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."