Friday, 29 May 2009

Skoosh Me . . . Skoosh Me!

We're in a heatwave with glorious sun and blue skies. The warm temperature is so relaxing and makes hingin oot windaes a pleasure beyond compare.

In the deep chasm of Luath Street there's a whole host of enjoyment and delightful summertime pursuits going on as dusk falls and the heat continues to sustain us.
Attached to the well at the kitchen sink of a ground floor flat snakes a long yellow hose, out into the hands of girls and boys who take turns snatching it and squirting water over each other. One big lad is controlling the flow but the rest get a good chance at drenching themselves and everyone else. The Govan dogs love it too and bound around in the spray.
You can spurt the water by half blocking the hose end with your fingers and a powerful jet will shoot out targeting one willing victim. Or, you can adjust it to a very fine spray and gently soak everybody.
The older generation are out too and enjoy catching up with news and views as they lean on the railings at the close mouth.
Squeals of laughter echo up through the red canyon of tenements and there's a sense of good humour and wellbeing in the warm shade of evening.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Fitba' Daft

I love this account from guest blogger Dan who takes us back to the football of the streets and playgrounds of old Govan.

Has anyone ever asked you, ‘how do you know if you are in love?’ The question was asked of me by a friend when I was much younger, and I am quite sure that it has been in the mind of many people over the years, perhaps, in most cases, thought - but left unsaid. I don’t remember giving more than a mumble when it was asked of me; could it be described as one of life’s ‘imponderables’, like trying to describe the taste of salt to someone.

A strange way, I suppose, to introduce ‘My Latest Blog’. But having been asked to write a bit about playing football in my young days in Govan got me thinking about my obsession with ‘the beautiful game’.

My earliest recollections of ‘kicking the ba’ go back the school playground in Copeland Road Primary School. I have since - about fifty years later - had a look at the school playground. It looked so tiny, hardly big enough for a game of ‘wee heidies’, let alone two sides, each of ten wee boys running, all chasing the ball. I can’t remember how many were on each side, but I’m sure that there would be about that number per team.

We played before the 9 am school bell went, and again for about fifteen minutes in the morning playtime; after lunch there would be a game for about 30 minutes before going in to classes; and when we got out of school at 4 pm we were at it again - often lasting for over an hour.

We played, generally, with a tennis ball - referred to as a ‘tanner-ba’ (a tanner being a sixpence in old money) and later, many of the professional players would become known as ‘tanner-ba’ players’ - because of the tricks and ‘keepy-uppy’ they could do with the ball.

There was a variety of other balls; solid rubber (almost like a brick), and there would be times when old newspapers would be ‘scrumpled-up’ and bound with some kind of tape, and kicked around until the whole thing unwound. Such intensity, oblivious to the fact that we were kicking around one page of a newspaper - must get the game finished with the result of the match being the only that mattered.

Team selection could be a ‘real lift’ or a ‘complete downer’ depending, mostly, on how skillful you were or, alternatively, if you were able to bestow ‘favours’ (like sweeties) on the person doing the selecting.

Imagine the scene: two boys standing out from a line of about 20, sometimes 30 eagerly expectant boys, all looking to be selected to play in one of the teams. If there’s 30 and it is just ten a side, there’s going to be ten disappointed, or even ‘gutted’ boys.

It would, naturally, be the two boys considered to be the best players who would do the selecting. Toss up for who gets the ‘first-pick’. Of course, he’s going to go for who he considers the next best player. Turn-about in choosing who’s next, right down the line of expectant faces.
When I think of the impact that ‘the deciding’, ‘the judging’ of who was ‘next best’ had on young boys, around 7-10 years old - on the one hand, thinking you were the greatest if you were among the first chosen, and so devastating to be left on the sidelines. It seems so cruel, and I would think, almost life-changing or character-forming (or destroying) at such an early age.

On with the game then. Apart from the selecting of teams there were times when, if there were only a few boys around, a game would start with 3-a-side, and then as others appeared they would be allowed to join in -’cock or a hen’ - one for each side, the two newcomers would have decided who was ‘cock’ and who was ‘hen’. This procedure could also be fraught, since the ‘hen’ might be a much better player than the ‘cock’ - but, of course, it was just the luck of the draw. Nevertheless, it justified a few moans - either way.

No referees, no trophies, no showers, no half-time, for some no full-time (‘ah’ve just remembered that my Mammy told me to come straight hame after school’).

What do you know? I’ve just remembered some of the reasons why I love football so much.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


There is a power of aggression on the Govan Road today.

I walk out of the Royal Bank in the morning and into the eye of a storm. A big black 4x4 is stopped in the middle of the road and the driver has the window down, leaning across the passenger's seat, screaming at a fella who's getting money out of the cashline. And I mean screaming. His face is twisted and he's bawling obscenities, the likes of which I won't repeat, and the man at the cash machine is roaring back, cursing and swearing, threatening abuse.

One is accusing the other of starting it. The other says he will rip his head off. The first says he will cut the other's throat. They are both middle aged men. Neither of them looks like they'd be fit to fight. The one at the bank's got glasses on and looks mild mannered but his replies are vicious.

Take it this is a 'road rage' dispute and the big black jeep driver has chased the other offender who has since left his car to go to the bank.

What a state they get themselves into. Can't be good for you. I don't feel it's doing me any good either.

Friday, 8 May 2009

The Govan Baby

The back of the card reads, 'In 1884, the people of Govan built the Aitken Memorial Fountain at the centre of Govan Cross to honour one of their own, Dr John Aitken, who had died working to improve public health locally. At the centre of the fountain was a statue of a cherub - 'The Govan Baby'. Having stood for over 100 years, Govan's Baby disappeared in the 1990s and has not been seen since. It is a small symbol of all that has been lost at Govan Cross.'

Funny that, how I was just thinking about the fountain at Govan Cross about 2 or 3 weeks ago, googled it, and found out all about the good Dr. Aitken.
Then yesterday, I saw two men inspecting the fountain and measuring it and discussing it and I thought, oh no, please don’t be dismantling this now.
And then, today, I sees a crowd mingling around the fountain and banjo and fiddle music playing out of a white marquee against the wall which divides the waste grun from the slabs wherein the fountain and the public lavvies are set. There’s a giant mobile screen with rolling captions which says this is done in partnership with so and so and such and such and this one and that one.

A dog walking buddy is wryly watching on the periphery.
“Another waste a money likely “ says he, curtly.
“Is this for the fountain?” says I.
“Ah think it’s for the church,” he says. “That bit a grun belangs tae them. That’s how they pit that tarmac doon, so’s the market couldnae get oan it.”
He shakes his head, scunnered.
Two guys are footering nearby with a tv camera and a big furry mic.
“There’s the telly,” I say, “Go’n on it.”
He snorts. “Aye right, Ah’ll get taken away in a van”.

On the bench behind the marquee sit a few gents, enjoying a swally. They wander round to the main event and I ask one if he knows what this is for. They all join in with, “Don’t know”, “We jist put up the marquee”, but one, knowledgeably says it’s cos there used to be a baby in the fountain and then the council lost it or something.

A lady comes up to me with a basket of shortbread cherubs and I take one out, which is unfortunately broken, but I just keep it anyway.
“What’s your wish for Govan?” she asks and writes down my answer on the back of a card.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Watson's Cake Parade

Wasn't it great when your Granny and Great Aunty came for afternoon tea and brought a cake box tied with string. And the conversation was always very interesting.

Here are a couple of fairy cakes on sale in Watson's Bakery, Shaw Street, Govan in 2009. They are light in texture with a covering of white icing and chocolate sprinkles. The one on the left is a variation: the top has been sliced off and cream smothered inbetween.

These are the top cakes. A pineapple souffle and a raspberry souffle (pronounced soofle). I have recently seen these called 'tarts', but we always, rightly or wrongly, referred to them as soofles.

Today in Watsons, for a change, the one on the right has an added ornamental swirl.

Here they are from a sideways angle so we can see the very delicious shell. It's the combination of the crispness of the shell and the soft fondant and the sweeeeeeeeeeeet cream inside that makes this cake so perfect.