“SPEED demons of Bearsden!” I’d shout. With partial humour and full exasperation.

Romantic interludes were ruined by them – wine cork popped, Dr Hook album paused on Spotify. A mood sabotaged by engine revving and tyre screeching on Bearsden Road. Ear-splitting racers sent the wine upward, windmilling through the air like liquid will-o’-the-wisp. Not so much coitus interruptus as coitus impossibilism.

We lived on debatable land. A delineation hotly disputed. Bearsden Road lies a quarter mile from the Bearsden border. Checkpoints were erected to determine eligibility to enter the burgh. I was turned back for wearing shorts so old they were described as “the sartorial equivalent of the Turin Shroud.”

After a brief hiatus we’re back on the border. And so are the speed demons. Now noisier and deadlier.

Deadly because, being on a health kick, I’m restricted to a diet of biodegradable grapes. This means a two mile walk for cut-price fruit from a brand name I cannot advertise. On slim pavements adjacent to icy roads, cars race perilously close to calamity. Whooshing past with no regard to my safety, or their own.

On these walks I view debris. Wheels and cones indicating crashes. A chill enters my bones. Chills not caused by weather conditions.

My neighbour, Rebecca, a veterinary student, instructs me to avoid the road and, “Cut through the Vet campus.”

I obeyed. A pleasant jaunt until confronted by a sign affixed a large barn: “WARNING! Horses stabled here.” Safe from vehicles I could, instead, be trampled to death by rampaging horses?

Even in this grove of Academe, petrol heads have free rein. The campus rugby field transmogrified into a drag race track. Blasts of torture tracks from mumble rapper Stormzy echoing in the fading light.

Incongruously one car has a laughing Buddha strapped to the grille. A spiritual symbol of silence signifying audible carnage.

I got caught in the rain this week. A downpour Gene Kelly wouldn’t sing in. An elderly gentleman stood braving the traffic: binoculars round his neck, damp hair stuck to his face like bootlaces. He resembled a windswept Bill Haley – my dad’s musical icon.

We fell into socially distanced shouting.

“Birdwatcher?” I yelled.


“Word botcher? Don’t the boy racers bother you?”


“Can’t the authorities fix it?”

“Politicians? I wouldn’t believe the lord’s prayer from their mouths.”

“Sure. But the police must act?”

The Polizia? They’re all dummies in search of a ventriliquist’s knee. I should know, son. I was Chief Constable of Thames Valley.”

“Thank you for your service.” I mumbled.

He said something else, but a speed demon drowned him out.

He couldn’t drown out my dismay. In fact, he inflamed it.

I’m angry at the violence they perpetrate against themselves. Anger at the pain and sorrow they’ll bring their parents if they sacrifice their young lives for speed.

Parents. Take their keys and throw them in the River Kelvin. Drive the cars in there too, for all I give a damn.

It might just save their life.

Brian McGeachan is an author and playwright. His books include They Rose Again and The Cardinal. His plays include Twisted and The Johnny Thomson Story