Saturday night accompanied by two men in tracksuits.
Nathan chose khaki trousers and a button down shirt that make him look like a geeky scientist in an American film. I tried to talk him into jeans at least, but he insisted that “blue jeans” are for working on farms. Frej went for skinny black jeans and a plain white T shirt, thus proving beyond a shadow of a doubt he is in fact Scandinavian and understated style is in their DNA. He didn’t seem keen on shoes, but given that most of the places we’re going to have STDs ground into the carpet, barefoot is not an option. We’re doing impressively well communicating through gestures and charades, and it’s starting to make me wonder if the main reason I normally avoid finding men quite so distracting is that I can hear them talk.
We found some retro Brylcreem in a hipster barber shop in Finnieston for Nathan to tame his curls into submission, and he came across a tan trilby hat in a cupboard in the hallway. I’ve informed him several times it makes him look like a fanny but he won’t be dissuaded. Now that he is fully conscious and his back isn’t melting into my hands, Frej is a bit skittish about actually getting into vehicles, so despite the fact that Nathan is desperate to ride in a taxi, I make the executive decision that we’re walking into town.
It’s early for any dancing to be getting going, so I lead them into the Griffin which seems as good start as any. The horseshoe shaped bar is utterly rammed. Screeches of laughter and shouty chat fill the air and a band tunes guitars in the corner. Frej looks around with a grin as though feeling at home for the first time, and to be fair I wouldn’t put drinking beer out of skulls past many of this crowd.
Nerves prickle over me as I scan the crowd, half dying to spot a lanky ginger with bad teeth and half terrified to. Heading into his hunting ground to talk to women seemed like the obvious course of action when I announced it a few hours ago, but now that I’m here I feel daft. What exactly do I think I’m playing at thinking I can catch a murderer? I can barely catch a beach ball.
‘What about them?’ Nathan nods to a group of women, dolled up to the nines with ironed straight hair and eyelashes half a mile long. They’re crowded round one of the standing tables, boobs spilling out their tops in that sort of celebratory way I’m always in awe of. One of them is in full flow telling a story as the others taste each other’s cocktails.
I nod to Nathan. We have to start somewhere, but now we’re here I’ve no idea how exactly you go about approaching a group of strangers in the wild. I’ve fallen into conversation with random lassies a billion times, I’ve just never… targeted them, before.
But just as I’m thinking we should just give up and go home, one of them bursts out laughing and I realise it’s Nathan. The wee chancer has just wired right in there and is charming the pants off them, even in his stupid trilby hat. I catch eyes with Frej and he’s grinning. He gives a thumbs up, which even he can’t quite pull off and I need to train him out of it somehow. I’ve no idea how much, if anything, he has gathered of our plans for the evening, but he seems to have got the measure of Nathan.
I watch Nathan and his instant harem a moment, trying to picture him making Agnes giggle like that. Nope. Sorry Nathan, Morag must have acquired your eyes some other way, because I just can’t see it.
‘You lookin’ at ma burd?’ demands a voice and my heart sinks because I know what kind of roaster it is even before I turn around. Sure enough, his jeans are tight enough I can count his bawhairs. Designer shirt with the top button done up, light brown hair and that much fake tan he’s all one colour, and his pecs are so inflated they look sore. He’s about a head and shoulders shorter than Frej and his muscles look like a kid’s He Man suit next to Frej’s sinewy bulk from rowing across the North Sea. This is going to end in absolute disaster.
‘No he’s no’,’ I say in what I hope is a conciliatory tone. ‘He’s wi’ me. He’s no’ looking at any other burds.’
But unfortunately other guys are watching now so there’s no backing down for He Man. Frej grins, his eyes sparkle and he says something in his language.
‘Fuck’s he sayin’?’ demands He Man. ‘Tell him to talk right.’
According to my viking research this afternoon, Scots and the Weegie dialect were in fact heavily influenced by Old Norse, so strictly speaking it’s we talking a bastardised version of Frej’s language, but now doesn’t seem to be the time to point that out.
‘He’s on holiday. He’s no wantin’ any trouble,’ I say in the kind of soothing tone I’d use for a recently spooked horse. ‘Listen, we’ll just get out your way —‘
He Man leans back and too late I register that he’s going in for a Glasgow kiss, which is actually impressively ambitious from his height. Frej casually raises a forearm and He Man just about brains himself on it as he bounces back about three feet. He grunts, his right eye already turning purple as he registers how effortlessly Frej stopped him. Fear flickers behind his aqua contact lenses before toxic masculinity takes over and I bundle Frej out the door before things turn regrettable.
Then we’re out on Bath Street and Frej is laughing his big booming laugh, clearly keen on heading back in to flatten He Man, and Christ Almighty, do men not even grow up in a thousand years? There’s a queue of wee mammies across the road, waiting outside the Kings Theatre to see some reality TV star sing hits of Broadway or something, and we get a chorus of wolf whoops as I skelp my giant Viking sex god and yell at Nathan to shake a leg.

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