Just my luck that the royal wedding landed right in the middle of the summer holidays. I would’ve happily taken it if we’d got a skive, but it was Trades Fortnight so many of us were off school or work anyway. The wedding was covered from start to finish on TV.

I went cycling with Martin instead. He had a Grifter. I had a Racer with the handlebars turned up, which made it better for doing wheelies. We rode through the streets where many of the English lived, laughing our heads off at their streets lined with red, white and blue bunting. We rode out of town, visited the house of the Green Lady, a ghost who haunted the old estate. Martin found an object lodged in a tree that had been uprooted in a recent storm. He prodded the nest with a branch. Nothing happened. It had clearly been abandoned as no raging wasps appeared. So he peeled off one of the layers and a few corpses were revealed in the Crunchie-like interior. I brushed away the dried earth and detached the nest from the roots before carrying the trophy home.

“What the hell is that?”Dad asked.

“A wasp’s bike,” I said with a proud grin. That’s what we called them in Scotland.

“I thought so. Get that out of here afore we’re all stung to death, ya gowk.”

“There’s no wasps in it.”

“And how did ya find that out? Pokin it wi a stick?”

“Basically, aye.”

“Please tell me you’re jokin. Ya canna be that thick.”

I took my trophy down to the woods, broke it into segments and frisbeed them into the burn by the Brig Inn.

Excerpt from Countries of the World ©2010 Steven Porter


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