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> Home Made Tales, The journey
peter.howden
post 19th Sep 2021, 10:16am
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Life in a Glesga Close Part 2

There were a few pliable reasons…‘not excuses’, but explanations why naive Ben was unready for matrimony was his little foibles. Having a ‘Gung Ho’ attitude to life, plus raw laxity dealing with money affairs. Ben’s approach was simply having cash …spent it willy-nilly. When broke, acquire it one way o another, not a Glesga chancer…but maybe nearly. Though not planned, one Sunday night while dinning in a Chinese Restaurant, unexpected asked for his lover's hand the next Friday. This proved more than difficult, but they were wed in three weeks. The marriage proposal was genuinely from the heart…perhaps to this very day!

Arriving late morning Ben exchanged nods with the proprietor of the chicken yard. He stated only live birds today, as the staff had been on a bender the night before and incapable to turn up for work. So, for a tanner off the usual half a dollar, one squirming squawking chicken with its feet tied together was thrust on surprise Ben. The owner did leave a word of warning in a dire voice, “Don’t let the bird see it coming”. Ben then had great difficulty taking the auld boiler home, as it was sure it did not wish to go.

In the auld closes everyone seemed to ken your business and there was always a person known locally as the ‘Daily Record’… keeping everyone up to date with the latest rumour and gossip. On this occasion no need because with three stories high, three doors in each landing, the nervous chicken, psychologically demonstrating it was not chicken, constant flapping wings feverishly for freedom, while croaking weird shrieking echoes which bounced noisily off the walls throughout the close. Ben Struggled upward, achieved reaching top flat, opened front door to the single end…stepping into safety. However, Ben endeavours left the door half a jar…a huge mistake!
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peter.howden
post 21st Sep 2021, 07:54pm
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Life in a Glesga Close Part 3

In a fit of pique, another slight error was letting go of the now manic fowl, whose feet were still tied but it’s outspread wings were not! Ben recalled how a swan’s wing can break a human arm. A single end is exactly what it was, and his frustration turned unable to capture this nerve-racking clucking bird. In the midst of mounting chaos, if only he could have a square go with the squint-eyed sleekit hen, he thought of a desperate plan consisting of a rope and Axe!

Gingerly Ben checked under the table and under the bed only hearing a continuous squawk coming from elsewhere, but no clue where, or from what direction. He looked in the coal bunker, full of dross, but the din was sharper…as if a long complaining moan. The front door was wide open now…but how? From a lower distance, a constant eerie croak sneaks out from the half-landing toilet. Cautiously Ben tiptoed down to the landing’s lavatory, eased the door slowly open and there behind the u bend, the shivering bird as if it was crocking at its own wake !

What could Ben do…but sympathize with the bird’s dilemma. He recalled Jack Hargreaves, of telly fame, just ‘how’ to carry a live terrified animal without ‘it’, or you being harmed? Closing the door to prevent any more shenanigans, rushed back to the abode picking up what was needed for success. Back down and carefully wrapped the now trapped chicken in an old army blanket. Ben calmly marched through the streets, reaching the area known as ‘Egypt’, and the children’s Zoo, in Tollcross park…donating the bird to their care.

His wife was dubious about his explanation, and why they were having…toast and beans that night.
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peter.howden
post 27th Sep 2021, 10:24am
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Life in a Glesga Close Part 4

This time period was at the very end of the so-called swinging sixties, although the streets of Oatlands hadn’t quite caught up with the zany bug, mainly due to still being lumbered with the Victorian inbred social class system, ‘know your place’ for all assumed, Upper, Middle, and the obvious lower poverty class, who bowed to this antiquated school taught system….which is still with us. Most times away from school, children of all ages where in the streets playing football, rounders, statues, girls skipping ropes and peeves. In the backs around the manky midden areas(searching for magic bins) or play acting at shops with bottle tops as money to pay for soggy waste cardboard and empty milk bottles. Unfortunately, these unstable areas where all dogs and cats in the district, laid their wastes.

With a few exceptions, most closes were kept immaculately spick and span, with pride by females on each landing took their turns to scrub on their knees, plus sanitizing the mid-stairs landing loo…considered by both husband and wife, not a man’s job.

In the early 70s, Ben and his wife possessed a second hand much prize Churchill pram … which most mornings, carted down to the front of the close. Left adjacent to the enclosed armature football ground, to give their firstborn fresh air. A couple of hours later, hauled back up the flights of stairs. This may seem almost barbaric in today’s society indifferent to the safety of the precious child, but totally common place reliable behaviour for all respectable caring mothers, consistently checking through the abode’s window, plus hourly physically scrutinizing their precious baby.

The constant fear for Ben…was a massive hound outside the door belonging to neighbours one flight down from his single end
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peter.howden
post 29th Sep 2021, 02:59pm
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My Chronicles 29/09/2021….

Wow…what a confusing but astonishing place Queen Elizabeth Hospital is, but so easily become lost , especially now my brain has a mind of its own and goes wandering…without instructions. ‘She who must be obeyed’, suffered an unstoppable nosebleed on last Friday night about 8.30pm. By half eleven we had no choice but to drive to the Emergency Clinic in the Royal Infirmary. Being the September holiday weekend, the usual chaos was limited to six patients. Fortunately, Rebecca was taken quickly into the hidden ward for examination, at 2.30am I was called, informed of a transfer to the E.N T, wards in Queen Elizabeth hospital almost immediately. I drove home alone.

Next Day because of the annual holiday, traffic and car space at the hospital was relaxing and easy. Finding the actual location of 11b ward inside the open planned hospital, was more than confusing and frustrating. The virus has taken its toll on the dedicated staff, no person for information…so I was a lost hobo. The doctors and nursing staff in the final located 11b, where helpful in every way feasible , but the poor wee soul, known as ‘She who must be obeyed’, lay knackered sprawled out, with two long plugs up both nostrils. Each day slow improvement could be seen. Last night we manged to escape(with permission) and headed home on a near empty motorway.

The vets’ simple instructions were… do not touch or blow the nose, no hot tea, no hot showers. This morning we had a long lie in, Rebecca still unsure and slightly wonky taking her shower, while I acted a lifeguard(with expert previous experience). Each hour the patient movements improve as being home makes quite a difference in attitude, for now I can hear her laughing while on the phone to Nikki, our daughter….back to the ironing board…any volunteers ??
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peter.howden
post 3rd Oct 2021, 06:15pm
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I wanted to be parallel to Dylan Thomas…but became more like Dylan from Magic Roundabout !


Life in a Glesga Close Part 5


The stairway leading all the way up to Ben’s tiny, but cosy abode, involved daily awkwardly downward journey with the Churchill Pram, resulted in a bloody difficult ascending later. The landings were no intermediate relief with the big pram taking up every inch manoeuvring around a full half circle, hoping no door was scratched in the process. Before descending(bumping down each step) or ascending( bumping up and struggling), it was common sense to make double sure no one was on the entire stairway before progressing with this military operation.

The timing when, or if the hound of hounds was there outside the door, was totally unpredictable, because of the hippy lifestyle occupants who worked bizarre hours. Even when within their dwelling, their routine was way out with weed, making it impractical to assist if their hound was indeed sprawled out obstructing the way past. Was it passive, or aggressive beast…Ben had no clue the first few clumsy meetings on the stairway, but luck was with him? Ben and his wife were left a wee stray pup by local kids, leaving Ben’s intentions to take it to a dog rescue. Next morning the mutt’s wagging tail, changed their plans…they named the whelp Titch…?

From that moment onward, while humping the baby and pram, up and around the steps, the enormous beast would rise to its full hight, sniffed at both pram and Ben, obviously detecting the pup, followed behind him to the front door. Once baby and pram were safe inside, as he closed the door, Ben witness the sad eyes of this colossus of a dog…as if being denied a desired meeting with the mutt. Also, from then on when mother and child were out shopping, Ben allowed the beast in to rough and tumble with Titch. This alone seemed to give the large dog the right to sit outside Ben’s front door…per chance to play with his puppy pal

Next tale…The brute jumps over the Richmond Park closed gates
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peter.howden
post 5th Oct 2021, 11:39pm
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Life in a Glesga Close Part 6

Because of its bulky build, the hound downstairs did give the instant impression of being dangerous. Fortuitously, due to an overpowerful scent, unable to be detected by humans, an invisible trail was penetrating the hound’s nostrils every time Ben passed the sprawled out on the stairway canine. It wasn’t intimidating Ben for he was sure the hound only wished to be with his pal ‘Titch’, so he four-legged beast would follow Ben’s footsteps wherever they were going…in hope of a doggy rendezvous. This regularly proved more than cumbersome, with the massive hound followed the obscure aroma no matter where, when or the weather.

When leaving in the morning for work the bulky hound followed him to the bus-stop, causing the queue concern for their safety. Ben had to head back to the close, then dive through to the back, skip through the middens and over the wall… suit all in a kerfuffle . Once again at the bus stop, Ben darted across the road followed by the heavy mutt striding into the park. Ben swiftly double back, then shut the Richmond Park gates behind him. The bogie mutt took it in its stride, by leaping out over the gates. Apparently, the pooch did this feat often by jumping into the green and chasing the ferocious swans, just for fun.

On Fridays after work, it was the custom in these parts for men to gather in one of five pubs in the small area known as Oatlands. Any one of them were crowded beyond capacity at any given time on that day. Ben decided to pop along for a couple of beers one Friday, and the massive hound followed in hope to be led to his playmate. Entering the swing doors, the crammed crowd preformed the parting of the mass, allowing the duo to pass with ease. At the now spacious part of the bar’s counter, one guy came close, almost ready to pat the dog on its head, asking, “what’s the dog’s name?”…”I don’t know, it’s not my hound!” said Ben. The now scared, if not terrified man drew back his hand away from the mutt, hastily disappeared into the gathering…though a pew odour remained?
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peter.howden
post 5th Oct 2021, 11:51pm
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Next…a gift from next door
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peter.howden
post 12th Oct 2021, 11:32pm
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Life in a Glesga Close Part 7

The peoples of Oatlands where certainly not the rich’s community within our dear green place, but boy they had empathy by the bucketload, with money and things, almost to a fault. Within the area there was more than the fair share of families reputed close on the top of the poverty list. Ben never heard anybody in the area saying they were poor, short of a few bob was common, skint even, but not down and out was certainly not their style. They dealt with problems, with a spirit of inner kindness, revealing deep-rooted compassion for the elderly… and those worse off than themselves.

The abode could be cosy, particularly more so when the coal fire was burning in the hearth, with flickering dreams and dancing shadows. Another treat was when in front of the fire the baby’s bath being used by the supposed adults, after the first born was bathed, talcumed and wrapped up well in a shawl, sleeping in her pram. Even in such a wanting situation there was no hiding the old-fashioned drab brownish wallpaper pattern, spoiling the allusion. As soon as the neighbour’s next door, heard Ben wished to redecorate, they insisted him borrowing their old wooden ladders. Ben gladly took the rickety steps inside, rested them against the coal bunker door….prepared for an early start in the morning.

He woke up slightly itchy here or there, but mainly there under the bedclothes’, as the itchiness seemed to wander. As usual bright riser…this is when the pure horror began on the bed where wee blackie things were jumping about. In a state of disbelief or disbelief, Ben pulled all the bedcovers right back was when his poor suffering wife sprang up definitely in abrupt jolt. The bed was covered by jumping fleas.

Ben believed the only reason for this unwanted invasion, was the cracks on the old wooden ladders. The offender steps were hastily out of their abode, left resting at the neighbour’s door with a large note…thanks but no thanks. Ben used every kind of detergents, scrubbed into the mattress and bed base, while his wife took all bed linen, and covers to Outland’s steamie. Neighbourly kindness personified?

Next;…Last straw miners’ strike
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peter.howden
post 15th Oct 2021, 10:56am
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Life in a Glesga Close Part 8

Ben took little notice of the black gold until he and his wife lived in Toryglen St, nationally numerous rumbles under the ground led to a serious of coal miner strikes. On December 13, 1973, the country’s Parliament ruling body decided to call a three-day week to save energy. Whither this was the original winter of discontent was debatable since there had been so many throughout the country’s troubled history. This did not mean only working three days especially if you were in retail, it just meant working under candlelight or battery power or just simply opened the door for existing daylight. All in all, it was a bloody chilly time.

The only source of heat in the single end was the open fire, but no coal deliveries for weeks. Regularly in all districts in Glasgow electricity was cut leaving the oven futile for those days. During this time Ben collected old wood from the local Richmond Park, tapering off very quickly as others had the same motive. Desperate times meant desperate steps, for right along Rutherglen Road, once posh Redstone tenements, built when coal was king of industry, sadly boarded for years waiting for demolition. These houses had all individual coal bunkers, with perhaps some dregs of coal left behind. There and then, Ben headed back home, donned old clobber, grabbed a hammer, chisel, plus a torch, headed for the unknown back of the buildings’, forcing his way through a small gap, which led to an open stairway.

Chance was with Ben invading each house on the musty flight of stairs, ripping the aged boards off the doors to find remains of black gold, enough coal to last several days, making briquettes out of the dross. Each escapade was taken on days when electricity was switched on, returning home triumphant with booty, although covered in soot. it took some time sitting in front of newly blazing fire, scrubbing in the baby bath…but it was worth the toil. Several successful weeks returning to the Redstone houses, sometimes going from staircases, through brick walls to the next abandoned close. Then one day proceeding through another boarded close, he heard someone angerly hollering ...reverberating through the dark eerie derelict tenement?

Next; hallo…hallo…hallo!
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peter.howden
post 18th Oct 2021, 11:41am
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My Chronicles 17/10/2021

‘She who must be obeyed’ has managed to return to a more comfortable routine, helped by meeting up with auld buddies in the Bowling clubs, and visiting the Glasgow craft fair with another group of girls(oldish lassies). It is a personal relief and pleasure to see Rebecca in her happy mould, enjoying the company of her true friends…magic.

Also first thought of during naughty virus lockdown, ‘She who must be obeyed’, constructed three long rows of twine, individually pinioned to the hall wall, separate pictures pinned to each twine offering a display of different timepieces throughout the family, and friends. Adding to her creation of a photograph gallery organized in the lobby… A mug shot of me looking all the way like a thug, a criminal, unfortunately there is very little I can say about that…or my past might come to light.

A few weeks ago, Chris invited me to join the boys, first to meet up in Glasgow’s historical 1797 ‘Sloans’ roadhouse (with the turnpike stair but no cock fighting these days), just for a slight refreshment. Followed by everyman cinema ‘Princes’ Square, to appreciate in comfort, the latest ‘James Bond’ extravaganza . Everything was set for yesterday, but when I stepped off the bus to reach the top of Buchanan St, looking down to Argyle St, more than a little apprehensive pulsation cause by the mass of people milling around was astonishing. It was the most crowded sight I had witnessed since before the first lockdown.

Persevering downward I began to be part of the throng and less intimidated…I’m glad I did. Joining up with Simon, Andrew, Chris, and his brother-in-law Tony(good company) to a superb, relaxed couple of hours. The actual cinema served drinks of any kind you may wish to be partaken, while sitting in comfort in front of a huge screen. I will not comment on the movie as this would not be fair to those who wish to see the flick… but two things I can say. One; it was unlike the unique concept. two;…a new ‘West Side Story’ invades the screen in December, but for an aging old grump like me…I cannot see how the this new adaption… better the original.

Thank you, Chris…our son…pure dead brilliant
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