Alasdair Gray is the most wonderful, anarchic, infuriating talent. His writing (and the art that goes with it) soars at times to magnificence, while sometimes his playfulness and general atmosphere of seedy chaos results in odd and uncomfortable misfires. His stories have an unchecked abundance to them – not bound by any sense of decorum or genre. This one – and the delightful illustrations that go with it – is a blunt takedown of the industrial revolution, a kind of Morris-esque Marxist allegory of the problems of modernity. And a very funny story.
First published in Unlikely Stories, Mostly, Canongate, 1983, then collected in Every Short Story by Alasdair Gray, Canongate, 2012. You can hear it read by the author here)