Delighted to be the second stop on The Man Who Loved Islands which is out now on kindle and available to pre order in paperback from Amazon.

The Disco Boys and THE Band are BACK … In the early 80s, Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller were inseparable; childhood friends and fledgling business associates. Now, both are depressed and lonely, and they haven’t spoken to each other in more than ten years. A bizarre opportunity to honour the memory of someone close to both of them presents itself, if only they can forgive … and forget. With the help of the deluded Max Mojo and the faithful Hamish May, can they pull off the impossible, and reunite the legendary Ayrshire band, The Miraculous Vespas, for a one-off Music Festival – The Big Bang – on a remote, uninhabited Scottish island. Absurdly funny, deeply moving and utterly human, The Man Who Loves Islands is an unforgettable finale to the Disco Days trilogy – a modern classic pumped full of music and middle-aged madness, written from the heart and pen of one of Scotland’s finest new voices. ‘Crucially Ross’s novel succeeds in balancing light and dark, in that it can leap smoothly from brutal social realism to laugh-out-loud humour within a few sentences. It is a triumphant debut novel, which announces a real new talent on the Scottish literary scene’ Press and Journal • ‘More than just a nostalgic recreation of the author’s youth, it’s a compassionate, affecting story of a family in crisis at a time of upheaval and transformation, when disco wasn’t the only thing whose days were numbered’ – Herald Scotland • ‘By turn hilarious and heart-breaking, more than anything Ross creates beautifully rounded characters full of humanity and perhaps most of all, hope. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It s rude, keenly observed and candidly down to earth’ The Scotsman • ‘If you lived through the early Eighties this book is essential. If you didn’t it’s simply a brilliant debut novel’ John Niven FOR FANS OF Irvine Welsh, Jonathan Coe, John Niven

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Chapter Eleven

October 2014. Shanghai, China

He sits in her living room. It is compact but its elevated position offers an exceptional view of the Bund, especially now, late at night,when the dazzling neon and the effervescent sodium mix and dance across the Huangpu’s rippling blackness. The flat is a model of frugal minimalism. There are no material trappings. Nothing on the walls.No Western consumerism that many of those born here so craveand fear in equal measure. There is no television in the principal room. He knows the programmes are mediocre for the most part,and downright irritating for the remainder. So, maybe that view is enough? It isn’t a home. It is an enclosed, heated space from which someone can disappear within fifteen minutes, leaving little trace that they have even been there.

Megan pours him a glass of red wine, one sizable enough for himto deduce that she is happy with him staying for a while. He still isn’tsure why he is here, beyond the instinctive feeling that he wants tobe. After the nadir of the Huangshan visit, being here, in the flat of abeautiful, young, English-speaking woman is incredibly comforting.Joseph suspects that she too craves some form of emotional solace.She has no close friends to speak of. He isn’t blind to the suggestionthat his earlier intervention on her behalf was, for her, motivatedmore by paternal protection than by sex, as he had briefly imagined.She returns from her bedroom. She is wearing a loose white t-shirt,bleached jeans and white Converse shoes. Her blonde hair is tied up.She looks totally different; beautifully natural. In her work clothes,she could really be anyone. Attractive certainly, but more reflectiveof the organisation she works for – polished and professionally classybut not remarkable. He realises now that she is only truly relaxedwithin these walls. And she has let him inside. He appreciates how
much that must have taken for her.

She sits on the sofa next to him, watching the ships and carsslowly start to outnumber the people on the Bund as late eveningbecomes early morning. They talk for hours, her telling him thathe should get back in touch with his best friend, him affirming herdetermination never to return home. She is a nomad and the ano-nymity solitude affords her comforts and sustains her. Isolation fromthe people and places that made him feel most alive is slowly butsurely killing him. Difficult though it would undoubtedly be, she isconvinced Joseph needs to see Bobby Cassidy; to atone and accountfor sins past; to try and recapture something of the relationship theyonce had. Perhaps some form of happiness or contentment mightcome from that. It is surely worth a try, she feels. He isn’t convincedbut he has to conclude recounting some of their teenage experienceshas been refreshingly enjoyable. It has been a very long time sincehe has laughed as much. It has been a similar amount of time forher, too.He looks down at her. She has fallen asleep, her head on his lap.Telling him more about Vinnie, the crushing shock and subsequentterror of his immediate switch into Mr Hyde, and about the cir-cuitous route to reach possibly the one country he won’t think oflooking for her has exhausted her.She sleeps.He can’t. But he is happy, comparatively speaking. His hand restson her shoulder. As clichéd as it sounds, he assumes she simply needsa father figure; someone to reassure her that she did the right thingall those years ago and that she should never go back. In the future,another Cockney Jack cunt will destabilise her and another JosephMiller will hopefully be there to protect her from her doubts. Hewishes he was younger, that he could be the one who was alwaysthere for her.She sleeps.

He can’t. So he sits awake, dreaming: that Gary Cassidy never

went to the Falklands. That he and Bobby never fell out. That HettieCassidy never met that cunt Pete D’Oliveira. That he never met ormarried Lucinda, the architect of all his pain. But then he’d neverhave had Jennifer in his life, however short-lived, and although thatroad is currently blocked, Megan has reassured him there remainssome hope of connection via the words he is writing for her.Joseph Miller lifts Megan Carter’s head and gently lays it down. Itis almost sunrise. She stirs. He fears she might be disorientated andwill panic at the sight of a strange man in her apartment. But shedoesn’t. She smiles warmly at him.‘Some breakfast? I don’t have much in, but I could fix an omelette.’‘That would be good, aye,’ he says. He watches her rise, shake herhair and walk to the kitchen worktop at the rear of the open livingspace.‘Put some music on if you want,’ she says.He picks up her iPod. It is connected to a tiny speaker. Portabilityis the prime characteristic of Megan’s lifestyle. He flicks through afew playlists. There aren’t many. He presses shuffle on the MotownGold collection.‘(Love Is Like a) Heatwave’ by Martha & The Vandellas. … Fucksake, thinks Joseph Miller. The signs are everywhere.

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