Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Monday, 24 November 2008
“Could I have one of those, er, raisin squares?” he says with an American twang.
He is pointing to a fruit slice showered in fine sugar.
“A flies’ graveyard,” says a jovial man behind me and dissolves in a fit of laughter and wheezing.
Just at that, my eye is caught by a bright red shirt passing the window and I turn to see a cowboy in white Stetson moseying on down the shopping arcade.
The Yanks are in town.
The American fellow points to a fudge donut and requests two of them.
“I’ll put them in a box for ye,” says the assistant, helpful and friendly.
He looks intense, as though trying to take in everything and remember it. Must be on the heritage trail.
I catch up with Lobey Dosser as he swings by Farmfoods and heads off into Heartbreak Pass, commonly known as the Govan Shopping Centre. Cowboys are tough, and this one has to be as he endures loud comments about his absent horse and calls of ‘heigh ho Silver!’
At the Post Office, I find myself behind him in the queue and take time to admire his rig-out: a Stetson of white felt, a bit grubby. A very nice red and black Western shirt with silver buttons down the front and five in a row up the cuffs. Silver collar tips are de rigeur and of course a leather belt with a silver, engraved buckle.The piece de resistance however, has to be the fancy boots of black leather; they have a square toe and decorative stitching and are set off to excellent effect by a beautiful set of silver spurs. Just what you need on the high chaparral.
We are all staring and eventually they just can't help passing remarks.
"There's a lot takes it awful serious, the country n western. They've got the Grand Ole Opry at Paisley Road."
"Aye, look at the boots, would ye."
"It disnae look much from the outside - the Opry - but see when you're in it, some place."
Friday, 14 November 2008
He is in his twenties, tallish and thin, very. His red hair shows beneath a sage green woolly hat and he wears trackies with stripes down the legs and a pair of trainers. I am expecting him to ask me for fags or money, but he launches into quite a lengthy preamble to this request.
"Missis, ah'm sorry for stoppin ye, but ah wis suppost tae see sumdy las night but ah missed thim an then they sayed speak tae the Barnardo's street team, but ah never seen thaym, n then . . . "
The next bit is a mumble and I can't make it out. He has blue eyes and gingery eyelashes and a scabby sore covering the side of his nose and part of his upper lip. His teeth are brown and broken and he looks peely wally and properly sad.
I catch up with the story again when he is asking if I have any money I could give him for now, till he gets things sorted out. I am not for taking my purse out of my bag in this situation.
He says, "Ah'm sorry miss, ah'm no a bad boy. If ah could just get somethin tae get somethin tae eat cos ah've no had anythin n that."
"Sorry son," I say, "I've no change on me. D'ye want a packet of crisps?" and I take one out of my bag and offer it to him.
He looks bewildered and casts his eyes round about.
"Could ye get money out that shop?" he asks, gesturing to a fancy goods store.
I am looking back at him, still holding the crisps and he realises it's a bit of a lost cause, nods his head and walks on without taking my meagre offering, saying, "Awright, thanks miss. Sorry for troublin ye".
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
A Christmas card sent from John to his daughter Mary in 1914. The inscription reads:
Personal memories of Mary Fernie, born 1905.
My father was in the Scots Guards and had served in the Boer War. Everybody knew him as Big Jock Fernie. Mother met father in London outside the Palace when he was on duty. They got married and lived at Plantation. My father worked at the docks, but when the First World War was declared, he was called up.
After my father was killed, my mother would go with my brother to meet the trains bringing the wounded home between 10 pm and midnight at Central Station, just incase she'd see my father coming home as a wounded soldier. She wouldn't believe he'd been killed so for months she'd stand up at the station. At Bellahouston Park she'd go up to the hospital huts and look for him or some of his friends. Everyone was crying at the sights of the wounded men.
Finally when they sent his belongings back to her she realised he was dead.
He'd taken a picture of all of us children and he must have been holding it as he was dying because when we got it back, his fingerprint was on it in blood.
Months later my mother met a soldier from the Scots Guards who was with him when he died. He said my father had gone out of the trench - they'd been told to charge - as he'd been running across No Man's Land there was an explosion. This man stayed with him as he was dying and my father asked him to take out our photograph and he held it as he died.
"Dear Tissie, Just a line from Dad. I hope you are well. A merry Christmas to you. Give my love to all. Goodnight, hoping you will enjoy yourself tomorrow. Hoping to see you soon. xxxxx J.F."
Friday, 7 November 2008
If you want rid of any furniture, then stick it outside your close on November the fifth.
The lads will come by and pick it up.
Thursday, 6 November 2008
I told you the dugs in Govan are tough! Here are two who came along especially to enjoy the fireworks fun. Frightened of a couple of bangs? Nae fear!
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
The back windows of Howat Street and Govan Road overlook the antics and some people hing oot the windaes watching in relative safety. A pall of smoke hangs over the street giving it the air of a war zone.
Rockets whizz through the sky, Catherine wheels crazily spin tacked to trees, golden fountains, silver waterfalls, roman candles, electro-storm . . . where are the jumping jacks? Outlawed by the spoilsports, of course.
The fire is hungry and must be fed. All night, boys are busy fetching planks, headboards and bed bases, wooden chairs, a goodly number of mattresses - singles and doubles, a couple of coffee tables and finally a well stuffed armchair that looks very comfortable. Someone will be looking for that tonight. Shouts and yells resound. A lone police car drives down Rathlin Street, weaving in and out, the polis looking out, half interested. The aerial cctv camera at the junction of Govan Road is trained on the festivities - hope they're enjoying it too.
We take a wander through the smoke to Dino's at the far end of Shaw Street. The staff are watching a Polish TV programme whilst waiting for customers. The chips are great; salt and vinegary and warming in the damp chill of the night.
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Canny wait . . . also, the Pakistani shop at Govan Cross is selling fireworks Buy One Get One Free!