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peter.howden Posted 24th Sep 2020, 06:34am
  Hector and Mr Swan...Market gardener Extraordinary(final episode)

As a young boy of nine year’s old... of course, every action, and surroundings, was larger than life, the little he knew of it, but being in Mr Swan’s home was way beyond something else. To Hector, Mr Swan’s abode, was a massive mansion with castle like features. Scottish gargoyles outside and overshadowing large mason stone walls best suited for medieval built strong holds. The front door was solid wood, so much so, Hector could not close it by himself...and the deep-rooted locks, he thought were gold but turned out to be well polished brass.

Within this two story wonderland were some odd rooms, plus a refrigerator bigger than his sister’s living room, and her kitchen combined. Hector was allowed to have the run of the place, even to watch this specially adapted small screen of the times television. The picture received was expanded by an even larger magnified glass, situated precisely 2foot 3 inches away from the screen. Sitting at the other end of the spacious room, it was like being in the cinema. Pure schoolboy heaven when the “Lone Ranger” came galloping on.

The actual manor was owned by Glasgow District council, whose representatives insisted Mr and Mrs Swan stayed there a few nights a week, yet they preferred the small quarters at the stables across the way...and at the time Hector could not understand the logic....but now he does!. They would play bowls on one of the open lawn’s, along with a local scrap merchant who lived nearby, providing homemade lemonade for Hector, and slight refreshment for the gentlemen. A tad more was for the winner. The call of a wood pigeon today will take him back to those light floating times.

In private moments, Mr Swan taught him how to look at nature, to wonder in its complicated simplicity. Hector’s life, if not moulded, was guided in the way to take stock, and understand the sharp reality where we are in the spectrum of things. Strangely.... only now looking back, he realizes , Mr Swan gave him a goal, a blueprint, a code, always to be curious, and not afraid in not knowing, to attempt to follow sub-consciously... though Hector often fails due to his own making. Now hector appreciates he has had, and needed mentors throughout life

His magical mystery tours with Mr & Mrs Swan lasted for two superb summers, before his sister Sheila, moved on from Priory Drive, to Whifflet, and Hector’s life began to grow up, or so he believed at the time. On revisiting the place, you can’t see the mansion, or the gardens for that matter, so memory lane is his only transport. Adult influence, individual mentor and a society who saw no harm in a young boy listening to a elderly gentleman spreading his knowledge , gave Hector so much fascination at a time in his life…when it was most needed.

Disappointingly he has now no information what happened to the Swans, though it is certain they are no longer alive, as Mr Swan must have been sixty-nine... if not a day... while the baker supreme ,Mrs Swan, will always be young.

Hector’s wish is, they both are resting in eternal peace.
peter.howden Posted 22nd Sep 2020, 07:20am
  My Chronicles 21/09/2020

Aunt Becky is fine at the moment, but very frail, as the staff take extra care checking regularly of her comfort. Paying money into her personal account, became a problem even though the home and I are with the same bank. Once again Fergus,(Toni’s main man) came to the rescue by using his internet knowledge to solve the problem. I always feel like a wee schoolboy, when he is expertly trying to explain my mistakes.

Although acting to the essential rules of lockdown, Due to sunny weather for a couple of days, Rebecca had many a visitor, flowers and loads presents delivered on the day, and the day before the milestone birthday. Nikki and Emma came to the garden on the 17th, as a chance for us to say goodbye to Emma, before they travelled up to Aberdeen University, for Emma to settle into her rooms. Also, they cunningly left the mutt, at our home for a 36-hour stretch.

Eva(the canine)had never been outside the comfort of her own home in the five years with Nikki, so the pooch was bamboozled and fretting for most of the day and night. In the evening, trying to catch it once it saw me lifting up its lead, was akin to a Charlie Chaplin movie. Once out and some 100 odd metres…it stopped dead, refusing to move. The mutt is strongly built, but having been a rescued dog, previous dreadful issues…most probable gravely treated, she is very panicky. Back home, we attempted to leave the hound in the kitchen, however she made sure we knew she was not happy. Taking the easy way out, transported her bedding into our bedroom… the cur fell asleep quite quickly. When Nikki and Simon returned next evening, Eva was pure delighted, wagging her tail and jumping with sheer delight.

“All we seem to do?”, ‘She who must be obeyed’, said rather downheartedly, “is reminisce into the past!”. As we talked of the confinement, and necessary restriction, it became obvious, having each other, we are more fortunate than a hell of a lot of people, because we have family and close friends, who keep in touch as best, they can

Perhaps I’m scatter-brained, but… Each time I recall by look back, I cannot help but smile, for to win or lose, to have a dream of any sort, believing and nourishing it, walking the walk, talking the talk, allowing it to flourish in daylight …even when peoples think… and tell me, my heed is full of Jorries and wee motors, is worth every breath…every single moment…of my existence
peter.howden Posted 20th Sep 2020, 07:38pm
  Hector and Mr Swan...Market gardener Extraordinary(2/3)

Mr Swan, engaged as a market gardener, groundkeeper, all round worker come anything, for the old Glasgow Council, who owned ‘Clydenuek House’... and fields between the ‘Clyde, Blantyre farm Rd, leading up to the old bridge over the river. Hector, under his wing, was so lucky spending hours, almost every day around the big hoose, and the stables in Kylepark drive, with enormous glass hot-houses, filled with amazing sublime moments, during the two long summer months

Just before Hector’s first visit, Mr Swan had been instructed to employ an architect, along with an overpass building firm, to erect a bridge over a fast flowing stream running into the river Clyde. The estimates proved to be one hell of expensive exercise, under their estimate . Mr Swan dismissed their services, then with draughtman basics, finished all the drawings and models himself. Contacted a couple of friends high up in Ravenscraig works to construct in sections, while he began to lay foundations himself. After locking ,fusing and welding each section in place, completed the steel bridge. The whole episode took seven weeks, at a fraction of the amount first recommended .
The house faced the river and at sunset, was just pure magic, highlighting the driveways pebble mixture of golden brown, and pearl of white. The garden consisted of flowers he could not pronounce, or remember, loads of blackberries, gooseberries and three large greens, so soft to walk on. A small wood between the house and the main road heading for the Haughhead Bridge, held bluebell displays in the spring. The bonny river was a cool sight anytime, however, on a summer night it shone its own element of wonder.

He taught Hector how to play open bowls, watch and appreciate his surroundings and animal habitats, no matter where he may be. Mr Swan demonstrated how to shoot a gun in safety, even let Hector hold his shot gun when it was unloaded. His philosophy on shooting was, “you don’t have to be John Wayne, just point it at what you want to hit, then pull the ‘trigger’, but never ever kill, just for the hell of it. If you can convince yourself there is an alternative way, then don’t do it.

Mr Swan cultivated Hector to always set his own challenges ...not your neighbours, or societies or the world... Don’t let anyone use you… stand straight, then dance to you own tune. Mr Swan final quote... if you can get through life without deliberately hurting someone else, then you’ll do all right…but, you have your work cut out complying.

It took Hector a while, to figure out what the astonishing red bearded man meant…but Hector got there…or so he believes.

peter.howden Posted 19th Sep 2020, 01:36pm
  Hector and Mr Swan...Market gardener Extraordinary (1/3)

During the summer admiring Beth from afar, Hector reflected on a few several holidays previous, while staying in his sister’s home, quite close to the River Clyde in Uddingston. Hector was sent for fresh vegetables, to a Mr Swan’s large market gardens, which led to two adventurous vacations, allowed to help around the wonderland from day to day.

What an excellent figure of man Mr Swan was. He was not the tallest of tall, in fact his height was around 5 feet 4 inches, or a muscle-bound Mr Universe, but immensely strong of wirily stature, plus owning a red beard to shame Rob Roy. He could run faster backwards than Hector could full pelt forward. There was a rare kindness about him, honest and comforting. Mr Swan was the one who introduced Hector to the fact there was more than one type of relationship, and defiantly more types of complicated ladies…and men.

His pipe blew smoke continuously, coupled with his thankfully forgetful habit of leaving his half glowing pipes, dotted all over the place, with several different stages of shags and moistures, leaving sublime distinctive aromas, was opium to Hector’s breathing senses, which can still muster today, and right now, at the twitch of his nose. This is the scent Hector regularly hungers for, because of a distinct bouquet of varied seasonal earthy growth... mixed with tobacco of his splendid pipes. Mr Swan told a variety of stories in an exciting and educational way, without boasting... and when he was finished, you would wish you could have been there.

He spoke of his crossing over to the vastness of Canada, on five separate occasions, always by boat, with his first trip over in 1930. He would run every morning around the deck, and he used to race this young fellow, who turned out to be the number one athlete for Great Britain, in the August commonwealth games being held in Hamilton Canada that year. He apparently beat him most times, but, as Mr Swan stated, it was probably because the poor lad did not have his sea legs yet. He was not being a bragger, as he related his findings while working planting or pruning something within his market garden.

In a small way, he helped to build the railways through “The Rockies”, worked at mining, also employed in the brothel and cheap bars as a bouncer. If money were hard, and it often was, by all accounts, he would sleep rough. He was one of the thousands of drifters, in and out of all types of work. Yet…he always said, travelling abroad... was the making of the man
peter.howden Posted 16th Sep 2020, 07:28pm
  Hector, Beth and two soups;

Gazing on Beth innocently, as being a piece of living magic, Hector was a lost pup longing for her, at the tender age of 11 odds. He could hardly sleep in the darkness for her face cast almost constantly, introducing her features as paramount through simplest thoughts or actions during that summer splendour.

Beth had every quality a lad could wish for; drifting swept silky brown hair, so desired by style magazine photographers. Deep dark brown eyes to beckon the wildest of soul, hinting a magic smile to enchant a defeated devil, because of her natural innocent allure. Her walk defied gravity, as if strolling with the Gods themselves. Her voice echoed sweetly, to soften any discerning ear, but pierced the most resilient heart to become a willing slave, to her every whim, a beauty personified.

Hector was new to this game of passion, nevertheless entered it with the vigour of a seasoned Romeo, and the private presumption of a master ails Casanovas… even with Great Expectations, but never quite reached the qualifier (11 plus or otherwise). Observing Beth, formed a life of its own emotions…but unfortunately, at a distance

These unreturned expressions were paraded for the world to see the simple adorations and factual affection… but Beth was totally unaware. Each time she made entrance to the street they both lived, the sun shone through the heaviest rain to brighten up that moment. Graceful Beth would be seeming not only floated along the ground, but dance to wherever she wished to be. All Hector could do, was no more than stare.
He found himself timing to be at her close when he thought she was due out, not wish to waste one second or moment being with her. There was a problem…seen only as a friend, for she neither realizes he yearnings, nor ever encouraged him in any way, which was a bit of a hindrance to his affections. It became even more difficult when he discovered she acutely fancied dashing Gordon Campbell.

This boy had always been a thorn in Hector’s side, right from the first day meeting him in the street. He was good at everything, and anything he ever tried. To name any sport he did not excel in school, and you would be hard placed. He had the audacity to be good looking to boot, but the bested thing of all was….he was so dammed nice? He would make up excuses for trouncing Hector, when once again, beat the pants off him, (not literary, as it was still against the law, and anyway…. he’d probably wipe his ass with that too ?).

Having no choice than to accept his immeasurable fate … looking on from afar, hoping against all hope she would miraculously change her mind and view him in hero’s romantic light. Hector had no choice but to do something constructive so to fill in the lonesome time.

He decided to make a new bow and arrow out of garden canes, just like all the kids but he would slave to make it so well…Beth would look on and wonder…. but he inwardly knew, and if he were here, would tell you this…. Gordon Campbell(two soups) always made the best one…of anything?
peter.howden Posted 13th Sep 2020, 03:20pm

Welcome… yes welcome to the village of “Dreimire”, settled in seclusion and protection of the craggy stanie braes, in the deepest part of the highlands…yet, we have all the hot spots that any Metropolis in the known universe has… with some added attractions which little are known about. Remember as you are entering our boundaries... watch your speed. We have up to the minute, on the spot speed cameras in operation, focused directed to our main street and thoroughfares…so you have been warned.

If one of our local pedestrians spots a speeding motorist, or cyclist especially the butcher boy, immediately they press a button on special constructed lamp post, alerting Mr Mc Deed, the undertaker to come out of his closet with his flash. As a deterrent, it appears to work with the sight of Ernest Hardly Mc Deed( he was to be Christened ‘Hardy’ but the minister had a lisp) a lum hat, naked and painted black from head to foot.... from what he is flashing... scaring the living daylight out of drivers....always surprisingly effective.

We are proud... proud as punch, for the excellent cuisine personified in the ‘Ghilie Dhu’ and garnishes from the simplest of ingredients, tailored to perfection, second to none and equal to any comers in Scotland or indeed the European market we hear so much about... as long as cook rose in a good mood. “Punch” himself is seldom allowed into the centre of the village these days, after the unmentionable happening involving pea soup and a unscripted ladle placed in unspecified quarters. It was judged to be totally unhygienic by the village elders.

There is of course the dreadful red-light district, the scourge of any urban area. It’s up there but we don’t talk about it down here. This seedy establishment is run by Hardly’s older cousin; Ambrosia Hardly Mc Deed; (same clergyman christened her). She acquired the rudiments of equipment, mainly thirty red bulbs, from an electric company holding a closing down fire sale. Although getting on in years, by some forty and fourteen spans in age, she can be very flirtatious, even voluptuous, under such provocative lighting. Has been known to send guest into unbridled genital procreative behaviour, at the mere sight of her tartan helm, lifted above Church standard decency. Sensuous is the display… or so I have been told.

The export trade from the village varies in amounts. We tried to grow our own tartan stones, which to all practice and purposes take forever to we can find no local person, living or dead, who can recall cropping such marvels. Still, after watching Weir’s way (An Outer Hebrides boy by his accent) on the only translation photo boxes in the village, and the now defunct Rolf Harris, we struck gold. Tartans to order all suits, skirts and thingymabobs…weaving cost extra…and can you see it yet?

As a community, we have few one or two at the last count, of the new-fangled moving screen box in the corner of the communal hall…or the pub. Of a night, only one seedy programme we capture goggled eyed viewing is, the Glasga “Thingumhisgig”. ‘The laird O Ccoocaddens’ proudly displaying Scotland’s best

With good fortune, we do not suffer from hoodlums or graffiti except for Madam Mayor; with slogans of “Votes for women”, is rather set in her ways and in the past. There is a superb youth programme, run by Willie Hardly Mc Deed, who is proud of his Danish ancestry, giving special care to blond wee boys. With great personal pain, tries hard putting a little Viking culture into each of them, whenever the chance arises.
It’s just the simple things in life, gives pleasure to the gratified inhabitants of “Dreimire” village
peter.howden Posted 12th Sep 2020, 10:58am
  The Good Samaritan?

Like a sack of tatties, the old man dropped to his knees, utterly disbelieving the sight of his faithful mutt, just lying motionless at the side of the road. The dog had been excited while he and his elderly master, coming from the post office, the dog pranced off the pavement. Just at the moment, a fast-moving motor machine was passing. The driver had no chance to stop in time but swerved in a vain attempt but tragically failed.

As the aging man remained crouched down, staring apparently at nothing, a comforting hand reached out, gentle holding his shoulder. He turned around to see a face, which was not unknown to him, yet he could not quite place where he stayed. The taunt driver, almost crying , hurried towards the old man, in a desperate effort to console him. Both men mentally stunned as to what actually happened. Finally, the police became involved as witnesses tried to present their versions all at once.

The experienced policeman suggested someone should take the grieving aged man away from the horrible scene, as there was a café extremely near, buy him a good strong sweet tea to steady his nerves. The comforting hand beckoned to comply, leading the sobbing man to the café sanction. Once inside, he sat the elderly man down, ordering two strong teas. While awaiting the waitress to return, he told the old man his elbows of his jacket, were truly mawkit from the blood and tears involved. Encouraging the elder man to disrobe the garment, so he could make amends and rid the thread bearing sleeves of the manky grime.

Reassuring words passed from his lips as he assisted the senior man on with his jacket, followed soothing meaningless chatter. Within a minute or two, the Samaritan apologized for leaving ,but had an appointment and made good of his departure. The old man stood up, though still rather confused, returned to the accident scene, finding all the necessary duties had been completed, and his trusty old mutt had been taken away . All that was left was a couple of spots of blood, and a caring constable asking if aid was needed to return to his abode.

Entering into the home he shared with the dog, several tears fell from his already red eyes. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the money he had taken out of the post office before the accident. There was only £50… instead of the £100 he had withdrawn. He knew almost instantly that the Good Samaritan was a Briganer dipper. This meant he had not taken all the cash, only some… in an effort for his victim to believe ether he was mixed up, or somehow had used the cash.

The problem the distressed elderly mann faced, he knew who it was but could not say anything, having no proof. Sadly, silently…the old man closed his eyes, pretending he was in the woods walking with his faithful hound.
peter.howden Posted 11th Sep 2020, 07:55am
George (Thee Polar Bear) Part 3

George quickly settled by using our family fridge, reminding him of his true home, for it’s bitterly cold in the Sahara desert of a night, minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit…more than we could imagine. For several hours each night, he tiptoe’s daintily via the layers and compartments, a sort of Doctor Who’s Tardis (in reverse) making him a traveller without space. He had sometime in the past, discovered from a wind wandering 1992 newspaper, how 28,800 Spartacus ducks, in the Pacific Ocean… escaped confinement bondage. Out of the blue, George asked for our plastic ducks, Donald and Dafty by name, wishing to meet them, and the rest of the brace. How he associated our Donald and Dafty, with the Moby Duck break out, or even know their names, alludes us to this day… but ask for them he did !

I explained to him, how ‘Dafty’ doesn’t mind being called Donald…but ‘Donald’ detest being mistaken or dubbed Dafty. . Donald is our original plastic simulated yellow duck, from a bathroom of a Dundee Hotel. Before leaving I asked the receptionist, if I could purchase the duck, desperate for a present for ‘she who must be obeyed’, The kind manager gave him gratis free, plus Dafty. People may frown on us, treating them as one of the family, however… they were grand company while preforming ablutions, and particularly good listeners. The rest of the brace just grew from there…no explanation needed.

We explained they were asleep now, and we were just about to go up the wooden path to slumber land. George proved nimble when needs must, for he was in our king-sized bed as quick as a flash, if not faster. It felt strange sharing a bed with 470 K.G of white warm bear….little sleep visited us on that particular night. I bare witness, the adverts for hippos or bears sharing your bed, in peace and harmony, are undoubtedly not true. To many times were the plastic simulated yellow ducks squashed, when it came their turn to have a sleep over with him . Although George may be a tad fuzzy in the navigation field, he’s not related to the Bipolar family, extensively advertised via America cartoons and wee films

George was fine as long as he was in the fridge, having privacy and quietness, unless one or more of the plastic synthetic yellow ducks waddled in, thinking it was the passage to the pool. George was exceptionally neat and tidy inside the ice box, protecting the butter. He could not believe he was there, right there beside the idol of butter, the substance of life. However, we had to insist he left his comfort zone while, .She who must be obeyed’ made oatmeal seal lollypops, and sour milk sucking cups, as they took a lot of space. I’m whispering… ‘we cheated on the seal’, substituting sardines as everybody knows, due to salted seal crisps, has the monopoly on the fishy market

But outside the fridge George was bored…… and it was obvious, because it is a well-known fact when polar bears are bored, their paws smell something awful, and his did. It has something to do with the hairs of those large paws, so they don’t slip on ice. A well-known fact….Web feet always reek like kippers (not the fabulous ones from Arbroath).
peter.howden Posted 8th Sep 2020, 11:24am

She came out of nowhere, or this was how it seemed as I was concentrating on the awkward brown wheelie bin. I had nicked out for the weekly chore, wearing only a make do sleeping shirt my wife had bought for Christmas. This hooded phantasm sprang up against the bitter cold wind of the morning. Making her way through the well-used common footpath which ran at right angles next to our home... though at that time in the morning, usually not a soul can be seen. The cold air of the daybreak caused vapour swirling around my words of, “Good morning”, to the early Will of the wisp, who replied with warmth

The hoody came closer while I battled with the garden wheeled monstrosity, she called again, wishing, ‘good morning’, in a near coherent fashion. It was bloody cold, and my slippers were sliding as I made a precarious way down the driveway with the reputed mobile bin, heading for the street. By now, only separated by a hedge, she cleared her throat, called not so loud as before, “What time is it?”. as we were “think it must be somewhere near twenty-five to seven!”, I answered. “What time does the shop open” she asked rather woozy, with a slight hesitation in her voice. She asked, then answered the question herself, “I know it around 7”. She mumbled something, then repeated her question and answer

It was then I saw her in full street lighting reflecting cruelly, she was past her sell date but not because of her age but due to her disorder. The whiff or strong odour of stale drink followed her, even in the severe cold its unmistakable stench could be located about her person. A youngish woman of maybe 40 or so, however her face was haggard, weather beaten… with a yellow tinge. Although one was not there, sadly I felt a wart on her chin or nose would be appropriate for her appearance. Perhaps you may consider this as terrible and disgusting of me, to judge a fellow human being so… but that is how it was.

Even though I viewed her so harshly, she thanked me gently, but staggered coarse cough grinded her throat. She turned her wafer-thin body around, to retreat where she came from. Her close of her abode was right across the spare ground where the wee library once stood. The housing association had plans to build new homes there, but it never happened for one reason or another. The close door shut and after a wee while a small light went on in the house above, a lonely figure appeared at the window, staring wantonly out into the bleakness.

You may call it guessing or a terrible cast on her character, but the lady was desperate for liquor . She is well known locally as a wino running a country-club dwelling, or alky’s abode,…the Neighbourhoods colourful title
peter.howden Posted 2nd Sep 2020, 10:29am
  George (Thee Polar Bear) Part 2,

Confronted by a rather large polar bear, tends to leave the occupant speechless, or saying something really daft. The latter was my response, asking why George chose to use the number 41 bus to this home. The polar bear retorted with a wink in his eye, ‘The number 12 bus does not pass your door, come to think of it, neither does the subway?’ There was something about his ability to speak in a Glesga accent, I could not put my finger on…. even more broad Glesga twang than the famous actors, Francie & Josie.

Trying to be hospitable we offered the polar bear fish, and fish fingers if he preferred a snack. Seemingly with a very dry cough, he sort of growled friendly like, from the side of his mouth, an imitation of Sean Connelly, ‘where the hell was anybody likely to get fish in the Sahara Desert?’. Pausing suddenly with his explanation, I took a chance by asking, ‘Well, what do you eat?’. Having a blank expression while staring up to the ceiling, George uttered, still rather annoyed, “Smoky Seal’ crisps, and of course… Scott’s Porridge Oats... but not sandwiches, definitely not sandwiches!”. He changed his tone adding, “Never tasted Porridge, but just in case, I always have a spurtle around my person!”

Neglecting the fact, he may be sensitive, I carelessly chose a wisecrack, ‘was the sand in the bread too much to swallow ?’. George looked miffed, and within a will of the wisp, I rued this throw away remark. Back came Sean’s threatening accent, “I don’t mind mockery; however, I cannot abide ridiculousness at a bear’s expense”. He further added “The reason I chose not to munch sandwiches, simply the reckless use of precious butter would melt by the heat of the sun before I had a chance to spread evenly… margarine has the same tendency… but no loss there!”. No growl, no roar, but a definite display of bored awareness.

For example, George explained if he had a penny for every time he heard, “how to catch a polar bear, by cutting a hole in the ice and surround it with peas. Wait for the silly bear to come along wanting a pea, and then kick him in the hole”, he would be a Millionaire in ‘Smoky Seal crisps’. Now, there is nothing worse than a polar bear trying to act ridiculous… apart from George substitute sensibly… for honesty.
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