Sunday, 31 August 2008

Even Earlier Govan School Days Remembered

A few more reminiscences of Govan school life in earlier days.

Thanks for these memories from Mary F., born 1905
I went to school in Lambhill Street. When I was 5 or 6, I was talking in class to the girl next to me. The teacher put the wastepaper basket in the middle of the floor and I had to stand on it. I was so embarrassed because my skirt went up at the back! My mother went up to the teacher and read the riot act.

And from Peggy Mc, born 1913
I remember going to school. The teacher asked me if I knew anyone in the class and I pointed to Jeannie Bruce. We stayed friends all through school.
One time at Christmas one of the teachers called me out and gave me a lovely wee bag all covered with beads. I don't know what it was for. She must have thought I was awful good.

When I was about five or six, we got word one day that my aunty had died. My mummy sent me to get my big brother Neddy from his class at Broomloan Road school. I was scared going into the classroom, I remember his teacher was Paddy Stocks. He asked me to point out Neddy and I looked up at all the high seats but couldn't see him. He was sitting down at the front - I didn't realise those were the best seats! Neddy took me home down through Graham's Park and we passed a field of turnips. He pulled up two and peeled them and we ate one each.

Peggy: second back row, second from left - click on photo to enlarge

And some fun times at Broomloan Road School, recalled by John M. born 1903
I've a faint recollection of going to school. The teacher asked if I knew anybody. I pointed to a boy who lived next door so she put me beside him. Him and I were pals all the rest of my life. He was Jock Craigie.
In the playground we played football. I was an expert at walking on my hands. I challenged other boys to do the same, but they weren't very successful.

John: back row, second from left - click on photo to enlarge
The teacher on left side is Mister Lister, of whom John still spoke with dread - even into his eighties.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Back to School; Tillie's Tale

As the summer draws to a close and children return to their desks, a special welcome is extended to guest blogger Tillie, who tells about her first day at school.

School Days
I started school not too long after my fifth birthday in 1941. I wasn't scared about the prospect, after all I had no big brothers or sisters to put me off by telling me all about getting the belt. I was going to Ibrox Primary School, facing the Rangers Football Park, and my first day was so exciting. All the children arrived with their mothers, grannies, or older siblings.

I didn't really know anyone on my first day, as most of the children who were my friends were off to St. Saviour's Primary School. I lived in Broomloan Road, close to Neptune St. which was nicknamed the Irish Channel. Most of the tenants there were Irish Catholic immigrants, as were most of our neighbours, and also the majority of the Wine Alley. I was so disappointed when I didn't see my wee pals setting off for Ibrox School. I couldn't understand why they weren't going there, especially John L- who had asked me to marry him and I had accepted.

We went in through the gates and down a little stairway which led us into the girls playground. That was another shock in this new world - the boys and girls were segregated in the playground. The boys entered into their playground from Edmiston Dr. which they all loved, as it was facing the Rangers Football Club. Most days at playtime one could see a row of boys, who all looked as if their faces were attached to the railings, trying to catch a glimpse of a Rangers player.

On that first day, I felt a little uncomfortable in my new navy blue coat, which was part of the school uniform. I had soon noticed that I seemed to be the only one wearing this style. My little wooden suitcase also made me stand out like a sore thumb. It had been beautifully crafted by my grandpa and my name was printed on it in gold lettering and varnished all over by my daddy who was a signwriter to the painting trade. Everyone else had a little leather bag on their backs. I trudged through the playground, feeling all eyes on this strange creature in the navy trench coat with suitcase in hand. I must have looked like a member of MI5.

We were ushered into the class where our teacher Miss G- awaited us. She was a middle aged woman, very tall and slim with tight grey curls, and wore a long grey dress well past her knees. She turned out to be always calm and kind and could sort out any problem to the satisfaction of the children in her class. Our mothers were quickly dismissed and we were told to sit down at one of the double desks set in rows.

As I was taking a place, we all heard a peculiar noise coming from the back of the class, a low howling, emitting from a small boy in the back row. Everyone turned round and I recognised Tommy W- who lived across from me in the Wine Alley. By the time Miss G- had started towards him, he was out of his seat and screaming at the top of his voice, heading for the door. Before he could make it, the door burst open violently making a loud bang as it hit the wall. Mrs W-, Tommy’s mother, came rushing through it and grabbing hold of the collar of her son’s shirt, she began dragging him back to his seat. A tall elderly gentleman, whom I later found out to be the head master Mr S-, then followed her into the classroom. Poor Mrs. W- was trying desperately to make her child remain in the seat into which she had thrown him and was now forcing him down in a wrestling hold. All the while Mr. S- and Miss G- were trying in vain to prevail upon the poor wee woman and her unfortunate son. What a racket they were all making! Mr. S-'s voice could be heard above the others saying, " Please be calm Mrs W-, I will deal with Thomas".

Too late, wee Tommy dealt with everything by wetting his pants. Mrs W- screamed and howled with shame and indignation, shouting at Tommy, "See whit yiv done noo? Ye'll niver get intae Ibrox School", as the puddle spread across the floor.

We never saw Wee Tommy in Ibrox School again. Later the whispered rumour spread around, that "the Powers That Be", had decreed that he should attend "the Special School".

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Sunday Service

The weather is pleasantly still and grey this Sabbath evening and there is a lot of activity on the streets.

Govan Road's notorious close is tonight's hang out for a baby gang. The boys, aged from twelve down to about four years, seem to be enjoying themselves, running into the close and out again, slamming the door on each other and getting up to all sorts of fun and games on the pavement.

A window on the first floor, above the Liquor Barn, swings open and a teenager wearing a baseball cap leans out and spits down into the street. The little ones gaze up at him. He stares back at them, a bit menacingly, and disappears back into the room. A little while later, a younger boy in a blue and white trackie top takes his position at the window. He leans right out, casually exchanging remarks with the gang in the street. One shouts up to ask him to come out but he replies "Ah've tae get ma da chips". And then he is gone.

A Sunday evening must be prime shopping time for Govan Road residents. A couple passes, both carrying a couple of heavy Asda plastic bags in each hand. He is wearing shorts, white socks and sandals, she is very blonde; Eastern Europeans. Then comes a weary looking mum with a girl and two boys and they all have Asda plastic carriers. A middle aged working man, with his messages in the Asda bags, slips into a close. Over at the bus stop, an African family, maw, paw and the weans, wait with granny and wave her off on the number 23. Then they join hands and cross the street back to their home.

Karaoke is resonating from the Harmony Bar at the corner of Shaw Street and the drunken nasal tones of tonight's singer sound warm and intense. "Oh Flower of Scotland", sung with deep feeling, and after a short break, "Wake Up Little Suzy". This is lacking enthusiasm and the singer trails off a couple of times but picks up towards the end and reaches the last bar with a flourish. Everyone must be sozzled in there as they let him continue for a third number - "Sweeeet Ca-ro-line, da-da-da daaaah".

Two elderly gents, one wearing a baseball cap, emerge from the bar and light up at the door. They've had enough.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Splish Splash

I awaken to the heavy beat of rain, coming down in sheets from a leaden sky. It's not going to stop at least until evening, and there are wide, deep puddles on the roads and pavements.

No wind; so the rain seems to drop with more intensity and brings a strange warmth and cheer to the heart on a dark August day.

In the post office queue, everyone is looking quiet and glum. An elderly man beside me says, "Here, I can see from your face that you're lovin this weather."
That makes me smile and I reply, "Terrible summer eh?"
He's wearing a wee woolly hat and a rain jacket and his face is full of good humour and a bright smile. "Och well, it's great for making the grass grow. Great weather for the ducks, eh?"
I laugh along with him.
"Ye cannae let it get you down! It'll be good for something," he says.
"Suppose so." And we shrug and nod in agreement.

Under the canopy of the outdoor shops at the centre, men and women are waiting for a more intense downpour to let up a little before continuing on their way. I wait too, watching the raindrops bubble and splash in the puddles and listening to the incessant drumming above our heads.

Friday, 8 August 2008

08 08 08

I am drawn as always to the river. Today I feel daring and go for a walk. I take great care and make sure that no one's around and then I casually step through a gap in the high iron railings on Clydebrae Street and keep walking briskly along the banks of the River Clyde. I never fully enjoy this when I'm on my own. I'm always on edge, glancing round and wondering how the devil I will get back out again if the boys come. And yet, this nervous tension is what gives the experience an extra dimension.

Anyway, the view across the graving docks is worth it, and across the river to the tall ship and quaint little Partick, and further on down to a mass of buildings and bridges that aren't worth discerning. If I had the nerve, I would sit here for hours, imagining past times of industry and the teeming life that surged around these now bleak, watery chasms.

The boys have two white plastic garden chairs on the bridge by their dookit. I'd love to sit there at my leisure, but sadly, I don't think they'd welcome me. They've got the prime spot in all of Govan. Maybe I'll work up my courage one day and get pals with them. I'll just go up to them, as they sit in the sun or the chittering cold, their hoods up no matter the weather, drinking cheap wine and smoking stuff, and I'll ask if I can sit there and enjoy the grand panorama. And once we're good friends I'll tell them about the boys from the generation before mine who used to hang out by this river too. How they worked in the evenings on an old cabin cruiser they called "The Red Witch" and how they never managed to get it sea-worthy - as far as I know - but had a great time trying.

I always have an eerie feeling when I come here alone. I can't decide if it's my fear of the living, or the presence of the dead.