I’ve wanted to write about my hometown for ages. Like most Dundonians, I’m intensely proud of the place. It’s not got the romance of Edinburgh or Inverness. It’s not got the friendly reputation of Glasgow or the oil money of Aberdeen. In fact ask anyone outside the town what they think and they are likely to turn their nose up at it. Or back off in fear. As well they should. But ask a Dundonian and we’ll tell you another story. A story of how the light is perfect, of the way the river reflects sunsets in glorious colours. We’ll tell you of people who know hard work and hardship. We’ll tell you about the strong, fierce women who bind the city and its families together.
So, I’ve set the WIP (provisionally entitled The Lucky Weasel) in Dundee during the referendum of 2014 and this is the first in a series of short posts about the locations that come up in the novel.
The action opens in Mennies, also known as the Speedwell Bar, on the Perth Road. It’s one of my favourite Dundee places. Good beer, good punters, and scampi fries. The pint of eighty I had on my last visit home still haunts my dreams with its silky loveliness. The bar’s website describes it as “one of the finest examples of an Edwardian Bar embracing all that was good in pub architecture at the beginning of the twentieth century.” Which is a fancy way of saying its affy bonny. It makes a great location to set a book in, too. With a main bar, a couple of lounges and the world’s smallest ladies bathroom there’s plenty scope. Add in a magic weasel and the scene is set for a heist of Royal proportions:
No one noticed when Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth the Second walked in the side door of the Speedwell Bar and stole the Lucky Weasel. No one but me. And I wasn’t about to stop her. Not yet at least. So I just watched from the booth I’d managed to commandeer on this busy Saturday night as she leapt neatly over the gantry, sidled along the bar past Gary, stuck with his arm out pouring a pint, to where the weasel sat behind the gin. She tucked the beast in the folds of her cloak, throwing me a saucy wink before disappearing back out the side door. But not before she downed Iain Cunningham’s pint. I wasn’t sure this wouldn’t cause the bigger scandal.
Unfortunately, I made the legend behind the Weasel up. There’s no Weasel behind the gin. I checked. But maybe her Madge really did get it.