Wednesday, 31 December 2014

One Hundred Years Of Gratitude - Happy New Year

As we commemorate the centenary of the start of WWI, here is the Christmas card, sent 100 years ago from my Gt. Grandfather John to his daughter, my Granny, Mary.
He wrote:
"Dear Tissie, Just a line from Dad. I hope you are well. A merry Christmas to you. Give my love to all. Goodnight, hoping you will enjoy yourself tomorrow. Hoping to see you soon. xxxxx J.F."
John was killed at Ypres in April 1915.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Tillie Tells A Tale: When Christmas Day Fell On A Thursday

Merry Christmas Tillie and thanks for this fine tale of a Christmas miracle.

When The Steam Wash House opened, my mother stopped using the wash house round the back and started doing the family's washing there instead.
The Steamie became popular very quickly with its double sinks with wringers between and electric boilers where you'd boil your whites in soapy suds, and you didn't have to keep the fire going under it. You had to book your place and my mummy had a standing appointment on a Thursday morning. On that day, every week, she would arise early and bump the old pram downstairs full of the bundle of dirty washing from our house in Broomloan Road to my granny's, three up in Neptune Street, where she'd collect her load of washing and set off to the steamie in Clynder Street.

Christmas Day 1947 fell on a Thursday. I had to stay home to watch my wee sister while my mummy went to wash the clothes. No holiday at Christmas in those days, so my daddy was at work as usual.
I spent the morning sitting astride my first two wheeler and thoroughly neglecting my younger sister who I'd left in the kitchen playing by the range.
In my bedroom, I was energetically pulling my bike backwards and forwards in the narrow space between the wall and the bed, gripping the handlebar with one hand and steadying myself against the wall with the other. Every now and again, I'd dive into the kitchen to make sure my sister hadn't touched anything hot.

Time passed quickly and soon my mother was coming through the door with both lots of washing. As was her custom, she began to shake and fold my granny's wet washing, as there was not time to do this at the Steamie.
A few minutes later, we heard the front door open and I was almost knocked down as my Granny rushed past me, slamming the door behind her. Dropping to her knees beside the bundles of washing she quickly began to search through her own basket.
My mummy, astonished at her mother's strange behaviour, called out “What are you looking for Mother?”
Granny answered “If I find it, I'll tell ye. If I don't, no one will ever know," and just at that, she pounced on a pillowcase embroidered with flowers. 
She thrust her nimble fingers inside, pulled out a small white linen bag and carefully carried it to the table, where she extracted a sodden pile of pound notes; a full £100.
As we peered over her shoulder, she clutched her hand to her heart and whispered “The finding of this bundle is an answer to my prayers, I hope all's not lost.”

As with many people in those days, my granny didn't trust the banks and kept her savings in her bedding. I'm sure many today would agree with her thinking, but in this instance, my mother urged her not to touch it but ushered her out of the door and down to the potted heid bank on Govan Road.

Nervously, they approached a teller and asked to see the Manager. A few moments later, a door opened and they were invited to enter the office. He greeted them with a smile, perhaps thinking that they wanted to open an account, but was shown instead the small parcel containing the one hundred pound fortune which had been through boiler and wringer at the Steamie.
The Manager remained calm. He advised that no one should touch the bundle, but that they should take it home, turn the oven to the lowest setting and place the money on the shelf on a metal tray. The bank notes would gradually open out as they slowly dried, he explained, and he warned them not to touch them. Only when they were certain that they were thoroughly dry, should the notes be placed in a new wrapping of brown paper and returned to the bank.
He assured them with confidence, that it didn't matter the condition of the notes, for as long as the numbers were intact and legible they would get a full reimbursement for the cash.
Thankfully, out of the pile, only the outer pound note was lost and the story is remembered fondly as a Christmas miracle. 

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Hundred Pound Winner

 Wullie welcomes me into his splendid workshop, "Awrite missus, zat you in before yer hunner pound fine again?" he says with his customary good humour.

Thanks, dear Diary. If I hadn't written about my lack of MOT last Christmas Eve, I'd probably not have remembered about getting a new one this year.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Transcendent Peace

A chill, damp afternoon at Govan Cross, just three days before Christmas day.
A mum plays football with her boy against the walls of St. Mary's and a flock of white birds flies high into the grey sky. Over the river sails a flock of white swans.
Peace in Govan, but on our return to home, we learn of mayhem and tragedy upstream in George Square.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

And Forward, Though I Cannot See, I Guess And Fear

There's been loads of theories on what was going to happen to the graving docks ever since the Coachhouse Trust moved in before the Commonwealth Games and started clearing the undergrowth round the two big dry docks nearest Govan Road.
I thought most credible - though not from the most credible source -  was Mr B. who stated, authoritatively, that Glasgow City Council was clearing it for the visitors to the Games. Then when the multi millionaires and them that's got a wallet that would choke a donkey sees it, they'll not be able to resist buying up vast areas of Govan's heritage and building big skyscrapers all over it.

After the games, the land flourished with wild fruits and foliage until this week when the Trust rolled back through the gates and went into de-forestation mode with a vengeance.
I have never seen - and I mean never - seen weeding done on such a vast scale in so quick a time.
Yes, you can see the river better and that's quite nice. But, what . . . and I think I have said this before . . . next?

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Christmas Kick-Off

A cold, clear night sets over Govan and the hi-jinks of the "Govan Loves Christmas" team. This year's merriment has expanded ten-fold to include a wintry fair on the site of the doomster carpark with plenty of ideas for that special Christmas gift. Cut price Airbus anyone?
There's a stage featuring primary school carollers, the rat queen from the Govan Cat show, back by popular demand at the church hall this panto season and a compere who works up the crowd in readiness for good ol' Santa Claus and the lighting of the tree.
Nat fae Howat Street's turnt a hippy and is snapped on a tricycle built for a few.
The pic's not great, but wish you could see the intense excitement on the faces of the wee boys on the rickshaw. True Christmas wonderment.
Two warriors show no fear in the sight of the polis as they take one another on with light sabres. But it's a different story when one gets hurt and their maw descends on them with a wallop.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Breathe In Govan

Me and the Islay Bird step over the door and into a dank, misty evening. She grips my hand and chatters constantly as we walk briskly to Govan Cross.
"I'm scared," says she. "Don't be," says I with a giggle, "nothing to be scared of in Govan."
"It's dark," she says, "What's that in there?" and we look through the open door of a workshop in the big shed. "It's where they make nice tables and chairs and cabinets and stuff like that," I reply, "See the men working."
We move on and pass the lights of the Riverside Club where mums, dads and children are making their way to the door.
Down through the Riverside scheme and along the riverbank we go.
"Look Islay Bird," I say, "somebody's got their Christmas lights up and we've just had St. Andrew's Night."
She is more forgiving than me and whoops at the twinkling colours and the tree.
"Are there spooky things down here?" she says, gripping my hand tightly and peeping behind her.
"Not at all!" I say with bravado, whilst casting a quick glance around. "C'mon we'll sing a song," and at that she launches into a Hallowe'en ditty.
I look down at this lightly skipping, dancing child and a memory glimmers of my own walks along Govan streets, hand in hand with an elder. Nice how the years roll round.
"Take a deep breath, Bird, and breathe in Govan," and we both sook the air deep into our lungs.
We turn up Water Row and make for the lights.
Govan's Christmas tree has been erected and awaits the grand switch-on. Camouflaged in the mirk, I have to point it out to the Bird. "Santa's fairies are coming to light it up soon. We'll come and see it."