Thursday, 24 December 2015

Mum's Lum

Santa getting stuck up the lum? Nae chance! Welcome back to Blogger Dan who recalls how important it was to keep yer Govan lum clean, especially at this time of year.

I would have thought that everyone knows that a ‘lum’ is the name used in the west of Scotland, or perhaps all of Scotland, for a chimney. 
Not all that common nowadays, with architects not having to include a chimney in their drawing of modern centrally-heated houses. Back in the 1800s, chimneys and chimney-sweeps featured in many stories. There were songs written and myths made up about the people who swept the chimneys and the small boys who were apparently sent ‘down the lum’ to do the cleaning; also some people felt that it was a sign of good luck to be passed by on the street by the chimney-sweep going about his work. 

I can remember, about seventy years ago, as a wee boy in Govan it was not uncommon to spot the chimney-sweep going along the street; not many cars around at that time, and the sweep would have a handcart (same type as the rag-and-bone man or other small traders had). On the barrow there would be a few different sized circular, spiky brush-heads (probably about eighteen inches across) and some canes which could be pieced together to stick down the lum, a couple of circular tin balls, probably about eight or ten inches in diameter would be used to drop down the chimney. Also on the barrow would be some covers -- for all the world they looked like ‘hairy-blankets’, usually they were grey or black and were used to drape across the front of the fireplace, while the sweep was on the roof with his brush pushing the soot down the lum.

Govan did not boast many bungalows in the olde days -- in which, chimney-sweeping would be considered ‘a breeze’. Tenement living was a different kettle of fish, three or four-storey in height with tall chimney-pots and, I suppose, each with an individual chimney-space leading down to the fireplace (and when you think that, as well as a fireplace in the kitchen there was one in the living room and many bedrooms had a wee fireplace which, obviously also had to have a chimney taking the smoke therefrom) -- well, there must have been a virtual ‘warren’ of chimney-spaces wending their way skywards throughout all of the tenement building? 

So, I seem to remember on, probably the one and only occasion we had a chimney-sweep in our first-storey, two-room and kitchen house at 571 Govan Road, there was a ‘trial-run’ with someone on the roof pushing the soot ‘doon-the-lum’ and the boss-man sweep standing in front of the fire, holding the hairy blanket, waiting for the evidence that would show whether the correct lum was being poked-at? 
I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t have been the first time that absent householders would have come home to find that soot had been mistakenly shoved in on their fireplace. Right enough, I don’t think that there would have been much of a claim against the sweep had this happened -- I don’t remember seeing many (or any) carpeted homes in Govan, and there certainly was no white or cream carpet to worry about in those days. Lino was king and it was easy to sweep soot from linoleum. 

A friend of mine, Newton Mearns I’ll have you know, had their chimney swept last year and told me that the cost was £70.00 (digital-vacuuming?). I believe that the cost in my young days was around 3/6d to have the chimney swept -- this still proved too much to spend for most Govan families. So, getting hold of the poker you'd set alight and stick a load of crumpled-up newspapers as far as you could up the chimney. This would set fire to the soot and this was the ingenious way of stopping that smoke from coming back down the lum into the living-room. 
This was a dangerous thing to do and it was against the law.
From the street, it was easy to tell when the lum went on fire; a huge column of smoke adorned with sparkling particles of red soot was, of course a ‘dead give-away’ -- but not so easy to prove that it wasn’t an accident. I don’t ever remember hearing of anyone being convicted of the offence. 
The children loved it and when the Fire Brigade appeared on the scene it added to the excitement of the great event. 
My Father was a bit of ‘a scaredy’ -- not so my ‘wee Mammy’ -- thus, ‘Mum’s Lum’.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Good People All, This Christmastide

Standard scene at this time of year, children dressed in Santa hats and tinsel, singing lustily to accompanying keyboard plonking out of a portable boombox.
But, hark! What is this sound?
Little carollers sing in the corner of the Govan Cross shopping centre on this wild December day. An intense but eager music teacher wields the baton.
No wearisome "Little Donkey" or the bouncy jingle of the "Calypso Carol" here. Instead, we're treated to the heavenly strains of "The Sussex Carol" resounding through the mall. The concert proceeds, all very Nine Lessons, Carols from King's style, Adam Lay Ybounden and all that.
The shoppers stop, transfixed at the sound and the sight of children concentrating on their visionary musical director.
An African boy soprano sings a solo verse and as his notes soar up to the unvaulted ceiling, the lady at the Sky stall turns to me and shakes her head in wondering awe.
"That wis amazin'" she says at the end and I nod in full festive agreement.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Festive Fireworks

Four o'clock, and I am cycling along the waterfront of the Riverside scheme when I reach a barricade at the Water Row. Workmen in high viz jaikets are standing around so I call to ask what's going on. What's next here, I'm thinking.
"How can I not get through?" I say and one or two shout back, "It's the fireworks. It's cordoned off for the fireworks the night."

In the midst of a long spell of wild windy weather and driving rain, we are blessed today with a fine day, dry and calm. Whar's the chances? But, thanks, we'll take it and enjoy the lighting up of the Govan Christmas lights.
The Govan Baby and his wee sister are excited as we race towards the river to watch the festive celebrations. A Christmas market has been erected for one day only and the Govan High Pipeband are thrilling the crowds.
Suddenly, the first whoosh and bang of what is a splendid array of dynamic dynamite explodes in the night sky. Whoa . . the Govan Baby doesn't love fireworks, says he, holding his ears and burying his face in his mumma's jacket. Wee sis in the pram isn't so keen either. We decide to beat a retreat and reach the Christmas tree in time to see the coloured globes illuminate for the season. 

Nat fae Howat Street shows up and once everyone gets a hurl in his rickshaw, we are firmly back in the Christmas spirit.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Fireworks And A Golden Fry

Doors, hastily flung up as night falls, are the first sighting of a bonfire this Guy Fawkes. The pyramid is hollow and actually doesn't get lit until late, late on, and then only by a coupla rogues. 
Seems like everyone and his granny is away to state sponsored events these days. No, actually, that's not quite true as there are plenty of fireworks zooming and swooshing across Govan's skies, Deep booms echo round the sperr grun, and the squeal of rockets ricochets off the sandstone walls. It all adds to the feeling of being stranded in a wartime landscape. 
Pity the bonfires are lacking. And it's not for lack of space.
A dry night, though very cold; heat from a bonfire would be welcome. Sparklers give off a quick hot light, and fizzle out.
Heading back to Govan Road, we come across a welcome sight. A blazing fire behind the Bells with a couple of mad attendants.
Fireworks now spent, it's time to heat up with a bag of chips from Perella's at Linthouse.
A reliable source claims they fry in a lard extracted from a herd of pedigree cattle from old Italia and specially imported to give Perella chips a flavour to die for. Yeah, I'll buy that. Something's making them delicious.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Hallowe'en Roundup

Brechin's is certainly a place to get into Hallowe'en spirits, and judging by the ghastly grins at the upstairs windows, some folks are well on the way
At first glance, the Wee Scone Shop, inside Govan Cross's shopping centre, seems to be full of spine chilling Hallowe'en fare. But, look closer . . .the window display may have spooky cardboard decoration, but the actual cakes are just, well, run of the mill cakes. Hmm.
Best decorated cakes and of course, best tasting, are to be found at Watson's Bakery, Shaw Street. Thanks again. Award Winners for Hallowe'en 2015.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Elder Park Crying Match

It's a fine morning for a stroll around the Elderpark pond. Once inside the gates, the toddler breaks free and is off, running to who knows where. His big sister chases him along the tarmac paths, branching off through the grassy parks. I follow along with his wee sister, cosy in her pram.

Plenty of people are out taking the chill Autumn air and enjoying the hazy sunshine. Two footballers are having a kickabout. An Asian couple, in national dress, walk leisurely below the trees. A runner, a cyclist, a guy that looks like he's slept in clothes, or maybe been up all night.
Before long, the toddler and sister veer off the path for a kick at the crisp, fallen leaves. A dug tries to join them which sets the toddler off into shrieks of terror.
I pick him up to rescue him and that sends him into even louder screams. Doesn't want up, doesn't want down. "You push the pram," I instruct big sister who's just turned 5. She makes a good go of it while I wrestle the writhing, screaming tiny tot. A bearded gent walks briskly past, and says with a wry smile, "Living up to his reputation," referring to the tossing bright red curly locks. 
I manage to struggle to the swings and next moment, he forces his way out of my arms and runs madly to the chute.
I take over pram duties and sink down onto a bench with another ma and granny. Phew.

Friday, 25 September 2015

The Sludge Fleet

Any sight of a vessel on the river generates a bit of excitement. It's such a quiet waterway now. "There's a wee boat," I cry, holding up my phone to snap a picture. 
"Catchagrip," ma da says scornfully, "A picture of the tolley boat?"

Monday, 31 August 2015

Waverley Farewell

Ya beauty! Just caught you as you sneak off down the Clyde to continue your summer season in southern climes. We'll see you again when you return to your berth in October for the winter hibernation.
Farewell Waverley!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Watson's Fruit Pie

As we approach the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, I'm filled with quiet excitement to see - for the first time in forever - apple pies in Watsons.  
The plump appley filling in the unique pie case is just like your mince pie - but not the Christmas mince pie - rather the pastry case of a Scotch mince pie.  
Cool and crisp, soft and sinking, slathered in sticky syrup. The surprise of this sweet filling in a savoury style case is a rare delight.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Bridging North And South

City Deal announces the creation of a new bridge between Govan and Partick at Water Row, says Glasgow City Council.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The Ideal Salon

Another signwriting post. Beautiful signage for a Shaw Street salon which is now, unfortunately, closed. Wonder when it dates to? Anyone any ideas?

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

All Black

We are all roasted. Sweltering, sweating, everyone stripped down to the bare essentials. Well, kind of. What I mean is, everybody's in shorts and simmits, belly tops and right off the shooder numbers.
The clammy heat of Govan Cross is the same whether you're inside or outside the shops.
I queue up with the rest at the Farmfoods checkout with our boxes of ice lollies. 3 White's Lemonades for a pound.
"Oh, help, help, ma purse," the older lady in front of me whispers in quiet agitation. She has her messages on the belt and starts to lift the bread, box of Tetley, the links and the frozen square slice back off and into her basket. "Ah cannae find ma purse," she says as she rakes through her handbag. "It's a' black. That's the problem. Ah cannae see it," and her silent panic and fingers swollen with arthritis make it difficult for her to find what is in her bags.
"Take your time," says I, as I balance her basket and she suddenly comes across it and breathes a heavy sigh of relief in the oppressive, evil heat of the day.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Financial Transactions

My mum taught me the ways of banking, deposits and pay-ins, records and receipts, cheques and cash. We would enter the vast banking hall in St. Vincent Street, imposing and intimidating in its polished splendour of marble and wood, to carry out our transactions in a quiet and reverent manner. Such temples of finance cannot be compared to today's Govan branches of Scotland's banks.
Lino floors and walls in need of a lick of paint are not so daunting, but strangely, there still hangs in the air, a sense of nervous foreboding.

A mother and daughter stand in the queue beside me whispering about how much money to take out. "What do ye need?" asks the mum just as the daughter asks, "What'll I need?"
We shuffle forward in the line. They are dressed similarly in joggy bottoms, sandshoes and longish, light jackets. Their hair is in matching ponytails of light brown, though mother's has a few streaks of grey. Daughter, a little taller, looks down at her mum and says firmly, "Ah'm not askin for it."
And mother purses her lips and frowns.

An elderly man takes his turn with the teller. "Ah'm needin to take money oot to get ma new glesses," and as he does so, he taps his specs very lightly, and the leg detaches from the frame and the glasses fall off his nose. "Oh!" he exclaims, "See that!"
The teller smiles and waits for further instruction.
"Ah've got it written on a bit of paper how much Ah need," he says, pushing a scrap through the glass screen.

Mother and daughter have fallen into whispers now as they discuss their private financial business till their turn comes up. We are both called forward at the same time and the girl must have found her courage as I hear her enquire timidly, "Em, could I take four pounds out."

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Redeemed And Renewed

Govan New is undergoing a bit of a facelift. Good to know some of our HS family membership money's drifting back to Govan. Will def renew again this year.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Out With The Weedkiller

The bonny banks of the River Clyde at Govan. Old paintings show a pleasant, pastoral scene; salmon fishing, wee boats sailing, swimming in the summer. In more recent years, it's been a site of industry, the building and maintenance of mighty ships, employment for men of skill and vision. Docks and quays were dug out and developed bur in time, these fell into disuse and sad neglect. Nature reclaimed the banks and a wilderness pushed up through the cobbles and coping stones.
Today, land clearance is maintained by weed killers in white protective suits, spraying chemicals onto the land and into the air.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Soapy Suds, Semmits & Drawers


A bit of a step down from the steamie of yesteryear, but a welcome sight in Shaw Street. A nice wee Laundromat so's Govanites can keep clean and fresh at decent prices.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

M'Uncles' Map

Thanks to m'uncle Ronnie for his fine map drawing skills and great memory. He's not a proud man and says if you want to correct anything, you should post in the comments with your credentials and whereabouts. Just watch yersel'.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Shaw Street & So Forth

A favourite street in Govan, Shaw Street, cos if you walk down it - ignore the naff new flats half way down on one side - you are still in old Govan, 20th century style, 19th century even. It's a dream street with a healthy mix of residential homes, business and retail, tenements and high backs. It's been lucky in Govan and Govan's lucky still to have it as for the most part, it's escaped the planners' wrecking ball.
A polis told me that it's one of the baddest streets in all of Glasgow, Scotland even. That's why it's got the cctv swivelling up and down it, keeping watch on the baddies who've lived up its closes for generations. And that's why you'll see the polis making forays into Shaw Street, usually from the Govan Road end, as was the case yesterday when a disturbance awakened residents from their early morning slumber and prevented folks getting into Watsons for rolls for breakfast.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Silly String Daft

We've went silly string daft this year. Even the polis got into it.



Huge props to all those gallus enough to stand on the platform of the bus as it sped along. Those who'd casually hold onto the metal poles, facing direction of travel and as the bus slowed, would simply drop off the back.  Also, to all who'd run for the bus as it pulled away and make heroic leaps onto the platform, often aided by fellow passengers already standing on the platform.
You'd do anything not to have to wait for the next bus, eh?

Procession 2015

Few snaps as the procession strolls by . . .

At The Sounding Of The Trumpet

Stalwart band of the Salvation Army. serving Govan for generations.
Hope their fine building in Golspie Street stays safe forever more.

We Are Not Removing, By Jove

"We. Are. Not. Removing!"
The cut glass tones of the Mary Barbour Society ladies sound more akin to Guildford than Govan. 
"No, indeed, my good man! We are certainly not removing!" soars above the crowd in defiant RP.
Three dusky maidens slink by, "Right on, sista," says one, nodding her tousled curls. "We're with ya."
Govan Housing must be birling in their office.
Hahaha - we laugh later as we fondly recall a story from the days when folk used to pay visits to their friends and relatives of a Saturday evening.
A posh aunty, who always wore a fox fur stole and talked wi a mooth full o' bools, was sitting by the window in the front room of 571 with the family. Over the road is The Three Ells, downstairs is The Bells.
"What's the time?" someone enquires.
Aunty cranes her neck round and looks down on the Govan Road. "It must be efter helf pest nine," says she, "for the pubs are all shyite."


Heralding The Fair 2015

The Islay bird, aged 4, has a meltdown when I say no to a clear rattle filled with water and glitter. "You've already got those amazing bubbles from Harry! Look! Look!" I call as I wave the wand frantically outside Brechin's. It's no good, she's just not going to stop till she has the glitter bomb in her possession. "That's it. We're goin to have to go home," I say desperately, looking round for her mother, whilst thrusting a two pound coin in return for some Hong Kong plastic.
It's put to good use as she dances around, waving it aloft as the dignitaries pass, the Sheep's Heid, and the Pipe Band from up river.