Friday, 26 September 2008

The September Weekend

Although it's always nice to get a holiday, the long September Weekend is time off tinged with sad feelings, ranging from mild melancholy to deep foreboding.
When at school, you know the long winter term stretches ahead with journeys to and from school in the dark, homework and tests and cold rainy playtimes.
As an adult, there's a sense of "the harvest is past, the summer is ended and we are not saved" and you feel a pang of regret as the seasons move relentlessly on.

Anyway, I recall here a memory of good cheer well worth recording, for the Friday of the September Weekend 2005 was one up for the "bad boys".

I met a friend at Govan Cross. She had driven to Govan and parked her car on the spare grun' behind Govan New. We went up the town on the subway. On our way home, she starts looking for her car keys, but they're not in her bag, not in her pockets, not in any of the shopping bags. Second search takes place. Third. This goes on whilst walking over the spare grun' where people say you shouldn't leave your car cos boys will put the windae in.

It's about 6pm and daylight and the keys are nowhere to be found. Her car is still sitting in this unofficial carpark, so that's a relief. At least nobody's stolen it.
Three boys are walking across the wasteland and the one at the front is jingling a set of keys.
"These yours, Missus?" We are nodding and at the same time shaking our heads in disbelief.
"Ye left them in the door and we seen them an I kep' them for ye comin back".
The boys are 13 or 14 years old and enjoying their September weekend off school. The speaker has a serious look as if to say, 'you got away with it this time, but just watch in the future. I might not be here to save you'.
A tall skinny boy is grinning widely, "Aye, big Raymie was trying to get the keys aff us but we wouldnae gie him them".
We are fishing about in our purses for a handsome reward. This has been a close call - imagine walking away and leaving your keys in the car door!
"So, how did you keep the keys away from Raymie?" I ask.
"Aw, we just hid up in wir tree hoose and waited for ye comin back."
"What tree hoose?" we say.
"It's ower there," and they point to a trio of trees to the east of the ground.
The trees are abundant with leaves of green and nothing can be seen of a den.
"Where is it? Can we see it?" we ask and we all walk over together.

You can see nothing at all until you're right under the leafy canopy. Look up and there is a platform of wooden pallets and boards in the tree's sturdy branches.
"We've even got a settee in it," says the wee one proudly and he shimmies up and leans over the platform showing us the foam cushions they sit on.

I'd love to get up there but alas, 'twould be quite impossible for a lady, especially when the tree trunk is so smooth and there're no low branches to climb on. So, I keep my dignity for today and we thank the boys profusely and plan on writing to the Heidie at Govan High to commend today's youngsters for their noble deed.

"What are you going to spend that reward money on?" I ask them cautiously, hoping they aren't going to get drink and sit in up the tree hoose getting steaming.
"Don't know," they say.
"Ye're not in a gang are ye?" I say in a concerned older generation sort of way.
"Naw," they retort, almost angrily, and the wee one pipes up cheerily, "Gangs don't bu'ld tree hooses!"

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Teddy Bears' Picnic Ya Bam!

I have been following the fortunes of this splendid Govan gent since the springtime.
He seems to have been having a high old time of it after the Annual Teddy Bears' Picnic The other teddies have set off home to Partick and forgotten to take away their picnic litter
By midsummer, Teddy Neddy had settled down and still had plenty of picnic goodies to keep him going.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Dear Green Place

As if to make up for a poor show this summer, the sun is beaming in a blue, blue sky. Govan feels warm and comfortable in the shining golden rays. I head for a dear green place in the heart of this built-up landscape; down Pearce Street, then cut along the lane and in through the bushes to our own Eden, verdant and beautiful.

Last November there was an archaeological dig here. GUARD came with diggers and lorry loads of dirt were heaped up high, students carefully sifted and searched. I read about it on a poster in the window of the youth project shop, but the most succinct explanation of what was going on was relayed to me by a wee wumman who said, "They're lookin for two kings, hen", as I passed her on Water Row.

We are on the cusp of autumn, but today is decidedly summer. This grassy field is surrounded by trees and hedgerows, still in full leafy bloom. The grass grows long and wild and I walk round the perimeter, enjoying the warmth of the sun beating down on me.

Sometimes you can see red blaize at your feet. I think this dates from when the crazy council once made this a carpark. Now all that is left of that stupid idea is a rusty barrier with a sign that says "this carpark will close at 6 o'clock". Ha! Keep your carpark. And please don't come up with any other scheme either - a community garden or summat else like that. Let's just keep this as wilderness. There's a couple of wee tips here and there with piles of lager cans and old bits of carpet and tyres, but that's ok cos that means no one targets this paradise for full scale vandalism.

I sit on the grass and close my eyes. The birds are singing so sweetly. A sense of peace and tranquility surrounds me. I feel a connection with all the people who ever lived their lives on this little piece of earth; spiralling down through the centuries, right back to the ancients, the commoners and the kings.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Are We No' a' Beggars?

Just before the entrance to the subway at Govan Cross, a woman approaches me.
"Could you spare 50 p?" she asks, "it's just for somethin to eat."
I slow down and look in my bag, unzip my purse and search around for coins amidst the bundle of receipts and tickets that live in there.
She is dark haired and blue eyed, late 30s, worried looking, anxious.
"We're waitin for a crisis loan, but it's no come through an we're just tryin to get somethin to eat. 50 pence would be great."
She nods over past me, but I don't look round, "My man's askin as well. It's just takin ages to get the crisis loan. We're in a homeless unit in Ibrox."

"Here ye go," and I give her a pound coin that I pull out along with a twenty pence and a couple of coppers. "Where ye staying?" I ask.
"A homeless place in Ibrox,"she says, "we've been offered a house in Govan, but it's no through yet."

I'm dropping the twenty p. and the coppers back into my purse and at the same time thinking how stupid that is - I should just have given her all the change. Daft.
And daft is exactly what some would say I am for giving her anything at all. But, oh well, at the end of the day, are we not all beggars?