Clinging to our seats in the Bookmobile, Jasmine, Chris and I began our twisting, weaving drive on our Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour. With the car as our pen nib, we drew a belt of Celtic knotwork through the roundabout jungle between Edinburgh and Glasgow. At times, we even dared to defy the inflexible, unadventurous sat-nav (to hell with its flashing question mark!).
Fuelled by apples and stovies, neeps and tatties, we scribbled paths through Blantyre, East Kilbride, Rutherglen, Falkirk, Bo’ness, Kilsyth, Wishaw and Motherwell. Wherever teenagers were educated within reach of an orbital bypass, they found the Bookmobile catapulting itself into their car parks.
Seeking food and shelter at SBT’s secret headquarters, we met under the cloak of darkness with teachers and librarians. We sought the favour of the Scottish publishing clans, the Florises, the Bright Reds, the Stridents, the Bookstarts and the Barrington Stokes. They gave their blessings to our mission.
Allowing ourselves to be caught briefly on GM-TV for World Book Day, and again for North Lanarkshire Radio, we kept moving, kept ducking and diving, kept finding those schools. Alarmed teachers spread word about an Irishman who shouted at their students, who hurled abuse at them and made clumsy attempts to mimic their speech. Like some Mao Tse MacTung, he waved a notebook at them. A snowball assault failed to shut him up. On we went. No wind, nor rain, nor snow, nor dual carriageway pile-up could stop the Bookmobile’s twisting progress, until it came to a spinning, sprawling halt in Edinburgh, disgorging its dazed passengers.
The Bookmobile fell silent. The sat-nav went dark. And we looked back over the Scottish landscape at what we had done, and we saw that it was beast, nay, it was yaldy – some might even say . . . minted. Our work was done.