Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Where Is Now The Merry Party?

Hogmanay. There is a sense of sadness in the air as evening falls, and the hours of the old year slip away. Memories of times long gone conjure up a strange yearning.
"Where is now the merry party?" my Granny used to say on evenings such as this; the words from a song her daddy used to recite in their room and kitchen in Neptune Street.

Courtesy of the www. I find it now: 

Where is now the merry party I remember long ago?
Laughing round the Christmas fires, brightened by the ruddy glow. 
Or in summer's balmy evenings, in the field upon the hay?
They have all dispersed and wandered, far away, far away.

Some have gone to lands far distant and with strangers made their home.
Some upon the world of waters, all their lives are forced to roam;
Some are gone from us forever, longer here they might not stay:
They have reached a fairer region, far away, far away.

There are still some few remaining, who remind us of the past, 
But they change as all things change here, nothing in this world can last:
Years roll on and pass forever, what is coming, who can say?
Ere this closes, many may be far away, far away.
Miss M. Lindsay 1909

And on that melancholy note, may I wish all Govanites, those still few who remain and those now far away, a guid new year, 2014. 

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Testing Times

Failing fairy lights mean a visit to shops that I didn't intend to go anywhere near today. At least an early start will put me ahead of Christmas Eve frenzy and the roads seem quiet as I approach the associated dairies shupershtore, passing the polis with confidence in my well oiled, deep treaded tyres, taxed and insured motor. I slip smoothly into a parking bay and lift my bag, about to make a hasty belt into the shop to make the ultra quick purchase. But no! I lift my eyes to see a big, overweight polisman bumbling towards my window. Whit?
Turns out I don't have a current MOT; ran out 3 weeks ago. Thank goodness this is early morning as I have to go and sit in the back of the polis motor along with their white bunnets and cold coffee cups. Affrontit!
It's actually really untidy in the back seat, papers all over the place and I have to move stuff to sit down and end up sitting on a folder.
The pair of them are sitting in the front and ask all my details and I have to show my driving licence and I presume they're running all sorts of checks on a radio thing at the front.
At first, I am quite bright and, oops sorry, just forgot, run up to Christmas, dead busy and all that. Then when I'm sitting and the one starts on about giving me a white slip so I can pay a One Hundred Pound Fine within 28 days - but don't worry, no points on my licence - I start to feel a bit hard done by and I slump into a misery of feeling sorry for myself on Christmas Eve.
They both call me by my first name throughout - dead pally - and apologise a coupla times for stopping me. It's just that there's an audit trail to these things, says the one and the other says, as I get out the car, that he's sorry, and hopes I won't let this spoil the rest of my day.

First call is to my trusty Govan garage - aw help! can you get me a mot today? Christmas Eve?
"Aye, not a problem. Just bring it in and wu'll get it sorted afore we finish," says my favourite mechanic in his customary laid back manner.

The workshop is dark and chill, the grime and petrol soot of decades are ingrained into the bricks, workbenches, tools, overalls, pores of the skin. Today, the big doors are shut over in the wind down for Christmas. MOT certified, I am effusive with thanks.
"What ye's doing for Christmas?" I enquire.
"Ach well, me n the lady's had a fa'oot, so nothin'. That's life, heh heh."
"Me n a'," pipes up a voice from a coal black corner where the other mechanic is wiping his hands with an oily rag. "Ah've fell oot wi mine an'a'! Ha ha, that's us a singles garage, if any yer friends are interested."
"Ye'll be needin' this then," I say, as I hand over a wee bit of Christmas cheer.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Christmas Prize!

Awright Govanites, the correct answer to the question posed on Monday; "What is wrong with this picture"? is that the Govan baby and drinking fountain has disappeared. 
Berd saw workmen tampering with it this week, so here's hoping the corporation don't lose it in a shed for another twenty years. 

For anybody who got the right answer to the Christmas quiz, here is your prize: lots of photos of the best of Watson's baking this season. The puff pastry mince pies were delish with custard. 

Awramerribest Govanites, wherever you are! 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Fires In The Fall

"Sing a song of seasons, Something bright in all . . ."
Brightening up these dark days are nights out; perty nights, cabaret and karaoke, discos and dinner dances, all you can eat buffets and the full festive menu.
In the damp and narrow aisle of a Govan emporium, a discussion on the merits of Glasgow's hotels, restaurants, pubs and clubs is getting lively.
Liz has been to two already, one was a tribute night, no very good, with loadsa curry which was quite good. Well, it was reasonable. The other was . . . Carol interrupts. Her work's going doon the watter, for an overnight at the Seamill Hydro and some people are booking a room tae the Sunday.
"Ah'm lookin forward tae it. It's a' peyed a'ready," and she nods her blonde head, pursing her lips and closing her eyes with an air of self satisfaction.
Liz finishes her report on the second night out at her part time night job which was just a dinner and the meal was lovely and good value for the money.
Liz has a cousin, Mags, in tow who doesn't work and who looks about vacantly at the bottles of ginger towering around them. Her head and neck are making sudden, jerky movements and her eyes are darting from side to side.
"You a'right?" Liz quizzes her aggressively.
Mags pushes past her towards the front door, pulling a fag out of her pocket and lighting it with a yellow lighter. She stops by the fresh rolls lying in a bread basket in their poly bags, and takes a draw, holding the cigarette between two fingers, her knuckles grimy and her nails coated in chipped varnish of duck egg blue. Mags holds the smoke at the back of her throat, reclines her head and closes her eyes, before making a lengthy exhale and exiting the shop with a skip.

Monday, 16 December 2013

What's Wrong In This Picture?

A wondrous Govan Cross on a winter's night; a full moon sails through the dappled sky, bathing the world in an ethereal glow. The rolling hills of the transport museum rise on the north bank, and in the warm heart of Govan, the Christmas tree is restored and resplendent.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Tiiimmmmberrrr

"Loud blew the cauld winter winds", and all through the night it hammered at the windows and made you coorie deeper into the duvet and pillows. It gathers greater strength at daybreak and violent gusts reach their peak just as the weans are passing through the school gates. 

The tannenbaum is down. 
"Shnapped", as mw says. 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Govan Lights Up Our Lives

It's a workaday Tuesday on Govan Road. Posters and a banner on the P.I. proclaim "Govan Loves Christmas". 
The Govan Benevolence Committee pulls out all the stops on The Squerr with pavilions, blaring Christmas hits, elves and even the real Santa magically appearing atop a wooden sleigh hurtling all the way to the Elder Park Library, pulled by a real live reindeer! 
This year's tree is a fulsome fir, stationed in front of the Govan Baby, who is in good company tonight as the Govan urchins clamber up and over it throughout the countdown to the fairy light switch-on. 
Three, two, one and the lights burst into an electric twinkle, and no fence this year!
Expressions of delight resonate on cold wee faces and the benefactors smile warmly and feel the glow that comes from getting it right for every child.
"The giein haun aye gets" and so it is for the artzgradz assisting the poor, who are always among us.
Govan gratitude is heartfelt and extends from generations long gone to us here today. Thank you.
video

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Feeding The Flames

video

Exit, Pursued By A Rocket

Usual lighting up time is 6 o'clock and so we wander down to join in some bonfire cheer. All is in darkness except for streaks of flame that fail to catch and fizzle out around the pallet tower. We're waiting in the shelter of the tenements of Clynder Street, and it seems as though Guy Fawkes might be safe tonight.
I go in to the wee red shop to buy a packet of Maltesers to stave off the cold. A glamorous Asian lady, in classic western styling and coiffure, serves me. She looks like she's just taken up her post at the till, serving cairry-oots and overpriced pot noodles, after a day as a Solicitor in Glasgow's city centre.
A couple of boys saunter in and purchase a bottle of turps, just a wee one though, and go back out.
Amazingly, it's done the trick and by the time I come out, there's a flaming mass of fire over the road.
This is the most feral fire I think I've been at. Actually, scaring the living daylights out of us. There aren't any big people at this at all - not even ruffian uncles who are quite good at passing the kids fireworks to light and keeping a semblance of order.
This year, it's a free for all - boys lighting roman candles and then holding them horizontally, throwing them at each other, throwing them at girls who are standing by in a huddle. A golden fountain is chucked from one boy to another to another to another. Rockets are set off along the ground and at one point, we actually have to take to our heels and start running.
The temperature is dropping and the wind is picking up. The air is redolent of burning wood and gunpowder.

Build A Bonfire, Build A Bonfire, Put the Planners On the Top

Got a few pallets to get rid of and we drop them off on the sperr grun between Briton St. and Iona St. In the background stands the last multi storey on Broomloan Road, awaiting demolition, and although it's good to see them come down, it's depressing to consider the low cost, shoddy housing that will arise in their place.

Never mind all the artsy projects swirling about Govan, putting money in the pockets of the BAHons. What Govanites need instead, is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Even those who have departed their riverside home for lands far afield, want to know why our streets, tenements, closes, homes, firesides, were demolished and laid waste.
Let's get the planners back to answer the questions we all have. 
We could make it civilised, say in the Govan Town Hall or the PI. 
If you couldn't make it from Oz or Canada, then we could have a skype link. 
The powers that used to be - and probably still be - could give a background to their thinking at the time.
And then take the floor for open questions. 
And then we could put our side of things and tell them what they actually should have done. 
And then they should apologise for their rampant vandalism without due care and attention to our lives and heritage.
And then we'll all go home, none the wiser, and left with this sorrowful site/sight and warm memories.
Would a human sacrifice to the gods of football help at RFC?
Look at these beautiful doors, solid. In the background is the Gaelic Church, still standing but in a sad state of general disrepair with broken windows. Wonder if the doors came out of there?

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Hallowe'en BakeOff

Every Hallowe'en, my ma made a cake covered in green icing, with a walnut nose and hazelnuts for eyes and teeth. Just thought about this; must have a go next year when hopefully I've got more time. 
But for now, a trip to the master baker, Watsons of Shaw Street is a fine Govan Hallowe'en tradition. 
Below are my purchases at this evening's house Hallowe'en party. 
You can't even imagine how delicious this cake is - soft, gloopy fondant icing, filled with cream and a delicate sponge.
Watson's is the preference, but I'm not ignoring the bakery chain at Govan Cross. All shops welcome in Govan, is what I say.
A jolly old geezer asks for "Wan a thae cakes wi the wife oan it."
"Whit's that?" says the assistant, who's dressed up as an old fashioned waitress, and then it dawns on her and everyone in the queue as he points to a cake with a witch on it.  "You're terrible, you!" and everybody laughs.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Plant Survey

On the palings at Clydebrae Street, there's a notice to say that a plant survey is being carried out and you've to mind yer head.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Ha-Ha-Happy!

Nice morning in Govan. Don't know why, but it seems like everyone's in a good mood. 
I take a coupla snaps on the iphone as I come out of Watsons. Just because. 
Govan's a beautiful place today. Look at the Shaw Street mansion! Beats anything the west end has to offer. And, don't take that as an invitation to cross over here, Westenders. Back in yer boats. 

As I'm driving round Langlands Road, a wifie steps off the kerb and into the path of my car and I have to brake suddenly. Her face breaks into a smile and she holds up her hand, throws up her eyes and mouths, "Ma fault". I lift my hand cheerily and wait for her to move out the road. 
Hey, we're all happy go lucky and gallus in Govan. 

Monday, 14 October 2013

Taxman's Out To Seize Your Pennies

The weans is aff for the October week and the weather is dismal. At the shops, they are traipsing round after weary adults, keeping up incessant whines. In Iceland, I can hear - but not see - an altercation taking place a few aisles along from me. A young boy's voice asks, "Can Ah get . ." followed by an item of food, say jelly, or soup, or a packet of chocolate digestives and the response is a very loud and harsh cuss word and snarl. This is repeated several times. 
At first you don't notice it, but as it goes on and on, I become interested in seeing the owners of the voices. I cut across the shop and by the cupasoups, I see a granny - trendy n chubby - wearing her hair in a high pony tail and pulling a shopping trolley. Her overly-curvy pins are clad in leggings, decorated with little, glittery skulls and her bag has a matching sequinned skull clasp. 
Her tormentor is a tracksuited teen, just. He is the master of a constant stream of requests. He lifts packet after packet and tin after tin. "Can Ah get," and the only reply he ever gets is negative and peppered with expletives. 

Out the front, next to the Job Centre lies Hector the Inspector of HMRC. His owner has formed him from an old jaiket, trousers and his own trainers, all stuffed with plastic bags. The wee ginger entrepreneur is about the same age as the Iceland greetinface, but this guy's very cheery indeed.
"Scuse me, could you spare some change? Penny for the guy," and he smiles as he takes the coins from people's hands and says politely, "Thank you and you have a nice day now."
One of the labradoodles gazes at this worthy candidate for Bonfire Night;
Hector the Inspector of HMRC

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Guys And Ghouls

We have passed the Autumn Equinox and there are many celebrations to prepare for which will see us through dark winter nights.
Today, I near die of shock at the sight of two ghouls on Napier Terrace, sorting out their guising paraphernalia.
Further along at McKechnie Street, two boys are waiting to accost passers-by.
"Penny for the guy," they cry. I stop to have a squek and get my purse out.
They have been busy forming guy from their big brother's trackies, stuffed with asda bags. Black woolly gloves for his hands and kinda fancy trainers for his feet.
Never mind Guy Fawkes, in these colours, he could represent any one of the eedjits on the board up the road. And they'd get the roasting they deserve!
His face is a plastic bag, stuffed with papers.
"You forgot to put a face on it," says I.
"Naw we nivver. Look!"
Haha! Masking tape with a eyes drawn on and a line for a mouth. A woolly blue hat held on with tape.
"So, where's your bonfire this year boys?" I ask.
They're vague about that. We'll worry about that later. Time now for preparations.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Tillie Tells A Tale: When Aunt Bea Came From Canada

My daddy's Uncle Dick emigrated from Govan to Canada as a young man. He was successful in business and married a well to do lady named Bea. They had no children.
Over the years, he kept in close contact with his family in Scotland, sending letters and cards, and during the war we received parcels of food and clothes. I'll never forget the navy blue reefer jacket he sent which had a zip going up the front - something nobody had at that time. It was like an ice skating jacket with embroidered snowflakes on the front and everyone admired it. 

When Dick was about 70, he was planning his first holiday home with his wife to visit the family. One night before their arrival, I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth. As I was about to open the door, I suddenly felt afraid and had a strong feeling that there was someone on the other side of it, an elderly person. After a few moments, I felt silly, opened the door and saw no one. 
The next morning, we received word that Uncle Dick had died. My mother wondered if Dick had got a chance to come and see his family in Govan before he went on his way. 

My granny, who was Dick's sister, wrote to Dick's widow and before long, Aunt Bea decided she would make the trip on her own.
On her arrival in Glasgow, Bea booked into the Central Hotel. My granny was in awe of her and felt nervous about meeting her, so my mummy, as the most confident of the family, was sent to greet her and take her on a tour. 
Bea took her to dinner in the hotel restaurant and ordered steak, a dish none of us would ever have been able to afford. After taking one bite, Bea called for the waitress and said, 
"You see this steak, I could sole and heel my shoe with it". 
My mummy was mortified! Bea was quite a lady, but turned out to be very, very nice.
The following day, my mother brought Bea to visit us all in Govan. She showed Bea her and my daddy's bedroom and invited her to stay. Bea accepted and spent the rest of her holiday at our house.
One day, when Bea was visiting at my granny's room and kitchen in Elphinstone Street, she - unfortunately - had to use the outside toilet. 
On the way home, she confided to my mother, "Oh, I'm so glad that Dick didn't see how his sister was living in that little pokey house. If he had seen that, it would have really upset him. And you'll never guess what she uses for toilet paper - newspaper, cut into squares, hung up on a nail on the door!"
My mummy just kept quiet. She knew that Dick would have been well aware of how his sister was living and that she was probably in better conditions than when he'd left their home aged 20.
After this visit, Bea came back to Scotland nearly every year for a holiday and stayed with my mummy and  my daddy, who she said was very like his Uncle Dick. 

She always said my daddy would inherit her fortune. She lived till in her 90s, and my daddy got his inheritance, which he generously shared out between all of the family.
This photograph was sent to us by Bea, who is the third lady from the left. The reverse of it reads: "We are just going to have a drink - the famous Banana Daquiri in St. Thomas Virgin Islands up in the mountains."

Thursday, 26 September 2013

ElderPark Model Boat Club

 A model boat sails serenely over the still waters of the ElderPark boating pond this September afternoon. The boats are hand-crafted and have brought interest and fun to the park for many years.
As long as we can see this sight, we'll know all is (pretty much) well in Govan.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Q Busters

I usually wait for my prescription in the chemist's shop. It doesn't take too long and if I don't, then I'm bound to forget to go and collect it for days. During my wait, I have a scour around the shelves, look at the hair dyes and cosmetics, perfumes - nothing too expensive, in fact all very cheap, a rack full of budget vitamin pills and cough meds.
The door pushes open and a young lady - a big tumshie, as my uncle in Lorne Street would've described her - stumbles in, followed by a stick thin guy with a shaved head and the trace of a knife-line. She plumps down on the padded seats and breathes heavily, her eyes popping and her shoulders heaving. The guy is bobbing up and down at the window, giving a running commentary, 
"That's them oot the van. Whit's he daein'? Wherr's he gauin'?"
I look out and see a police van parked in the distance with an officer walking around it and then getting back into the front. 
The sales assistant lady asks in a direct voice, "Yes, can I help you?" and the girl, without turning round, wheezes, "I'm in to get my prescription." 
And now the sales lady is snookered, because it's not ready yet and so the pair are entitled to wait. So the sales lady waits too, in behind the counter, with her arms folded and one beady eye fixed on them and the other on the police activity outside. 
The door bursts open again and a shock headed scraggy guy bounds in, laughing out loud and ducks down by the girl and whispers to her and then stands up and talks in a low voice to the guy who is still watching the police van. 
The sales assistant speaks out with some authority, "Are you in to buy something?"
The guy stands up respectfully straight. "Ah'm waiting for my friends," and then resumes the low voices conversation. 
As the police van pulls away, the pair move over to the seated girl. "They were efter x, jist as well we went in here." 
"Aye," says the pal. 
"They wouldnae huv got it oot me anywey," he says assertively.
The girl's eyebrows are painted on in the shape of arches and her cheeks are rosy and round and her eyes are still wide. " Aye, jist as well, cos we know whit you're like."
And at that, the assistant calls out in a vexed voice and with a fierce grimace, "Prescription for Docherty."

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Christmas Is Coming

We lunge from skies blue and golden to skies leaden grey as this morning we wake up to dripping rain, and yesterday's bright sun is a dim memory.

Isa picks up a make-up set with mirror and eyeshadows. "Would that dae a fourteen year aul'?" she asks me. I am browsing and nod positively, but Isa asks another woman the same question.
"Ah'm no gettin that much for Christmas this year," says the woman and Isa nods violently in agreement. 
"Oh, Ah'm the same. It's goat ridiculous. That was us last year, he was wantin wan a thae big computer things, it wis big, goes up and doon, so we halved for it. But it's a' the wee incidentals, aftershave n everythin'".
"Aye, Ah'm the same. Everythin's goat that expensive and wee'er."
Isa picks up a gift pack of aftershave. "Aye, yer right enough. We were up in Costco and see everythin, there's at least a pound or two oan it fae last year. An' everythin's downsized."
"Naw, they'll just have to make dae wi what they get."
Isa puts the gift pack back on the shelf. 

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Dookit


Donalds_Land


Before my time, but I think these two scenes are at the same place, Donald's Land at Three Ell Lane, or thereabouts, a hundred years apart. Nowadays known as sperr grun next to the big shed.Behind the billboards, stands a dookit, strengthened to epic proportions. A base of breezeblock gives top level security, with a reinforced door at the ground level. Upstairs is a small lookout window. And on the high balcony, the wee doos sit in the early afternoon sunshine and bill and coo in their palace of peace.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Pedalling

About ten past four, Parrot, with his wee chipped teeth, cycles by me on a "new-to-him" bike. He stands on the pedals in front of his big cousin who sits on the saddle and holds onto Parrot's t-shirt.
He circles round me.
"Another new bike, Parrot?" says I.
"Aye, m'uncle goat me it," says he.
"He did, he did," says the cousin, earnestly covering for him.
"M-hm," says I with a knowing look, "m-hm."
And Parrot lets out a big laugh and pushes down on the pedals and cycles off, faster and faster, into the sunset.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Pursuit

The summer wears on and wears out. Thought it had gone completely last week, but the temperature's kindly risen over the past couple of days and we feel glad of it. Still, there's a feeling of distrust in the evening air, a slight animosity, an underlying chill, as though all is not right with the world.
Me and the Govan Baby go out walking on our usual circuit. Up Shaw Street, onto Langlands Road, along the Golly, cross over and down Water Row to the river bank. As far as we can walk and back again, taking a turn around the Govan Old graveyard and out onto Govan Road again.
Just past the chapel, a young man steams towards us. He's walking very briskly, chest out and shoulders back, almost breaking into a run now and again. He's tall and twenty, black hair and handsome. As he gets close, I see his face is fearful, eyes wide open and his mouth is set in a firm frown. He casts a glance backwards and shoots on, crossing over the road.
Half a mo later, another figure follows in his footsteps. This time a man, tall and dark, approaching forty. He strides along with an air of threatening intent, but with the relaxation of one very confident in his own power.
I walk on a bit, and turn around to see if they are an incident about to happen.
And they are.
The young man enters a newsagents, which used to be an illustrious factor's office, or was it the bank? Anyway, now it sells crisps and cans and tonight it provides a temporary refuge for a hunted man.
Outside, the pursuer is trying to get into the shop, pushing against the glass door with all his might but the pursued is standing firmly against the door, holding back this boiling rage.
They look evenly matched, height, weight, build, but the man inside the shop has youth on his side and maybe the adrenalin that comes with fear.
Out on the street, the pursuer stands on the pavement and hurls curses and oaths at the lad, who has turned himself sideways and is wedged between a shelf and the door. He keeps his head down and turned away.
Now the kicking begins. The man on the street lifts his foot and bangs against the glass door, booting it again and again to no avail.
"Ah'm waitin',"  he roars and starts pacing like a caged lion.
Crowds gather at the corners to watch events unfold. I turn the Govan Baby's pram away from the violence.
As the light dims and a gentle breeze sweeps a chill around us, the young man sits still with his back against the door and the older man settles against the bonnet of a car.
Twenty minutes later, a police van rolls along the road and the pursuer, now about to be the pursued, stands up and walks smartly down the road and left down McKechnie Street.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Decals Deleted

What is that smell in the air? It's been an undernote all week long, gradually rising each day to prominence. Peggy's the one to identify it. It's fear she says. It's here at this time every year. The approach of a new school term.

Parrot and his wee brer are taking shelter in the close as I come down the stairs.
"What yous up to boys?"
He casts an upward glance at me and down again at a bike he's wheeled in.
"Ye goat any spanners, Ah'm just fixin ma bike," he says.
"Nope, and you need to do it outside," says I.
"It's rainin. We'll just be a wee minute."
"Aye," says the wee brer, looking at me pleadingly.
"It is not raining. Take the bike outside," I say and then, stopping to look at what they're doing, I accuse, "That's not your bike."
"Aye it is," he snaps back, "M' ma goat it fur's. You can ask 'er."
"It's far too big for you, and how comes yer taking the stickers off as well?" I say, watching his nail bitten fingers scraping and peeling off the decals and throwing them on the ground.
"Uch, Ah'm just fed up wi them. Had them too lang."
And they wheel the bike out into the cool wind and Parrot jumps up and cycles down the street, standing on the pedals cos the seat's too high, on his last day of freedom.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Irrigation Required

Days of golden sunshine beam upon Govan's dusty streets. Even the deep, red canyons of Luath Street and Taransay Street catch a gritty gleam and the heat of the day boils in the skies above and sinks slowly down to the cool, shadowy floor. 

"Eddie's Wee Plot & Garden" is a fine horticultural display, irrigated and tended with loving care. 
Down the street, one man pulls a hose through a ground floor window and shouts to an unseen person indoors, "Hook it up, hook it up. Turn i' oan noo. Turn it." There's a heap of broken glass on the road and he crunches through it in his flip-flops. 
A maiden breezes round the corner, broad and husky with a mop of frizzy curls and rude, red cheeks. She stretches out an arm of rolling flesh and cries to an upstairs open window, "Yous comin' tae Keiran's barbecue? Haw!"
A band of half a dozen 50 year olds dodge behind and in front of the billboards on Govan Road. They are dressed in summery attire; white baggy shorts below the knee, coloured net vest tops and trainers. Cool shades and chunky gold chains lend Miami gangster style to these old kids on the block as they throw back their heads and casually swig from their bottles. 

Friday, 12 July 2013

Costa Clyde on Fair Friday

 
Blazing sun or lashing rain seems to be the two weather options for Fair Friday and 2013 has favoured us with a continuing sunny spell.
Down on the Costa Clyde a pair of sun worshippers have spread their blanket overlooking the award winning Transport Museum, and cast aff their clathes with gay abandon.
"Słońce jest cudowne," she is saying, which translates as summat like "Ratsunspyoormajicbyraway".

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Happy Days Are Here Again!

"We're havin' a heatwaaaave, a tropical heatwaaave, the temp'rature's risin', it isn't surprisin', we're havin' a heatwave," so the backcourt chorus girls would sing at the start of another summer show.  A full season of sell-out performances would be on offer as long as the schools were off and the sun was shining.

It is roasting today and here we are, sitting in the sun and reminiscing over our days as stars of the backcourt stage. Curtains and sheets were hung over the clothesline and performers would queue up to sing their hearts out or shimmy and shake to an eager wee audience, who'd respond in turn with a rousing cheer or a hissing boo. 

Hollywood was always top of the bill, even from movies that had come out decades ago. Most shows started with "There's no business like showbusiness," with full cast of singers and dancers, Busby Berkeley style. Then on with soloists, duets, and ensembles, who'd practised long and hard together and sometimes fell out - even onstage. Up tempo was the order of the day and any long, slow ballads were met with jeers and yawns, as were poems.

By the late 60s/early 70s, Oliver! was a standard and produced enthusiastic renditions of "I'd Do Anything" and "Gotta Pick A Pocket or Two". These were fully choreographed with Cockney accents galore (which also came in handy for Mary Poppins numbers, such as "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious") and which couldn't have sounded any more phoney than Dick van Dyke's.

Tillie recalls extravagant costumes being fashioned from crepe paper for shows out the back in the 1940s. Tiller Girl style bows in the hair and on shoes, sashes around the waist and even capes. Bridal gowns of white satin and lace and bridesmaids dresses of every hue were luxurious additions to the wardrobe. Donations from aunties of stilleto heels and fancy jewellery showered us with showbiz glamour.

Songs from the movies were top of the bill, including "Happy Days Are Here Again!" and a few artistes specialised in scenes from Singing In the Rain and the songs of Al Jolson.  The Highland Fling also made an appearance, as did the Sword Dance, with a couple of walking sticks for the swords.

The shows were free, although there was sometimes an impresario who'd demand payment of the audience. They didn't last long as there was always another show starting up at the next close or so.
Adults sitting out in the sun would watch, help with the curtains, give a hand with the costume making, sometimes you'd get a mammy who'd join in for a wee minute with a dance or a song.

I've been looking out for open air concerts this heatwave, but haven't managed to see one yet. Come on, let's get the show on the road!

What memories from Govan backcourt shows of the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, now? Would love to hear - ladygovan@gmail.com

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Resounding Acclaim

A deep, noisy belch resonates in the toiletries aisle of our fave Govan X shopping centre cheap shop.
I can't help it, I look round with a start, to stare right at a wee wumman who is bending over to pick up a face cream.
 "Oh! Pardon me!" she exclaims, "That's that salad roll fae that new cafe ower the road."
Heh heh, she chuckles as she continues shopping, her wee man standing by her side, holding the basket with a look of long suffering.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

A Game Of Who's Who

Rainclouds finally pass over Govan after a long morning's downpour, leaving us with a still, grey ceiling overhead.
A police van is passing along Govan Road, then turns and doubles back on itself, then appears again and comes abruptly to a halt on the zig-zags of the pedestrian crossing from the shopping centre to The Squerr.
A man and woman are about to cross at the green man, but their way is blocked and the woman skips nimbly round the back of the van and over to stand with a crowd outside Greggs. The man is summoned to the front passenger window of the van, where a specky polis rolls down the window and calls into question the man's identity.
"You're Gary McL."
"Naw," he replies.
"Yes, you are," says the polis from his comfy seat, looking down on the man.
The man is slightly built and smartly dressed in casual clothes of blue jacket, jeans and nice trainers with a navy blue cap on his head.
Now begins a back and forward yes you are, no I'm no, with the man getting more and more irate as the altercation goes on. The police all the while remain inside the van, seemingly relaxed.
The man is asked for ID and he pulls a limp licence out of his pocket and unfolds it. Now the policewoman driver gets out of the van and walks round to the pavement where she instructs the man to remove his cap. The policeman gets slowly out of the passenger seat.
The accusation persists, "You're Gary McL." The man shakes his head and snarls angrily.
The police inspect the licence one after the other and return it to the man. Both return to the van and the man skips off across the road to Greggs where a low cheer goes up as the police van draws away.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The Day The Schools Break Up

Schools broke up at lunchtime today for the summer holidays.
I am driving towards Govan Cross, passing a row of cars parked outside the Govan Road Campus; the amalgamation of primary schools Cafflic and primary schools Prodisant.

Between two parked cars stands a young girl, tall and fair, with a hand raised, palm flat towards the chest of a boy, sevenish, who is set to race. He's wearing black; football top and shorts, black socks and black trainers. His hair is flaming red and his eyes are set on me as he crouches like a sprinter in the blocks. 
I am approaching at 30 mph. I slow down. I fix my eye on his. He's looking right back at me. I know what he's about to do.
It's the day the schools break up.
Out he shoots. The girl yells and grabs in vain. Emergency stop. The girl pulls him back and he struggles against her. I drive off and he shoots out again behind me and dodges traffic to reach the other side in safety. 
It seems to me that accidents always happen on the day the schools break up.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Midsummer Medication

Cloudy today, which means we may not get the full benefit of the year's longest day. Skies may be grey but the air is warm, and on the metal benches outside Farmfoods there's a full complement of Govanites celebrating the solstice, including labradoodles. 
Across the road, the new Cafe 13 is open for business and diners are seated at wooden tables on the pavement, watching the world - that's to say, cars on Govan Road - go by.

I cross over at the green man and find the way blocked by two guys in identical tracksuits and a straggly haired woman who is chastising them both. 
"Many's in a packet? Many? 'Mon, how many should there be?"
She's waving a small white cardboard box, the kind that holds pills from the chemist.
"There was twen'y-five," one man replies.
"An' noo there's only five?"
The other man protests, cursing loudly, "It wis him. Know whit he's like. Doons them in a wanner."
"Ssssee," she hisses under her breath, pushing them out her way and turning to fling the packet at them as she storms off.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Homework's Set Aside

One of the great things about Govan past, was that you could visit friends and family on foot. A brisk walk would take you to the streets and closes where your grannies, aunties, cousins, pals lived. You'd just drop in,  door on the latch, and they'd give you a warm welcome.
Now, we are sadly dispersed and have to jump a bus, drive a car or even hop on board a plane to see our kith and kin. Unless you're lucky enough to have rellies close by, as I do, just along Govan Road.
The welcome's just as warm today when I appear at the door. We're having a fine spell of weather just now, and it's too nice to sit indoors so we head off for an evening constitutional.

Down on the fancy riverside walkway, we meet a number of dogs out on relief walks between the news and the evening's soaps. Everyone says hello to each other down here; there's a holiday air about it, relaxed and good humoured. Just needs an ice cream van.
Lady smokers are crowded around the entrance of the newly refurbished Riverside Hall, out for a break from the bingo, to fill their lungs.
Our circuit takes us along Govan Road, up Summertown Road, along Vicarfield Street, down Southcroft Street, where we're stopped by two 10 year olds, out on bikes.
"Where you's been?" A. wants to know.
"Out a walk. Where's J.?" we ask.
"He's away in."
"When yous going in?"
"We've t'be in for hauf 9."
"Done yer homework?"
They both grin sheepishly and shake their heads.
"When you doin' it?"
"Ah jist dae mines in ma bed." says A.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Busy Bizzies

Ha ha! Best show of the night comes after the cavalcade has passed. As the young teens gather at the corners - same as every night, chatting and catching up, having a laugh - the polis decide to make themselves bizzies. The eye in the sky just about swivels itself right off the pole.