Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Friday, 17 December 2010
On the week ending 3rd December I phoned the P.I. to ask if they knew when the big light-up ceremony would be. Eh, naw, we've no heard, was the reply.
Time passed and every evening the Christmas tree stood with lights in place, but still in drab darkness.
Right, what's going on, we're all thinking. So, this morning, I phone the P.I. again and this time a woman answers and with a bemused chuckle in her voice tells me the lights actually got turned on last night. They didn't have a ceremony or anything - no youth groups were there, or Santa or presentation selection boxes. "Don't quite know who witnessed it," she finishes, "maybe just a few folk standing waiting for a bus."
I nip along to snap a picture of the tree resplendent in its wintry twinkle. There's an added bonus of an outdoor ice rink in the street. Somebody's written HA HA HA on the big electrical box thing - pity they didn't think to make it HO HO HO.
We're dead lucky to have a Christmas tree this year, what with all the cutbacks and recession and so on, even if it did stand for a month with nae lights. What's the big iron grille about though? No need.
Saturday, 27 November 2010
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Friday, 5 November 2010
The regeneration of Govan has extinguished one of its hottest winter festivals. Building sites, new housing, fancy landscaped back courts means there's nowhere to build the bonfire and set off the fireworks. Well, there's still the sperr grun at Water Row, but nothin's there for whatever reason. It feels as depressing as a damp squib.
Just before midnight, a dug starts barking like crazy and there's the sound of a scuffle and running and then the polis motors screech along Govan Road - up to eleven of them at one point - with officers running up closes to bring out the bad rascals in a big, bad round-up.
I'm just saying - I might not be right - but I'm just saying, maybe this could've been avoided if we'd had the usual bonfire malarkey, setting off fireworks, burning household goods and so on.
Thursday, 4 November 2010
Nothing to see in the landscaped backcourts.
In east Govan, there's no sign of life at the sperr grun sites still available. No wood collections as there's been in the past few years. It was only 2008 when I saw the tallest pyramid of wooden planks I ever did see at Summertown Road. But this week there's nothing. Just dank wilderness and weeds.
Have received word that two boys, about 8, have been collecting penny for the guy at Govan X. The guy being a Sponge Bob thing sticking out the top of a black bin bag. It'll be hard pressed to find a fire to sit on.
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
Monday, 1 November 2010
And up river, the city of Glasgow burns in the distance.
Wonder how we look? Must take a trip across to the other side and check it out some time.
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Clocks went back an hour last night, so this Hallowe'en sees darkness fall around half past five.
After dinner we go for a saunter through the festive streets. Half sixish sees plenty of guisers heading round the doors. Skeletons on Shaw St, fairies, witches floating down McKechnie St. A couple of St. Trinian's lassies zip up and down arm in arm. We catch sight of the baldies once more, the black one still charging along with the white one rattling about in the red metal wheelchair.
Outside the Liquor Barn a skinny scallywag squares up to us. "Gonnae take ma pic-cher?" he whines, out his contorted face on various stuffs.
Back home, the basin of cold water's set in the middle of the living room and dooking for apples begins. Performance of a joke, a song or a dance is required before you get one of Watson's fancy cakes and a handful of monkey nuts.
Saturday, 30 October 2010
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
Monday, 18 October 2010
"You get six for a pound," says the lady serving me.
"Give me six then - two Paris as well."
"Ye can't go wrong wi a scone," she says, and I nod in agreement. "They'll aye keep to the next day."
I savour the moment; the homeliness of the bakery, the aroma, the wee signs still stuck on the glass counter, though scraping off a bit, the same floor, the same ceiling, the same fittings since ever I remember. And, the friendliness and warmth that makes Govan great.
I go out into the world, full of nostalgia and resolving to show that same couthiness to the next person I meet.
Wednesday, 13 October 2010
I reckon that plaza thing in front of the shopping centre is complete now. It's a bit of a let down if I'm honest - ok, better than the giant manky planters full of pigeons and papers, but nothing to ooh and aah over. Just a snaking stainless steel bench; dead uncomfortable, cold, no back on it to rest against. The paving slabs are nice stone though.
Two wee boys are having fun jumping over the bench. They are small, maybe 7 or 8 but they can take a running jump and easily clear the bench, and they race back and forward, bouncing over it before disappearing into Farmfoods, which is where I'm heading myself.
One of them has scaled a refrigerator unit and is gripping on to a ledge at the front door.
His harassed ma shouts, "Git doon you," and then, "Thiv no got yer Jamaican stuff."
An old man with a droopy Western outlaw moustache calls out, "Naw, ther's nane a the gingerbreid in. That's whit Ah'm efter an'a'."
I get a coupla loaves, Hovis, two for a pound and go to the checkout. The wee boys are loading bananas, bread and a big boattla irnbru onto the conveyor belt. The checkout guy takes the ma's money and hands out seven pounds something in change. The wee boy's hand darts forward and snatches the fiver and the coins.
"Riiiiggghhht," growls his ma and he reluctantly holds his hand out for her to lift the cash.
The checkout guy and me have a wee laugh and the ma shakes her head and tightens her mouth. We're only half way through the October holiday week.
The wee boys are off like streaks of lightning, running pell mell along the silver seating.
Monday, 11 October 2010
I come upon a sweet little scene in Govan's wilderness, in the shadow of the People's Cathedral.
Children playing in the earth, safe in this sanctuary, surrounded by trees arrayed in autumn foliage and warmed by the last rays of a dying sun.
Plastic carriers holding an assortment of cairry-oot foods and drink tied neatly to spiked railings.
Up river to dear old Glesga toon. Check the sun shining on the rippling current.
Launch of HMS Duncan
Govan is so busy today. Crowds are wandering along the Govan Road on their way home from the last traditional launch of a ship into the River Clyde.
Everyone seems a bit despondent. Some people are wearing pirate hats but there's no high jinks. Just crowds slowly making their way to the bus stops and the subway, or back to where they've left their cars. Just a bit fed up, in spite of the balloons and the fireworks, in spite of the big splash and the magnificent sight of the ship, in spite of the sun splitting the blue, blue skies.
Thursday, 16 September 2010
Up the road in Bellahouston Park, the priests are processing and the Catholic crowds are amassed to hear the address of Pope Benedict XVI and listen to the choirs and Susan Boyle sing.
Down in the heart of the tenements, it's as though Summer is snatching a last wild breath of life after a dreich week of autumnal weather.
Out in the back courts, a wee gang of children are playing at tig. They are racing up and over the middens, jumping and chasing, running as fast as they can to get away from whoever's het. I don't think any of them are Scottish children, by the look and sound of them.
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
Next up will be Hallowe'en, but what's this?
Eid? "Eid Cards For Sale" reads the day-glo green sign.
I take a look inside but there's no sign of the cards. I'm sure it was last week, the boy from the Asmaan told me it was Eid last Friday, the 10th. Just another case of the sign not being taken down from the door.
I walk about a bit, look at the cards and stuff and don't want to walk out without buying anything, so I think - hey, what about the Pope's visit tomorrow. He's coming to Bellahouston Park, so what about a bit of memorabilia for my lapsed Catholic pal fae Wishaw.
The Pakistani shopkeeper and two older ladies are sitting behind the counter.
I ask if they have any souvenirs for the Pope's visit. The owner looks to his wife. She's shaking her head, no, no dear.
"Are you going? Going to see the Pope?" they ask in their Asian-Glasgow tones.
"No, not me," I say.
"How no'?" they respond.
"Not a Catholic - just wanted to get something for my friend. Remember the last time he came there was lots of stuff in the shops - like pictures and mugs and stuff."
"Aye, that's right enough. No' this time though," says the lady, "Nothin in the market this time."
"Wonder how that is?" I muse and have a last look down the shop and up on the walls to see if I might have missed a wee picture of His Holiness gazing down at me.
Sunday, 5 September 2010
"Whit?" I shout excitedly.
He gets a fright and wonders what he should tell me when I start pressing him for full information.
"It was Pakistanis. They had a van and they were carrying seats out to it."
"And could you see inside the Lyceum?"
"No, not really. Just down a dark corridor."
"A-ha, but there was a corridor - and what could you see down it?"
"Nothing, it was dark."
"Yes, but there must be some kind of hall behind the front of the cinema - for them to keep the seats in. And were the seats red velvet?"
Wednesday, 25 August 2010
Tuesday, 24 August 2010
"Yes, there is," says I.
"No there isn't, she insists. You can look down on it and it's just open ground. You can look yourself on google maps. Check the aerial view."
"No way," I say.
We are walking past it and the sun is out and shining.
"Look up there," she says, "you can see the clear air through the bricks - the see-through glass bricks."
I am looking and looking, trying to see through the screen which portrays the old Lyceum of yesteryear.
"Where? Where? I can't see that - I can't see any clear air. I'm telling you it's a cinema in there. All dark red velvet."
But then, my eye suddenly focuses on the glassy brick which clearly shows light blue air behind it.
I feel downcast and low. What happened to the cinema? Have I been walking past it all this time and it's just been a front?
Friday, 20 August 2010
the other nicht on ma late night jaunt tae the g-side wyclef jean was on that radio sproutin aboot his bid tae be el presidente of haiti. i parked up and wuz listening tae him. as i wuz listening ma beads spotted twa lassies walking doon the street. the taller wan had on the bumble bee celtic tap wi trackies and her wee pal had a white pb jaiket and them cut-aff jeans. in her arms celtic was cradling a bottle of budwiser, a packet o cribs and a pot noodle. i watched them walk by, just having a listen tae president wyclef.
suddenly, a turn o events i wisnae expecting. celtic stalked back, looked in ma windae, then walked awa again. i was confused. oot a nowhere, back she came, peeked in the windae, and walked awa. i didnae have a clue. ma confusion turned tae astonishment and bewilderment whenever she stalked back, looked in the windae and opened the door. ma jaiket fell oot on the street. she reached oot her grubby and picked it up. 'that'll need a dryclean' i thought. 'oh expletive' she said, 'sorry pal'. i said it wuz ok. she said, 'ah didnae realise anywan wuz in here, i thought somewan had left their radio and i wuz gonnae shout up 'somewan's left their radio on, the battery will go flat''. 'thats very good of you' i said, as she shut the door and walked awa. i thought tae maself, 'what a wee lovely, it jist goes tae show ye'.
Thursday, 19 August 2010
Well, it wouldn’t be Govan – and I don’t suppose it would have been Jimmy Reid either - if we didn’t have a bit of ‘Govanitis’ controversy. Yes, even on the day of someone’s funeral.
As the cortege passed along Govan Road, there, on the busy pavements, outside the Old Govan Arms, Jimmy Reid was being given his blessings from one irate ‘punter’ shouting at the cortege, accusing the dead man of deserting his ‘class or class-less’ roots, when he defected from the shipyards and became a political pundit for The Sun newspaper and the old Glasgow Herald.
Ah well, you can’t please everyone -- and the contrast, I’m sure, would have been evident to Jimmy, lying there in his coffin as he made the journey from his home in Rothesay, on the ferry across the Clyde, up the road alongside the Clyde estuary, and thence to Fairfields’ (now Upper Clyde Shipbuilders), where around one hundred shipyard workers, yellow helmets in hand, bowed as the cortege passed the yard door.
Of course, most of the workers were not around at the time of the ‘sit-in’ which had taken place almost forty years before – but the legend lives on.
Friday, 6 August 2010
having made the late night trip from casa de fun fun tae govan aboot a dozen times now, the only incident worth noting has been a run in wi the secret police in their wee red bucket spy car asking if i wur mental fur moving tae the g-side. normally it's quiet and a bit deid, possibly due to the big dirty camera which patrols ma sector. on a normal i would come oot the car, lock ma doors, utter a silent prayer of protection ower it and shuffle off tae the close.
the other night however as i was parking, i noticed a shady hanging aboot the close, drinking his four litre bottle of frosty jacks. i wondered whut he was dain and had a wee think to masel, 'here. we. go'.
i collected ma stuffs, got oot, locked ma doors, said ma silent prayer, and shuffled off toward the close. as i got nearer i could hear voices, but couldnae tell how many there wuz, or whut they wur doing. it was raining a wee bit, so i thought 'they might just be having a shelter'. as i got closer shady stepped oot, hudding his frostys. 'ya aw rite?' i said, shady said 'yeh'. 'just having a shelter?' i enquired and shady replied 'aye'.
while conversing with shady i noticed that there wuz only one other voice and it belonged tae a lassie, and i assumed she was shady's. i opened the door. 'see you later m8' i said, and shady said something, but i wisnae listening anymare tae shady. i had ma beads on his wee lass who wuz saying see ya later tae shady and telling him she was going tae wait at her door while coming in the close wi me. this wuz a turn o events i wisnae expecting.
the door closed and i started to shuffle doon the hall when shady's girl nearly fell on iz. 'hen, im engaged' i almost blurted oot, but she beat me to it with 'thank goodness'(almost), as it dawned on iz she wuznae shady's at all, but ma neighbour. 'ive been terrified' she continued, 'he came up to iz and said i was part of the govan young team now'. 'hahaha', i laughed. looking back it wuz prolly the wrong reaction considering the torment she'd just been through, but in ma defence, it wuz funny.
'you forget yer keys'? i continued, asking the obvious, you know, just in case she'd been oot there enjoying shady's company and sharing his frostys. 'yeh, they're at ma work, ma boyfriend is bringing them to me.' 'oh, thats good,' says i, relieved that she would get in her hoose, and espesh that she had a boyf, i wuz safe.
'how long have you been out there?' i continued. 'half an hour, ive been rully scared' she said(kind of), 'i thought to masel, if i just stand in the close, noone will see iz and someone will come and let iz in, and i'll be fine, but i was oot for ages'.
then i felt a bit bad.
i got to ma door and said ma goodbyes to the not shady's girl and went into ma living room tae spy on shady. him and his frostys had moved tae the close directly across and he was tapping on the bottom floor windae, but getting nae response. he went into the close and was aboot tae relieve himself in the corner, when a young black chap interrupted him. he enticed him intae a conversation, and cadged a smoke aff him. whenever wur ethnic buddy moved on, shady relieved himsel. i considered calling up ma friends in the wee red panda spy car, but decided i couldnae be bothered wi the hassle.
i went aff to get a washing, then had a check on shady. he wuz across the road, ootside the solicitors (the irony), having a sing and swiggin his frostys. on the groond he noticed an empty glasser and picked it up. he put it on tap o the bin and tried to roundhouse kick it aff. frostys had worsed fur weared him so he missed, and i wondered if he'd clocked that karate kid film at the cinemas earlier in his night. he tried again and this time he caught it, but a bit rubbishly and it toppled off. he took up his chanting again, and had some swigs.
i shuffled off to ma bed wondering if shady had any pals and what would become of his night.
Wednesday, 4 August 2010
I've got nobody to blame but myself. Even when I was handing over all the forms et cetera, I got a very strong feeling that they were all going to get swallowed up in the Files of Oblivion, deep in the vaults of the bank at Govan Cross, and I still did it.
Anyway, I think about getting angry, cos this is the second time this has happened to me inside a year. Not to mention it's the done thing nowadays to get furious with the banks for the flamin mess we're all in. But, here I am. Just standing waiting, with a sort of smile on my face. Like, I knew this was gonny happen anyway, so, why should I get angry when I knew as I handed my forms over that they'd all get lost.
The bank teller's gone away on a hunt with a sort of half-hearted energy. I'm pretty sure he's the one I handed the form into and he's probably not bothered to process it and the application's lying in his drawer.
Anyway, I'm left standing at the glass for a while and I get to remembering the olden days, when there was just a wee bit of glass at the bottom with a hole to speak through. Is that right? Then they got in the full length glass from the ceiling to the countertop.
Wonder if there was a time when there was no glass between the money and the Govanite?
I'm still waiting.
Two lassies come in and one has got on a pair of pyjama bottoms for trousers. They are pink wth a darker pink vertical stripe and sparkly silver, metallic stars. They're loosely tied at the top with a white cotton string - like pyjamas. Well, they are pyjamas.
"Ah've lost ma pin," says she. "Ah can't remember it."
Number, I think she means.
It's quite interesting waiting here. Now I'm thinking of the bank in times past when Stella worked here. There was a guy who looked like Hen Broon and was a right sobersides. One day, he didn't come into work and it turned out he just stayed in bed. Put the covers over his head and stayed there for six months. Stella told us that.
Now a handsome young man comes to the teller and says, "Ah've been inside eighteen month and Ah've come out an' Ah've got charges on my account but Ah can't have cos Ah've been inside and what would Ah be charged for?"
The teller looks at his statement.
"Your card's been used and you've went into a overdraft."
(That's what he says, 'a' overdraft).
"But how can there be when Ah've no been buyin anything?" says the young ex-con.
The teller examines it further.
"Your card's been used here and here, on this date and that."
"It was just my ma that used it," says the boy. "I gave her permission."
"Well, you can't do that," says the teller, taking umbrage.
"How can Ah no'?" the young man retorts. "Ah wis inside and Ah told her she could."
"You can't. That's fraud. And anyway, she's went over your overdraft and that's how you've got charged."
Oh me. Here we go. It's going to get heated and just at that, my teller comes back to say that they have no record of having received my form and they don't have another in this branch but if I pop into any branch up the town, I can pick one up.
There's a lot to be said for keeping what money you have under the bed, in the back of the clock, in the biscuit tin.
Thursday, 29 July 2010
Recent archaeological activity exposes the layout of the public conveniences with fancy glazed white bricks.
You know the sad thing, like all the sad things about Govan? They're going to fill it in permanently and as the railings aren't listed, they'll be going in to storage and may be used in Govan elsewhere, some time or other. Aye . . . know what I'd like to do wi the railings.
Friday, 16 July 2010
Here's a glimpse of the Glasgow Fair holidays from Mary F. born in Kinning Park in 1905.
"We used to go down to Dunoon and get a house for 25 shillings. The eight of us children would go down for a fortnight. We'd get on the boats and we were so poor that my mother would buy two tickets - one for herself and one for one of us and the rest would hide.
We used to go away picnics everyday. At night walking home, we'd go through hedges and pick turnips and potatoes and get the fish from the boats coming in at the pier. Mother would send us to the place where they smoked the kippers and we'd get the broken ones.
Wednesday, 7 July 2010
Two African men are taking photos at the edge of the pavement. One has his shirt off and is striking a pose, head and shoulders back with hands on the belt of his trousers. Behind them, in the empty carpark two 10 year old girls are circling on bikes along with a younger boy of 7 or 8.
I remember that easy, fluid movement of cycling in the warm freedom of the summer holidays. The girls look smug and satisfied, dreamily tracing figures of eight around each other. The wee lad is taking an interest in the photo shoot and stops in front of the two men to watch. This attracts the girls' attention and they ride over and watch the men too.
Before long, one girl pipes up, "Gonnae take oor picshurr, gonnae. Gonnae take his," motioning to the wee boy.
This keeps up for a bit, craiking on and on about taking their pictures and then the men must decide to give in or they'll get no peace, and so they agree.
The wee ginger heided boy with his wee national health specs gets in a pic alongside the shirtless black man with his sort of rippling muscles. Then the two girls cycle up on either side of him and sit all gallus on the saddles of their bikes and the man takes a couple of snaps of them all together.
The Africans start to pack up their camera and the one puts on his shirt and buttons it up.
"Ah hate yous," says one of the girls as she starts to cycle again. For no apparent reason, she just calls out, "Ah hate yous two."
The black man says in surprise, "Hey, hey, what is all this?" and he's laughing at the same time.
She stops a bit and says in a sharp wee whine, "Ah hate you, right!"
The men are walking away and one turns and says over his shoulder, "Yeah, we hate you too," but he's still laughing.
And then she shouts, "Yer a blackie. Ah hate yer black face."
The men don't even look back. Just keep on walking.
The cycling resumes in lazy circles of 8.
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
"Aye, here," comes the reply, then, "Whit ye gonny dae wi' it? Hope it's no goin through a jeweller's windae?"
"Well if it is, Ah'm no worried," says Dan, "It's got your fingerprints on it."