This is my first post and I'm looking for help.
Most of the people I know are either really smart or really talented and this annoys the life out of me. At nights out after a few drinks they start talking about screenplays they are working on or websites they are in the process of developing where as I would mention that my work colleague and I had been inflating rubber gloves we had forced over our heads using only our noses.
Any way i'll get to the point, I thought that I could write a book, story, something just to show them that I could. Then I realised I dont really know enough about anything to write about it convincingly so I wrote about me...............if its okay i have posted some of whats been written so far and would you guys could tell me what you think? I am upto the point where I go to High School but nothing happened should i make stuff up? Really want to impress my friends and my wife and son oh and get published and earn squillions!!
So I was brought up in Penilee, which is on the south side of Glasgow sandwiched between Cardonald and Paisley. It was a typical council housing scheme. It was built in the late thirties, the Second World War was in full swing and most city councils stopped building houses but an exception was made in the case of Penilee as housing was needed for the workers at the numerous armament factories in the nearby Hillington Industrial Estate. There was a mixture of tenements, terraced houses and four in a block houses. There was a row of shops, a community centre, bowling club and a park.
We lived in “The Square.” My house was no. 4 Rylees Place. It was a three bedroom, four in a block. We were on the ground floor, above us were the McPhees, through the wall were the Gracies and above them were the Jordans. It seemed to me that my family and the Gracies were the toffs in this block of four. Don’t get me wrong we were not rich by any stretch of the imagination. When I say toffs I mean we seemed to be cleaner, kept our garden nice. The house was spotless thanks mainly to my Gran. She tidied, hoovered and polished the house every day. She would wash and iron all our clothes every day. It seemed like she did everything and because of her we had nice clothes, a nice house and these small things made me feel that we were just that wee bit better than some of our neighbours.
Mr and Mrs Gracie were both working and had a corgi dog like the Queen’s and they were nice quiet living folk. The Jordans were a bit more, how would you say it, well scruffy. Mr Jordan looked a wee bit like Buddy Holly only older with a weather beaten face and an air of stale beer and ashtrays about him. Don’t remember anything else about that family.
The McPhees who lived above us were a bit more up market than the Jordans but even they could have done with a good wash. They reminded me of gypsies. I could imagine them trying to sell pegs and living out of a beaten up caravan that had travelled round the world and back. Mr McPhee a wee short fat fellow with greasy black hair, always looked like he had slept in the clothes he was wearing. It would have taken more than a soapy wet flannel to get the dirt off his face. He liked a drink and was often to be seen outside on the pavement arguing with Mrs McPhee who also liked a drink. They had two daughters Sharon and Pauline. Sharon was too old for me to be interested in but Pauline was the source of my prepubescent sexual fantasies. Well, not Pauline exactly because she was facially challenged. It was her underwear. It used to hang on the washing line and wave to me, teasing me with its flimsy materials and promises of unknown pleasures.
Growing up in Penilee was great, I had loads of friends and a few enemies but generally my days were filled with football, sojies (soldiers), kick the can (a variation of hide and seek), 7 and by (football) and heedie 2 touch (football again). Rylees Place had a huge grassed area about the size of a football pitch which was bordered on three sides by houses and it was the social centre point for all the kids that lived there. We played football there, bonfires were built there, when the council cut the grass we had grass fights, great fun but trying to get the green stains out of your hands was a pain in the arse. We would do the "grand national" which consisted of running through everyone’s front garden jumping over their fences and hedges. My backside still bears the scars of landing in rose bushes. OUCH! There was always something to do or somewhere to go. We had busy periods throughout the year. In the summer when Wimbledon was on the go tennis was the sport of the day. We would also go at least once a week with ten pence to the Sweetie Factory in the industrial estate. Ten pence was all you needed to buy a bag of misshaped boilings. A paper bag full of teeth rotting, sugar induced coma causing sweets. Magic.
Autumn meant apples, pears, plums and any other fruit that would be ripe for stealing from the gardens of Ralston. Ralston is the first area of houses you see as you enter Paisley which borders Penilee. A short ten minute walk and we had our very own orchard. Many an apple pie was made by my grandmother from the spoils of our Indian raiding forays into Ralston. Many a sore stomach and diarreah filled pants were had as a result of eating crab apples.
In the winter from about mid-October onwards we had to collect "bonnie-wid". The coming of the 5th November or Guy Fawkes Night meant collecting bonfire wood. There was real competition between the kids of Penilee. "The Square" always had the best bonfire on "Bonnie-Night". We get wood from everywhere, the nearby industrial was a great source of pallets, and we would chap on doors asking if they had "any wid fur the bonnie." We were not adverse to stealing fences from front gardens, planks from scaffolding. One year we even managed to get some railway sleepers and a telegraph pole. Everybody knew everybody and when it came to Halloween our plastic bags would be bulging with fruit and sweeties. If it snowed every kid in the square would be allowed out late and the worlds biggest snowball fight would ensue. I loved it and miss the care free happy days. It was safe. Our parents all knew each other. We did not have to worry about cars, perverts or any of the dangers in today’s society. I did not know it at the time but we were lucky.
But there was one source of darkness.....Mr and Mrs Blair. They weren’t married, they were mother and son. He was in his late thirties but looked older. She just looked really old. But they were both sour faced auld bastards. No matter what we did they would phone the authorities. We played football on the grass (using the "No Ball Games" sing as a goal post) they phoned the Police. We did the Grand National they phoned the Police. We built our bonfire they phoned the fire brigade even though half the adults in the square were out enjoying the fire. This one day Mr Blair phoned the Police about us playing football. So the local bobby arrives in his Ford Escort. This cop was about six foot five tall, baldy, had a beard and was a right hard looking bastard. Everybody was scared of him.
"Move!" he says, so we move over to the Gillespies’ front porch and waited about five minutes for him to go away and then we were straight back into the match. After about half an hour or so he returns. Gets out of his car and marches over to us with a face that would sour milk. We all froze, shitting ourselves.
"Right, Baw noo!" so I had to give him our ball. We were gutted that he was confiscating our ball but he tucked the ball under his arm and removed a penknife from his pocket, stabbed the ball and gave me it back. I looked at him, then the ball and back to him, he smiled and said "Don't take the piss, Nae Fitba, Right" and then he left. Bastard!!
War was declared. The Blairs had gone too far with their petty, fun spoiling, crabbit auld git ways. We did every trick we could to them. We put dog shit on their door step; we had Indian and Chinese meals delivered at all hours of the day. We threw eggs at their windows, we had the police and the fire service at their door because of hoax calls (not proud of that one besides it wasn’t me….honest.) Hilly a.k.a. Robert Hillhouse one of the older boys in the square had two big brothers that liked adult art magazines. So of course we posted pictures of naked women being shagged by men with huge willies through their letter box. We stole their milk from the door step. We even used the empty milk bottle to play a particularly nasty trick on them. For this trick all you need is a milk bottle and the ability to run very fast. We filled the milk bottle with piss leaned it against their door so that when it the door was opened the contents of the bottle would spill onto the floor in their house. So with the bottle poised, their front door was chapped and the trap was set. We hid out of sight behind a hedge; we heard the creak of the door open followed by the curses of Mr Blair as the urine of five evil children drenched his hall carpet. At the time these pranks were hilarious but it could be that we contributed to Mr Blair’s death as he had a heart attack just after I started secondary school, I even went to his funeral, what a hypocrite!
I attended Our Lady and St Georges Primary School and while there I got into my fair share of bother. My earliest memory of school was being taken there by my Granda. I remember holding his hand. He was a thin man, quite tall and his hair was just turning grey. He wore glasses and had false teeth but he was a strong man and he worked tirelessly to provide for his family. He was a steel erector and he told me that he built Hunterston Power Station mostly by himself. He worked all over and every week he would send home money for Bridie (my Gran). He had the hands of a man who was not scared of hard work. I remember him holding my wee hand in his and I knew that I was safe. But this day when we got to the school gate, he stopped and looked at me to make sure I was presentable. He frowned at my hair. To make you understand I had not only one but two “coos licks” that made the hair at the front stick up. My Granda not wanting me to go into school with messy hair licked his hand and used it to fix the unruly hairs. No need for gel or hairspray when you have your Granda’s spit!
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