Saturday, 31 December 2011

Hogmanay Walk

 A good start to Hogmanay, I narrowly avoid being the household skittery winter this morning and later when someone suggests a walk in the country, I manage to persuade everyone it'll be more interesting to walk along the River Clyde. And it is, but the more energetic amongst us don't rate it as much of a walk due to very wet, slippery conditions.

Some mad Christmas celebrations have been going on down in this bender. The Community Reparation team who's been clearing sites in Govan over the past week should come here next. Or maybe this is where they were spending their lunch?
 A helicopter buzzes up through the air. Happy New Year to us all. Very best wishes for 2012!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

I have never seen 21st century Govan Cross as busy as it is today. Surging with shoppers, queues like an execution at Iceland where trolleys are filling up with frozen pizza, Indian meals for two, frosty fish fingers, boxes of biscuits and nets of gold coins. Next door in the big bargain shop, every checkout is checking through long lines of shoppers with baskets overbrimming with toys, perfume sets, cards, plants, everything a bargain.
Deans Superstore lives inside the centre now and is packed full of cheap bargains - although the shopkeeper rips off a man buying the cheapest, tattiest Santa hat you've ever seen.
"Much?" asks the man and the shopkeeper says, "Eh, em, eh . . . a pound." And the man actually gives him it. Wow. The man will not be making much of an impression with that pathetic piece of thin red and white felt on his head.
King of Bargains is the shop next door to Deans and sells lots of cleaning materials with no brand name on them at cheap, cheap prices. The contents of the bottles are weak and ineffective, like most of cheap bargains. Also on sale, is a range of Kelloggs cereals. A young mum pushing a pram calls to her mum, "Ma, 'mon, therrs crunchy nuts fur wan eigh'y nine, the big boax."
A few additional Christmas commercial ventures have been set up on trestle tables, including a man selling felt Christmas stockings, baby's first and so on, a table of trackie bottoms and taps, and another of costume jewellery and watches.
Doing a roaring trade is MobiShak, a most excellent emporium for all things mobile phone. It's run by an Asian dude who can supply you with any phone, any phone cover or fix anything - just about - that you've broken on the mobi.
In November, his lordship smashed the glass display screen of his very fancy phone and took it to the big phone shop at Braehead. He was given a quotation of £200 to replace the screen.
I took it to the wise man at MobiShak and it was fixed in 4 days for £40.
Today I'm checking out the phone covers. You can have your name in sequins or a flag or just a pattern, your choice.
Two girls are leaning over the counter whining. "How can somedy brek intae ma internet? Somedy's usin' ma internet. How can they dae that? Can you fix that?"
Mr Mobi is leaning back in his chair, he's a dead laid back guy and he's got a warm smile on his face, "Ye know what ladies, yees must no have a password oan yer internet."
They whine on, "How comes other people can go on ma internet?"
"That's what it is," he is nodding and smiling, "listen, Ah'm tellin' yees, that's it. Nae password."

Friday, 9 December 2011

Wheely Dangerous

Just out of the Post Office, I stop to window shop at the Pawn. My reverie is broken by a harsh cry, "Right, that's it. Get the polis! Ah'm gettin you cherged," and even more urgently, voice rising, "Cherged!"
I turn to see the guardian of Govan's Labradoodles, "Subway" coffee cup in one hand, cigarette in the other, storming towards an elderly gent in a wheelchair, one of Govan's double amputees.
A sturdy security man from the offices upstairs puts his hand up to stop her attack and tries, not with much confidence, to quieten her down.
"Naw, naw," she's shouting "He's no gettin away wi' this. This isnae the first time he's done this."
An elderly woman at her back starts to shout, "That's terrible you, leave him alane. He's a disabled."
"Ya sly auld pig," says the dogs' mum, "Ah seen ye, on yer way tae the pub, tryin' tae run them ower -don't think Ah never, an that's you at it again!" and she turns back and charges towards the old man again only to be stopped by the security man, who along with a colleague stands in her way.
She leans over as near to him as she can get, and says menacingly, "Ah seen you, an' am gonny get ye for it."
The old lady is getting frantic now and screeches, "Will you just leave that man alone!"
Now Missis Labradoodle turns her attention to the lady and whirls around yelling, "How would you like it if he tried to run your grandweans doon? Eh, how would you like that? That's whit he's done tae ma dugs. Aye, ye did," she accuses the gent, "Ye're always tryin it," and she speaks now to the gathering crowd, "Don't think Ah've no seen ye, tryin tae hit them - swervin' right intae them when they're tryin tae get oot yir road. Ye chase them on purpose ya wee. . " and here she breaks off as the security guard puts his hand on her shoulder and asks her to move away.
"Naw, leave us!" she wails.
Another old lady, tall and smiling, with curly brown hair is chuckling and saying to the three doggies, "Is that what that old rascal did, ma babies? Did he try to knock yous all down?"
Again, the refrain, "How would you like it if he kep' tryin' tae knock doon your grandweans?"

All the time the elderly man sits in his wheelchair, a benign smile upon his cheery face. He's wearing a furry helmet with ear flaps down, a scarf at his neck and a tartan travelling rug over the stumps where his legs should be. He looks kindly, bemused, calm.
Mama Labradoodle is riled to the limit and brandishing her coffee cup, screams "Watch it you, or ye'll huv nae heid tae go wi' yer nae legs!"

Thursday, 8 December 2011

There's An Awful Draught

After a politician's blunder of 2010 when Scotland slipped and slid to a halt in the snows, the Department of Transport, the Polis, the Education Authorities, the Cooncils, my Ma, are taking no chances and have all with one voice warned us to stay indoors today as there's a hurricane a-coming.

The wireless is broadcasting an amber alert. Some schools will close at 1pm as the winds will worsen in the afternoon. Then Glasgow decides nobody's to go to school today - except the teachers. (hee hee)
At half eight, a few little figures are blowing along with their wee hoods up and clutching their mammies' and daddies' hands. Inside the Govan Road Campus, there's quite a huddle of children standing behind the glass of the reception area, still wrapped up in their coats, hats and scarves.
Around 1pm a thundering hailstorm sweeps down Govan Road. As usual, I get my camera out after it's passed. Everyone is getting blown to the four winds.
The River Clyde has some mighty waves - good enough for surfing, maybe? It's well choppy!
Down by the dry docks, winds are wailing through the overhead wires and sad little shrubbery is swept left and right. The gates to the dry docks have blown open, and we enter, the wind shoving at our backs, strong gusts almost blowing us over
Even in the sheltered basin the wind violently disturbs the surface of the water.
This home is aptly constructed with a tarpaulin from GHA, Glasgow Housing Association, no less. Although buffetted by the storm, it's flapping wildly but looks safe enough. And what a location -
Just look at Glasgow, so beautiful on this amazing day. The River, ruffled by howling gales, the ever changing skies, the glassy BBC, the shiny Armadillo, the upthrust of the Science tower, all anchored by the city's heritage landmarks; the Finnieston Crane and the Waverley paddle steamer, holding it all together, keeping us firmly on terra firma.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Fires In The Fall

First I hear of the fire is a text from London asking if we've seen it. The Co-op Funeral building in Morrison Street is ablaze.  
From the dry docks at Stag Street a vibrant hot orange glow is menacing the Glasgow skyline. Black smoke billows up and drifts over the city, and from time to time there is a vicious burst of flames leaping up in a towering inferno. BBC says over 100 feet in the air. Sad about the building but Glasgow's firemen do a great job containing it. A busy month.
Sing a song of seasons! Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer. Fires in the fall! 
Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Scheme

Here’s a laugh. So, today I am in the queue at the Govan Cross Post Office – where a laugh is often to be had – and there’s young Paul in front of me. In his early twenties, he’s handsome, but sullen and looks ruthless – you wouldn’t want to mess with him. Not the type to hit old ladies or anything, but if you were his age group, you’d be wary. He's dressed smartly in navy joggers, pale grey hoodie.

Behind me are a couple of folks chatting and then in comes a right pair. Chas and Davy, again in their twenties, trackies and trainers, one with the slash mark from mouth to ear, but very chirpy and having a bit of a set-to about a lie one had told the other.

Paul catches one’s eye and nods, unsmiling. They greet him and begin to pull him into their conversation, chawsing each other until he begins to grin and agrees with one.
Someone mentions something about a scheme and that’s Davy off, ranting about that programme on the BBC called “The Scheme”.
“Where wiz that place?” asks Chas.
“Some teuchter dump,” says Davy, “Bunch a neds. Pure out a order man, gies Glasgow a bad name n that.”
“Wisnae in Glasgow,” says Chas.
“Aye,” agrees Paul, becoming quite animated, “they wur bang out a order, stuff they wur daein’. See the state a that guy. Whit wizis name?”
“Em, em, whit wizit? Eh, Marvin.”
“Aye, Marvin,” they all say and join together in a rendition of “Happy as Larry. Could not be happier.”
“See him, shouldnae huv hud a dug, shouldnae a been allowed a dug.”
“Aye, yer right,” Davy says. “See the programme makers, they went n got the dug a new hame doon in England.”
“Aye, Bullet, that wiz its name.”
“Bunch a neds,” Paul says again before getting called up to the counter.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Darkness Deepens

Fog has crept in overnight and Govan awakes to a dark morning of swirling vapours. And so it remains all day as the clock advances to noon when the mists grow whiter and then gradually darken deeper and deeper till night falls.
At teatime, business is brisk at the take-away food emporia along the Govan Road with people dashing in and out for their evening meal. In homes, pots are bubbling, ovens roasting and microwaves humming as cooks prepare dinner.
All at once every light on the southside switches off and we are plunged into instant darkness. For a moment there is silence, and then a shuffling and murmuring as attempts are made to check the electricity.
Outside on the streets all is quiet too until sounds of voices can be heard calling out through the gloom.
"Whit happened?"
"It's the electric - who didnae pay the bill"
Loud laughing, a whoop, a scream.
Silence again.
As your eyes adjust, faint shapes of people can be seen holding aloft little squares of light - the display panels of mobile phones.
In tenement windows flickering candles and flashing torchlight cast an eerie glow.
On the street, a woman glides along like a ghost, a burning candle on an ornate brass candlestick in her hand.

An hour or more passes before the cheery lamps are restored and delayed dinner is eaten and we catch up with the evening news and how the world has been doing since we dropped out of it for a little while.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Bonfire Night Re-instated

The winter sun sets and the moon rises over Govan. There's a bite in the air as we head out through the streets to see what's goin down in the hood. At Orkney Street the firestation's lit up like a Christmas tree and the big doors are open, revealing firemen swaggering about, sorting all their equipment as they await the call to battle.
We walk briskly along paths, criss-crossing, once crowded with tenements, now lying quiet in the darkness. Brighton Street, Neptune Street, Briton Street, Dunsmuir Street, up and down we go, feeling the chill on our faces, twisting round to see rockets exploding high above us. We are passing new housing, building sites, old tenement buildings, Govan Bowling Club, a school ancient and a school modern, and ground laid to waste. Now on to the grassy field which once was the back courts of Burndyke Street and the Govan Press printing works and the Chinese Seamen's Mission.

Sparklers are twinkling in the darkness and now and again a ground-based firework fizzes up and fizzles out. A dad's voice comes over the backs of Southcroft Street, highly nervous and charged with fear. "Don't move wi' that. Don't go near that. Keep away. Keep back. What have I told you. Will ye keep that still. Do you not know how dangerous these things are!"
Down the field a bit, a firework goes zipping sidieways and slams bang into some kind of structure. What is that, we wonder?
And then another rocket goes off and throws a pyramid of wood into light relief. Yes, it's real. A bonfire of some magnitude, amazingly constructed in the last twelve hours by wood gathered from who knows where!
It's set alight and catches beautifully, golden flames sweeping up to lick the sky.
We chat with a couple of fellas about how the wee lads' wood got snatched away and how industrious they've been in building it back again over the last 12 hours. Resilient, no stopping them in the face of adversity.
His lordship's got his fancy camera at the ready. "Nice gear you got there mate," says one sly man on the fringes of the fire. But that's as far as it goes. Just snap away and feel the heat on your face and the chill of the night at your back.
Fires are greedy and this beauty is fed throughout the evening by a committed band of wee boys who come and go with planks and great big sheets of wood. Where's it coming from? Plantation maybe?
So, here you go, enjoy this pictorial record of the spirit of Govan. Unquenchable.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Disaster At The Eleventh Hour

Friday, the 4th of November. One day to Guy Fawkes and while the children are at school, someone has reported the stash of wood, carefully gathered and stored in the middens of Southcroft Street over the past couple of weeks, in readiness for tomorrow night's bonfire.
Two (2), yes, two lorries have been sent by the cooncil and 5 or 6 men are loading up the planks, doors, sheets, logs, timber of all types, stripping this prime site of the fuel required for fireworks night.
Bonfire Night ruined again. How absolutely depressing. All the hard work and industry of the youngsters is snatched away at the eleventh hour.

Monday, 31 October 2011


Such a warmth in the air this morning. Everyone remarks on it; how mild it is, what a surprise, it's warmer outside than it is in. The first drops of rain start to fall from Govan skies around 5 o'clock and steadily increase to a dreary downpour.

Hallowe'en. What a dismal evening for the guisers.

The primary school children make it home dry at 3 o'clock in their wee costumes; witches, a nurse, a super mario, a skeleton, a vampire. But by 6 o'clock, the streets are pretty quiet with just a few folks running from one close to another with jackets over their disguises.
At home, we light a few candles and coorie doon to listen to some supernatural tales from old Govan.

Tillie tells a tale told to her by her auntie. It was 1936, a dark, cold January night. In the kitchen in Neptune Street, the kettle bubbled on the black range and the gas lamp cast eerie shadows around the room. You daren't cross by the bed recess for fear of what was lurking in the corners.
Tillie's bachelor uncles were amusing themselves and Peter produced a ouija board he'd acquired. He laid alphabet cards in a circle around the table and a card for yes and one for no. The brothers sat at the table asking questions. Their fingertips pressed lightly on top of a glass tumbler which was propelled by an energy, to spell out the answers.
All of the brothers? Well, no, not all, for Edward sat aloof at the window, smoking a cigarette and looking over disapprovingly.
A few simple questions were asked and answered. Edward tutted and shook his head at each one.
A lot of rubbish in his opinion.
"What is the name of the King who just died?" asked Tommy.
The glass began to whizz and spelled out K.I.N.G.  G.E.O.R.G.E. V
"Name the unbeliever in our midst!" cried Peter suddenly and before they could take a breath, the table began to rock back and forward on its legs. The swaying grew more and more chaotic and it began to cross the floor, heading for Edward who had risen to his feet as it clattered crazily towards him, before rearing up on two legs and pinning him against the wall.

On this Hallowe'en, the candles flicker at the window and we look round uneasily and peer into the corners of the living-room.

Now Davy recalls his childhood home, with parents who practised spiritualism. His mother held meetings in their house with visiting mediums and seances in the parlour. Trances and visions were commonplace. At one ouija board session, wee Davy kept tugging at his mother's skirts and interrupting things. L.I.T.T.L.E.  B.O.Y.  A.N.N.O.Y.S spelled out the spirit. He got put into the kitchen out the road for the rest of the night.
Mrs Scobie was a special visitor of some renown. She was an apport medium and used her power to materialise semi precious gems, which she presented to her host. Davy remembers his mother's treasures included opals, garnets, medallions, a set of five sapphires, to which was added on a subsequent visit, a large centrepiece sapphire of glinting blue.
We wonder what happened to the ill-gotten gains. Davy thinks his ne'er do well brother took them.

Outside the rain in still falling in sheets. The candlelight flickers and we have a squabble about who's to put the kettle on until it's decided that two will go together.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Wood Scavenging

Be prepared. Govan's boy scouts (of sorts) start bonfire wood collections for the big night. After the disappointing lack of bonfires at Guy Fawkes 2010, things are really looking up! Watch this space - which is Burndyke St, behind The Bells.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

One Fine Morning

It's a balmy end to September, and much of the UK is sweltering in heat with people swimming in the sea and eating pokey hats in the park. The west of Scotland hasn't quite made top temperatures, but is pleasantly mild.

Mid-morning, two children toddle along the pavement, brothers aged 5 and 3. The elder boy is dressed in trackies, t-shirt and trainers but the wee one is wearing pyjamas and has bare feet.
"Any ginger bottles?" squeaks the big brother as he passes the window.

Wow. It's a long time since children roamed shoe-less through Govan's streets.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A Criminally Close Encounter

I'm cutting diagonally across the road, heading to the close mooth and two men are walking straight along the pavement. They reach the close a wee bit before me and stop in the entry.

If you were casting common thugs for a film or a play, you'd definitely pick this pair.
One is a tall, burly man, big head shaved into the wid, blunt features, a dull, unfeeling expression. He's wearing a leather jacket and drainpipe jeans with a duffel bag over his shoulder and is wheeling a bike along.
The other man is wee-er and also wears a leather jacket. He has more of the latin look, swarthy with the obligatory scar traced from jaw to corner of mouth. And, sorry to say, he's kind of manky too.

As I say, I reach the close just after them and the big one is squatting down, opening the toggles of the bag and pulling it apart to reveal a very fancy camera with long lens. The wee man isn't looking at it though, he's turning round to look at me, with a quizzical look on his face, like, who're you and whatjehinkyerdaein?

The outward me is looking down into the bag of purloined goods and looking up again and then at the wee man and then at the big man, by which time, they're both looking at me strangely. We're all only inches away from each other's faces.

The inward me is thinking, oh mammy daddy, what are you doin'? They've stolen a camera and you've walked right up to them at the very moment of exchange. And what's more, you're staring right into their swag bag.
And I just seem to go on automatic pilot and buzz Wee Raberta's. Open Sesame - I disappear through the escape hatch and ascend to safety, toot sweet.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Green Fingers Fingered

Nobody's got electricity up ma pal's close. It's on account of the Police raiding the flat of a local market gardener and switching off his lights at the main box for the building. In so doing, everyone else up the stairs has been left without leccy as well.

The botanist has been working away at a little nursery in his home, cultivating leafy Cannabis Sativa, watering and nurturing it till it reaches maturity and is ripe for harvest. Apparently every square inch of floor space is covered by the illegal crop, windows are blacked out, heat lamps are glowing all day and all of the night.

You see quite a few windows with shiny, reflective paper pasted over them in Govan's tenements. They say it's what the growers do to keep the heat in the house for the plants' welfare.
With fuel costs sky-rocketing, maybe we should all try it - the shiny paper I mean.
Ma pal says the plants are insatiably thirsty and need about 70 gallons of water a day - or was that a week? Anyway, if you decide to keep them, you can't be neglectful or they'll wilt.
Apparently when you see helicopters flying low over Govan, that's what they're looking for - signs of heat radiating from flats that have furnaces blasting and roasting hot lamps burning twenty-four seven.

A leaflet posted through your door may tell you to watch out for tell-tale signs: windows blacked out with shiny mirrorlike paper, only sporadic visitors to the house, deathly silence (like no telly). They don't mention the constant sound of running water, but surely this must also be a sign.
If you do notice anything like this, then you should notify the housing association. They in turn will notify the Police, who will come round and break the door down and smash the electrical box in the close and you'll end up with no electricity like ma pal did.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Zombie Wars

Glasgow is masquerading as Philadelphia this month as Brad Pitt and a Zombie army film a big budget movie, World War Z. The zombie den is in the Big Shed down at Riverside and today, filming has moved from George Square to Clydebrae Street.
On the Govan Road, there's a long line of film unit vans and security men at the top of Stag Street. Queues of luxury cars and mini coaches bring cast and crew into Govan for a day of indoor filming.

At the far end of the street a few ladies from the hairdressers, towels round their wet hair, have walked down to catch-a-glimpse of the stars.

Across the roof of the Big Shed, a man in khaki is tiptoeing gingerly. He dreepies down to the ground, asking if we've seen any big cars driving by.
"I'm Press," he says, brandishing his camera. We cast him a disparaging look. A wee digital snapper hangs round his neck, nothing like the two super long lens cameras the man fae The Sun was carrying earlier.
He continues, "Aye, I've seen right inside the Shed, it's made to look like the Far East. No seen Brad yet," and on further questioning he admits he's the correspondent from Castlemilk's local rag.
Ladies abandon their hair appointments at Jacquie's on Govan Road, to gaze longingly down towards the glamorous film set of The Big Zombie Shed.
Cast stroll through Govan - yes, it's Brad at the back.
This lad will sort out the zombies
And if he cannae, this wumman wi the dugs will
Brad says Hi as he returns from a trip up to Coffee Joe's.
A while later The Sun's photographer appears again, loooong lens slung over his shoulders.
"Watch out for a dark blue beemer. He'll be in it," he tells us.
Aw, right . . . we say in our most blasé tone.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Sunshine And Tears

Another hot bright day.
"Ah'm very sorry," A man stops me, "very sorry t' get in your way,"
Drunk, I think, but stop for a minute.
"D'ye know about the yairds that used to be here?"
I say, yeah, a wee bit.
"Well, ah'll tell ye . . " and he continues with a tale of working life in the shipyards and what he did and what he didn't do and what was here and what was there.
All the time I'm thinking this could be quite interesting if he wasn't sloshed. But as it is, there's a fair bit of rambling.

While he talks, I can't take my eyes off his, which are the clearest, brightest blue you ever did see with tiny black pinprick pupils.
"Ah'm sorry if ye think ah'm drunk," he says from time to time, "Ah just have to have a wee bit to help me cope. Ye know, ah lost a' ma weans."
And his face screws up with ready tears. He gulps in a deep intake of breath and lets it out in a heavy sigh.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Lazy River

The sun has been blazing in the sky for days now. This morning is fine and the sun waxes in intensity as the hours draw on till noon. Groups gather on the scraggy banks of the Clyde to picnic on Red Biddy and its modern day equivalents. Boys, with no work and no school, congregate in the heat of the day, throw stones in the water and lie on the banks, their faces upturned to the sun.
On a promontory overlooking the gently flowing river, three 10 year olds strip down to their shorts and warily enter the stream, wading in to waist level and bobbing up and down in the waves created by a passing speed boat.
At the graving basin on Stag Street, a few teenagers look prepared to leap into the water far below. Fortunately, they just cast a line into it instead. Wonder what kind of fish would come up out of there?

Monday, 25 July 2011

A Ribbing

Half four in the afternoon. Smashing weather again and at the little white flats by the river, a group of neighbours, mostly pensioners, are looking up at an open window from whence cometh the screams of a man, "Oh, oh, oh, that's ma ribs, naaaw, ma ribs! AAAAHHH!"

The neighbours look calmly up at the window. Some shake their heads, one laughs and they return to their conversations.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Hide 'n' Seek

What an absolutely amazing day it's been! Hot skies and sun radiating warmth upon our beloved riverside home.

The blue, blue evening is turning to gold and through the weedy banks of the River Clyde, little voices can be heard, calling in hoarse whispers, "Who is it wur catchin'?" followed by wee feet running swiftly and swishings through the undergrowth.
Further along the bank, a clever whistle pierces the air, signalling some manoeuvre to members of one of the teams in this late night game of Hide and Seek.
All of a sudden, a rush through the tall grasses and just as quickly, silence.

This is one of them long summer evenings when you just never want a game to end.
And as this is the twenty-first century and we're in Govan, there's no danger of anyone getting shouted in.
So, play on weans and enjoy the good weather while it lasts!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Ginger Bottles

It's the summer holidays. A wee boy kicking about the streets approaches our open door and calls in to ask if we've got any ginger bottles.

He's in luck and as he waits for them to be brought out I look at his slight figure in the doorway; the sun behind him, his short ruffled hair, baggy tee-shirt, shorts, scruffy sandshoes, his face in shadow, eyes darting about from side to side.
And the background music on the radio is the voice of Louis Armstrong crooning, "And I think to myself . . . what a wonderful world".

The wee boy snatches the glass bottles and speeds off and I feel like we could just as easily have been in 1971 as 2011.
Govan's in a bit of a time warp, ya know?

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Tillie Tells A Tale Of Childhood Street Games

School holidays are underway and children are out playing in Govan's streets, as they ever were. Today, on her 75th birthday, Tillie tells another tale from her Govan childhood. Thanks and many happy returns!

My era for street game was from 1942 to 1950 approximately, when I was aged 6 to 14 years.
Most of our games involved running about and a lot of competition; games like Kick the Can and Rounders.  Aleevio was where the person who was het had to collect as many others as he could find and place them in a den. Then when he was out looking for the rest, one of the free people could release the prisoners in the den. Most of us children just ran about wild, trying to follow the rules.

After the war the air raid shelters lay open and unattended and children played in them during the day. I was forbidden by my parents to go inside them and being me, I obeyed, but couldn't help looking in as I was passing. They were dark and gloomy and smelled stale and damp. My friend told me that her daddy said that drunk men slept in them at night.

We also played on our roller skates out on the road. The surface was tarmacadam, perfect for our skating games. The only traffic was the odd horse and cart.
In the evenings, my cousin and I used to play on our skates on Edmiston Drive outside the Rangers Football Park and no cars or other motor vehicles ever came along.
We played lots of games on the road. We pretended the road was a river and we had to get across without being caught by some evil being that lived in it. We had little chants which went something like;
Person on pavement says, "Master, Master, may I cross your Golden Water?”
Person in water(road) answers, " How much will you pay me?”
Pavement - "How deep is your water?"
Water – “ Put your finger in and see."
Pavement - " Oh, I've lost my golden ring!"
Water – “Put your hand in and see."
Pavement - " Oh, I've lost my golden bangle!”
Water – “Put your foot in and see."
Pavement - "Oh I've lost my golden shoe!"
Water - " Swim for it!"
Pavement jumps into water and Water tries to catch him. If he does then they change places and the game begins again.

We were never at a loss for a game to play and plenty of children to play with on Govan's streets. Our imagination was boundless.

Saturday, 9 July 2011


Shop local. That's the ethical way to purchase your goods nowadays. Use the shops on the high street, avoid the big chains and encourage local entrepreneurs.
With that in mind, I make my way along Govan Road towards "Govan Carpets", a long narrow shop with pillars of floor coverings lined up against the walls.

At the kerb, the Govan Carpets van is being loaded up by a couple of guys and a wee boy. Standing at the entrance is the proprietor, a slim, wiry older gent, brylcreemed hair and blue tinted specs.
"How ye doin'? What ye after the day? Come on in an have a check of this - it's your chance to give to charity. Ye know the Govan charity, it's on the radio, you know the Govan radio, I've been raising a lot a funds for them. Ah bought 200 pineapples and Ah've been auctioning them for the Govan charity. C'mon in" he says, ushering me through the door, "Here, look at this, it's the last pineapple."
I look down at a puny fruit,
"Just a donation, right, whatever you think, let's say a fiver."
I slip my purse out and unzip it saying,
"Em, dunno if I've even got a fiver on me."
"Right then," says he, "Just give me all yer change, have you got five pounds worth?"
"Em, not sure, maybe about £3 or so. Ah'm in to see about a carpet."
"Right, what you after? See this carpet on the floor, it's a beauty, been down 5 year and look how good it's lasted. A lot of feet in here ye know. What's your measurements?"
"I think it's 3 x 8 metres but I'm not sure exactly. How much is it a metre?"

By a neat sleight of hand, the change in my hand transfers to his pocket, his mouth rattling on nineteen to the dozen.
"Right, ye local? Ok then, he'll go and measure up for ye."
He's referring to a young version of himself who's just come in the door of the shop,
"Come on, you'll take the lady in the van and get her room measured up, eh."
The guy is shaking his head, "Away you go and measure," he says, "Ah've just put ma dinner out."
I intervene, "No, no need," I'm saying, "Just give us a price just now - Ah like the carpet we're standing on."
"Aye, it's a stoatir. Here, get a price for the wumman. Ye can get it in charcoal or broon or, does it come in a cream?"
"Aye." The son sits himself down at a cluttered desk and starts tapping a calculator and spouting out numbers. The old da goes out on the pavement to chat to somebody.
"One point one one nine, times three times - right, Ah can give you that for a hundred n forty pound. Then there's the carpet fitter. He'll dae it for aboot eighty pound."
Before he can continue the old man butts in, "Make that sixty pound, he'll dae it for the wumman for sixty."
The young man shakes his head a wee bit again, "Right, awright, awright, but he'll need a fair bit a glue for that size, it's gonny be twenty pound for the glue. Ye payin cash?"
"Yeah, Ah would be, yeah, cash."
"Ok, we'll dae it for a hundred and twenty."
"Ah'll have to check the size then and come back in," says I.
"You go ahead, " says the old man and losing interest in me, he wanders back out onto the street.
My eye falls on the pineapple and I hesitate, wondering if I should lift it and take it away.
"Auction off yer pineapple for another fiver," I say to the old guy as I pass by,
"Aye, right ye are hen."

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Ships On The Clyde

This day is warm and sunny, white clouds sailing high in a blue, blue sky. The river runs lazily by whilst across on the north shore, the carpark of the Riverside Museum is full of transport and bustle. Flags flutter merrily high on the mast of the tall ship.

A little pickup truck with a tatty wee speed boat atop a trailer is parked on Clydebrae Street. A man, in his fifties, trim with dark receding hair is standing in the cabin, painting it with a mini roller and white gloss paint. A young guy, very trendy in an Eastern European style - tight jeans and t-shirt, shiny shoes - is briskly brushing the royal blue hull.

"Where you goin' sailing?" I enquire.
The older man carries on painting after flicking his eyes up to look at me quickly and away again.
The younger makes a sound like, "Nnnyeah," and then continues, "We perhaps go to, eh, put in, eh, sea, hah, we 'ope."
My companion, His Lordship, is very interested in maritime vessels and puts in a question or two regarding horsepower and suchlike.
The fella answers as best as his command of English will allow.
The older man's eyes flick up and down a few more times, but his face is stern and unexpressive.

"You goin' to launch it over there?" I ask, pointing to the Stag St. ferry.
"Ha ha!" he laughs, "Hokay, nnnyeah, will do."

Friday, 24 June 2011

Kittle Corner

A corner is always a great place to congregate, and even better, is a corner on crossroads. You have four ways to look up and down, and three other corners to keep your eye on. The dynamics of the corners vary, from darkly brooding to high spirited, from the exchange of pleasantries to bubbling cauldrons of trouble.
It still fills me with wonder when I walk between the tenements of Shaw Street, that an orchard once grew where Govan Housing is now building their skanky flats, all gless and cheap materials.
I read here that the corner of Shaw Street and Govan Road was once called Kittle Corner and that folk were maybes a bit scared to walk by there on account of getting a slagging.
Yeah, I can relate to that. It can be daunting to scuttle past the New Harmony Bar, when the drinkers are standing at the doorways, lighted cigarettes in hand, making drink-addled comments or shouting raucously to the other corners and sometimes at you.

This evening is grey and warm and at the Shaw Street door of the New Harmony, stands a couple of men and a woman chatting together. Another women is further away from the group, standing at the kerb, watching them and sometimes addressing them.
It's been dead warm today and the heat remains in the air, someone actually has a parasol up in the tiny cemented garden in front of their dusty windows.
The woman at the kerb has got on a padded quilty kind of coat, grey-ish white, buttoned up and trousers tucked into a pair of boots. She's in her 50s but her fair hair's pulled back into a high ponytail and she's carrying a message bag.
One of the men at the pub door is wearing long baggy shorts and a red football top and the other is old school, with a shirt and trousers held up by braces. The woman is dressed for summer, barmaid style, strappy top and capri pants.

The women are conversing back and forward and it goes along the lines of, "Aye, did ye well?", "Aye Ah did", "Naw, ye nivver," and so on.
Padded coat starts to walk towards the pub door and the other woman draws up and then boof, padded coat reaches forward and smacks pub lady on the face. All of a sudden there are legs and arms flailing all roads as the young chap tries manfully to restrain the pair, attempting to separate them and keep them apart. Pub lady has managed to grab padded coat by the shoulders and is pushing her head downwards onto the street when another man skips out the pub door and from behind, firmly takes hold of her arms, forcing her to let go. This leaves the first man to deal with padded coat and as suddenly as the attack flared up, it seems to die down with padded coat getting an intense talking to and the pub lady being snaffled quietly inside.

Kittle; awkward, dangerous . . . ticklish?

Friday, 3 June 2011

A Spot Of Sightseeing

The floats trundle off towards Elder Park and this year lots of people linger around Govan Cross, posing for pictures with the Govan Baby and then promenading along the banks of the Clyde where final preparations are being made for the opening of the Riverside Museum.

Strains of Scots fiddle music from the tall ship soar across the water, where many of us stand with our noses pressed up against the wire railings, keeping us out of the rrrrre-generation of the rrrrriver.

On our way back along Govan Road, we see Ladbrokes glass door has been smashed but all is harmonious in the warm atmosphere of Govan's street corners.

Oh Aye, The Fair

Hang on, here's the medical side of the Southern team, just let out for the evening.
A Fire Engine from the line-up of vintage vehicles bringing this year's procession to a close. Yet again, thanks for your sterling work in the great chip pan fire of 73,

Wee Raberta got a lucky bag off Sunny Govan Radio. I never, but she let me take a picture of hers.