Friday, 26 June 2009
Friday, 19 June 2009
This, as well as ‘watching doos’ or going along to view one of the regular ‘battles’ between the Hoey Street gang and the Burndyke Street mob was a definite ‘no-no’.
Pitch and Toss was the ultimate in excitement -- presently to be compared with like-minded persons who have an interest in the Roulette Wheels of Monte Carlo or Card Tables in Las Vegas.
Picture the scene, a crowd of around 20-30 men (don’t ever remember any women being present, but there would be a few nosey wee boys, like me, wanting to see the action). It usually took place in a backcourt or a piece of waste ground or down at the bottom of Burndyke Street (as long as there was a ‘look-out’ at the top of the Street, in case ‘the polis’ came along).
The number of players was usually about six or seven, though there could be as few as two or as many as ten -- in fact, anyone who had a few pennies ‘to pitch’ up against the wall could take part in the game.
So, this was how the game started; in no particular order each player (gambler) took their turn ‘to pitch’ their penny to the wall from a line made in the dirt (distance, about ten feet). The person whose penny landed nearest the wall then took first turn at ‘tossing’ all of the ‘pitched’ pennies.
A big circle of the spectators was then formed and here, the game could get a bit complicated and ‘choices’ had probably been agreed upon prior to proceedings. The pennies could be tossed, two pennies at a time from the fingers of your flat palm (two heads you win, tails you lose, and a head and a tail you throw again).
An alternative, was to toss three pennies at ‘one go’ -- two heads would win you the three pennies or two tails mean you lose.
Second-nearest the wall would then be given the chance ‘to toss’ the pennies that were left from the first thrower and so on until all of the pennies were won.
There was skill in the pitching, some of the regular players were actually able to pitch and ‘stand’ their penny against the wall, which would win against a penny lying flat on the ground (touching the wall).
With the ‘toss’, there was, according to some, the opportunity to cheat. The pennies had to be tossed from the palm, tail side up, with the thumb well to the side -- however, it was claimed that putting the thumb above the pennies just as you were about to throw would cause the pennies to land as heads.
No fortunes could be made, even for the skilled or the cheat, since it would take a lot of pennies to make one rich. I feel quite sure though, that a ten-year-old was not noticing the side-bets that were being placed by the 20-30 spectators, on who was going to ‘head’ the pennies being tossed -- and this was where the real money was being made. Probably, all of one pound ten shillings or even two pounds on a good day!
Funnily enough, today two pals were just saying how another acquaintance has just started work as an auxiliary in the Southern and she's now an expert in everything - "even daein' the operations".
Just wondered if anybody else has a fave memory of the Govan Fair, or of Govan past and/or present? Would love to record them. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, 5 June 2009
Big Dave got chips out the Cosmo earlier on and shared them round. They tasted great and as we're starving we head back in that direction as the final float passes on by.
Then surprise, surprise! Who else do we see but Harry the Hat, counterfeiter extraordinaire, whom I erstwhile assisted in forging £50 notes.
I hail him with a "Long time no see Harry! Where you been?"
"Hello hen," he replies, "How's everybody? I'm onto the bubbly the night."
He is blowing bubbles through a long wand and a bag of them for sale lies at his feet.
He poses for a coupla pics and we go on our way.
There's a nice view of a shipyard crane over the Howat Street tenements and I take a picture. Passing youths strike a pose and there's mirth and laughter in the air.