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> Home Made Tales, The journey
peter.howden
post 6th Mar 2019, 12:28pm
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HOT AIR UTOPIA;2

The wee balloon had been no further than a few streets away from his mother and father’s little home, but to him it was a whole new horizon, exciting as well as nerve-racking, and at times almost taking his very air. He had been told, by a visiting Scandinavian spheroid, there were no vapour clouds in the sky. They were the brains of some giants and the sky was held up by four dwarfs called North; South; East & West. He could not argue though he could remember thinking they must be hell of a big dwarfs, and anyway, he was a friend of his papa’s and a bit of a blow hard. The same balloon mentioned a place called ‘Valhalla’ though the wee balloon was sure it was not the ‘Utopia’ he was searching for.

Travelling most of the morning, he had to admit of being puffed out, totally inexperienced for soaring so high, never able to stop because he was at the mercy of the wind. Now inwardly thinking, perhaps he had been foolish to leave the safety of his home, when, a gush of hot air, levitated him higher into the blue yonder, blowing his mind just how wonderful it was seeing other fabulous places. By now he would have to rest, after all he was quite small, so he would try to land.

Down below he saw a deserted football pitch, empty of dreaded human beings. So…the brave wee balloon, with hidden talent, managed to manoeuvre to hit the penalty box. Laying closely by, facing the goal, was a much bigger old rough looking bladder, who gave cover from a waft, which would certainly have whisked the young wee balloon to foreign parts.

After the niceties all balloons convey to each other, without humans catching on, the wee balloon asked the old bladder “Do you enjoy human company?”. “Well!”, said the crinkled ball, “When I was younger, I was taken home, tenderly cared for, but now… left out in the cold”. “Now don’t get it wrong, I have been whacked by almost every kind of boot. I got a kick out of being airborne, sadly it’s controlled by you know who, and it is never free-lancing,” grumbled the old ball. “I would give my laces, to fly free like you… but, Que Sera…Sera!”.

The wee balloon wondered if this could be ‘Utopia’ but judging by the deformed shape of his new friend, he doubted it. When asking his pal, he mistrusted it also. The wise old ball reasoned, if you were in ‘Utopia’, then you could not wish for anything else. Before they could talk any more, a large whisk of air took the wee balloon into the skies once again. The rising small orb, truly wished he had a chance to say Goodbye at least, however, he may meet the old bladder again

He floated up and away, to where ever the cruise would take him. Once more excited, very much hoping to find ‘Utopia’ and he was certain, he would know it, when he found it…for…Utopia maybe… just a breath away?
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peter.howden
post 7th Mar 2019, 10:04am
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Anecdotes from the auld Steamie;

Steamie Family;

It was the night before Christmas, all through the washhouse was not in the least, deftly silent. Affectionally known as the “Steamie”, housed in the old Victorian building standing in the centre of the hard-working community. Unlike the famous poem, it was a beehive of frantic, without a mouse to be seen. Amid the surge for the regular patrons, a hoachin scourge of so-called scrubbers ‘Once a year washers’, within the walls of the Steamie.

Amongst these annual intruders, ‘Wally closes’ snottery tenants, regarding themselves a step above all others in the area, would normally give a body-swerve, to such a common establishment. Others, chanty-wrastlers, one-off clients, deemed simply as manky clatty middins, because their bedclothes and curtains were just washed and scoured only at this festive time of the calendar. Regulars grumbled very loudly, “Gies them the boak”. how these glaikit hoachin parties, buckie-up the queue. Everybody came due to the ancient Scottish tradition, a total clean sweep before Hogmanay…spick and span for Ne’erday.

Even with the special hours allocated, attempting to accommodate everyone was a gigantic headache, because the ‘Honkin Mob’, not possessing the smooth rhythm the regulars bestowed. They held up the easy going routine which led to flashing hot spots, where many a stramash erupted, as deep and dirty as the Clyde. Male attendants stayed safely out the way, while hair and lug pulling, by mental hauners. The establishment or workers never witnessed a regular punter losing an intense laldy, or physical stooshie due to an unassuming fact …they outnumbered the others.

The typical weekly punters, if necessary looked and acted hard as nails, with coupons battle hard, filled with punishing life they were forced to bare. A lack of money being common place, complicated by dreadful living conditions, making the ‘Steamie’ their sanction amongst their peers. Their rough and ready appearance hid their true nature and natural banter, able to oust top comedians of the day. If anyone was in trouble, needing a helping hand, without words, they would bond together and remedy the problem...at true warmth kindness beyond description

Old Steamies had jawbox’s(sinks), Spin-dries, horses (15 gallus sliding railings, to hold cloths and fabrics, constant hot air pumping from the coal boiler) …with the furthest end unit used by the attendants, to store and enjoy a private swally of illicit alcohol brought in by the Girls. The women generously bequeathed gratuities on the workers, because of the help they gave during the whole year. In their minds, any worker bauchle who only helped for a tip, or lazy bawheid who just did not bother to aid wee elderly wummin…received he-haw

Since time immemorial, the Scottish race have been given unjustly, a mean reputation, alleging being tight, and miserable with money. When they had so little themselves…. these yesteryears braw housewives proved this as utter nonsense.

It was the night before Christmas, when all the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there
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peter.howden
post 11th Mar 2019, 08:19pm
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THE HONEYS

How we came to meet the ‘Honeys’ was in every manner of the words, pure chance, or as other people would have it, fate. Whether it was a combination of random happenings, or pre destined by a mysterious power, is of little importance to the event, but the pleasure full aftermath is, and still within our minds.

The story starts, not at the beginning as you would automatically think, but at the sort of middle for ‘She who must be obeyed’, and myself at least. We were made aware how somebody down south was trying to contact William Donnelly, who lived in London. Next, Nancy, my mother in law, received a letter from a family called ‘Honey’, maintaining, for one reason or another, being unable to meet up with William. Pam Honey was related through her mother’s marriage to one of the original Donnelley tribe, whose Matriarch in Glasgow was Rebecca’s granny.

The letter explained the bones of what was in her hopeful mind, wishing to meet all Donnelly’s, and progenies, who helped her sister Connie and her mum, and herself, during the appalling war. Apparently, they were evacuated up to Glasgow, residing with Rebecca’s distant family for a short time…thereafter, never forgotten the experience.

Becky was curious, though quite rightly, had considered whether we were the right family, and if we were, all the complications may be brought to light. She, Uncle David and Rebecca, talked it over, perceiving it was a good idea, in principal, but just in case it did not work out, it would make sense, to hold the meeting in intimate surroundings. I do know, Rebecca was always interested in the family wider screen, as strangely she had been working on the family tree for some considerable time.

Therefore, it was arranged everyone would meet in our home in Barlanark Place, top flat no less. We would make sure all available family would be there, but most important, Aunt Becky, Nancy and the old war horse uncle David. Like many of our country folk, we laid on a spread, including slight refreshments.

Most of the wide family did attend, with only myself left out due to me working that evening, for the Glasgow District Council. When I did manage to join the party, it was quite late on in the evening, but it was apparent by the jollity among all, all had a good time. I was introduced to Rebecca’s cousin Pam, her daughter Allison, and the infamous hubby, Jack Honey. My instant impression being, they were very pleasant people, more important, they gave off a glow, encircled everything, and everyone.

Some weeks passed, if not months, in each of my exchanging dispatches, the constant primer; “The Scottish Hordes”, presenting pages of very badly hand-written, mostly nonsense, Unaware at the time, my bulletins, were not being read in the usual manner. Discovering much later, once Pam herself had a stab at reading the pages, Jack would attempt making sense, with little or sometimes no success, not only defining what had been written, or what it meant…but why was it scribbled in the first place.

They would then hand them from place to place, friends and folks, within Freathy neighborhood, near their chalet on the cliffside facing the ocean, to see if the local team effort could help. I had no clue this was going on, and to what trouble they would go trying to decipher what, who, or how. Nice, is a word overused, often devalued because of the glib way it is brought into conversation…but the ‘Honeys’ were just nice people, in any tongue. Rebecca and I were invited down to Torpoint and Freathy, for a holiday, and chuffed to make such travels.

The day arrived as we travelled southward by train, near reaching Plymouth, a vital question put both of us in a quandary. Rebecca asked if I would be able to recognize Pam and Jack, as it had been some time since their visit. Rebecca became rather apprehensive when I piped in, I was relying on her, as she spent the whole night in their company. After a while, ‘She who must be obeyed’, comforted herself because she reasoned, quite correctly, how they would recall me inside a crowd, as most people did …for I did stick out like a sore thumb.

Next. The arrival to magic
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peter.howden
post 14th Mar 2019, 09:39am
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THE HONEYS( Arrival)

There are people with a magic knack for a visitor to feel genuinely welcome, with no effort at all, Pam and Jack possessed buckets full of this quality. Jack, a retired navy man, Fleet / Commander Master Chief Petty Officer no less, straight minded and no frills, used ordering personnel, being obeyed to the letter. I know I have a bad habit asking fool questions, without truly thinking about them, and for a man of Jack’s bearing, to pretend not to notice, what can be said other than being a lovely man.

Allison, their charming daughter, was in birth Down’s syndrome, very quietly spoken during the daily acute time routine, however, within the privacy of her room, Allison mind was a wonder maze, as sharp as any programmer producer, completely ruthless doer within her world, the mighty B.B.C network,, manufacturing severe ordering speeches to her underlings. Alison’s personal treasure, was numerous boxes, filled with years old radio times squashed to the brim, and odd colour numbered cards sticking out in seemingly random fashion, yet her filing system baffled me. Given a precise date, she would, within seconds…produce the wanted magazine.

Pam’s mum was residing in an old folks’ home, situated in Plympton. As we arrived, an old man, armed with a stick, shuffled along in slippers, slipping through the main gate. Some 30 yards away, two nurses in hot pursuit …like a page out of a Benny Hill farce. I thought “Escape Coldish as old man… foils cushy guards by shuffling…fast”.

We found Pam’s mum, charming and pleasant, but soon realized her ability to remember was impaired, but there was a sharp button underneath. Just as we were leaving, she held my hand tightly, sniffing while she explained no one came to see her, and she was always lonely. It was not true, as both Pam’s sister Connie, and Pam, visited every single day, but the old lady could make me believe her plight. As an actress she was on her own par…at the last moment, she switched her alert mind, asking for something to be brought in by Pam

Pam and Jack pulled out all the stops, trying to fit in as much of the rugged Cornwall as physically possible. Not only did they arrange everything but treated us to home cooking, Cornish style. The food was tantalizing to the palate. The company excellent, however the home-made beer took a long time to come accustomed to my palate, about three seconds. Travelling upwards to the powerful ‘Dartmoor National Park’, a beautiful brooding vision of a dream, unbelievably with rich wild life to boot. The people liked it so much, they put a prison there.

As mentioned earlier we found out by accident, Scottish and Cornwall nations had not only Gaelic in common, but a reputation of tightness in the purse region. This proved false, as far as our hosts were concerned, for we had great difficulty in dipping our pockets. So much so, I planned to pay for the petrol the first time the car landed in a garage, but it never did. They must have persuaded fairies to fill it up during the night, while we slept. It was a big Volvo car they drove; its tank could not be that big. Could it?

All I can say, it was a delightful two weeks, and fortunate for us, became a true close friendship bonded, also, we were invited to return the following year. Our correspondence increased under the same headline, ‘The Scottish Hordes’, with me totally unaware what hops they went through interpret the scribbles.

Next; The last Farewell.
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peter.howden
post 17th Mar 2019, 11:28am
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THE HONEYS( Last Farewell)

Following our return home, a host of letters continuously posted from both directions north and south, with the only differences being…north bound being easily legible. The old man at the gate, making his dart for freedom, inspired me to scribble a few postcards to Pam’s mum. These started with, the ‘Scottish Hordes’ would come down, and rescue her from Staleg 13. After a short while, rethinking the situation Pam’s mum was in, meant the daily nurses would have to read these communications to the old lady. I swiftly cut my stupidity by concluding script in such a manner, adding a flowery style. Pam frequently mentioned how Mum treasured her cards from Scotland

Our second visit down to Freathy, Cornwall, had us staying in Jacks self-built chalet, clifftop retreat, with its magnificent complete wall of glass, to view the everchanging sea. We spent many an evening after alfresco supper, just talking, and breathing the romantic air. In general conversations, it was clear that their lives together was not all sublime, for they had more than their share of heartache, and pain, but their plain approach drowned any self-pity, to make the very best of everything, with a twinkle in their eyes.

My last night there, I could not sleep. Around one in the morning, I ventured into the main room, poured a generous special whisky, sat for a couple of hours, sipping… just watching the moonlight sea, as it captures my thoughts…pure dead brilliant.

Jack lost his Pam swiftly through cancer, and she had no wish for anyone to see her during her last painful short weeks. Jack bought large mirrors, placing them all around the main bedroom, making it possible for Pam to see her beloved vision of the sea…no matter how she lay…through her last days.

When Pam sadly died. I attended the funeral, being introduced to most of the guests, not by name, but by my nom de plume, ‘Scottish Hordes’, being surprised how they knew who I was. Close friends and family returned to the chalet that she treasured. It was a beautiful day, the company tried to keep the tears away by talking grand passionate memories of past times, and what Pam liked most of all, swimming in the sea. It was suggested to go for a dip in Pam’s sea. Along with Andy, Bill and some others, supported with borrowed trunks that’s what we did. It is what Pam would have proposed. I may not be able to fill Jacks shoes, but I had a whacking time filling his shorts.

A word of warning for those who are not aware, being Cornish seaweed virgins. Do not go into the sea when there is ether a continent, or vowel in the month. It is colder than the sea at Aberdeen, especially with knitted swimming trunks?

Shortly after Pam’s tragic demise, his truly great love of his lifetime, I attended the unexpected funeral when Allison passed away. Later his mother in law also died, unfortunately I could not make it. All this in a very short 18 months period. He had heart operation at the tender age of 74. Several times I drove down just to see, and stay with him, before his own demise…sad and haunting.

A glancing thought, and Freathy White sands Cornwall is within me, along with ghostly voices of the past, filling the air with cooling smiles. This is the ultimate gift “The Honeys” gave us, and I thank them within my heart. I will not say they were a perfect family, but they have certainly enriched our family for knowing them…. and you can’t get much better than that, can you?
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peter.howden
post 19th Mar 2019, 12:50pm
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The Pack

To untrained eyes, there were places covered, and protected, by unseen magic, where the reality is, it’s down to a whiff. Do not be misled by this phenomenal ability, the science of sensing…It was… and still is, beyond human comprehension, being superior by well over 10000,000 times more than any human

Not so long ago, when the discipline of time itself was dictated by daylight, the stars, and the weather, there existed a particular large wilderness terrain, offering meagre existence, and life expectancy. In the middle of such despair, due to exceptional climatic conditions, intensely within a secluded valley, occurred an abundant range of forage, encouraging assortment of grazing animals, ruled a family pack of wild dogs.

Through countless generations, the group pack’s endurance depended of intimate network communication, obtained by having a wild dog’s nose inhaling ability, sniffing complex odour molecules, messages through pee, different senses used through poo evolution, and sexual orientations.

Imperative for the life, or death of the close knitted successful clan’s presence, depended on absolute trust of each other’s individual capabilities, working as one unit, marking precious territory. The result of interacting was having entire knowledge of every blade of grass, each twist and turn of any escape route from danger within their domain…. knowing precisely where that dangerous marauding foes were.

Unfortunately, they lost their aged natural front-runner. Some may say the following is most unlikely… for in the balance of the wilds of nature even impossible… but it did happen…with absolute unbelievable hidden consequences. In the jungle, sneaky Jackals come in mating pairs. However, the incredible arrival of this devious duo was…they were two old insignificant spinsters. Due to the confusion in the pack, with deception, the yappers wormed there way into the core of the group.

Ominously for the bewildered wild dog family, a pair of stripped sibling Hyenas took over-all charge, not consulting with any dog, nevertheless, partaking intimate clandestine gatherings with the Jackals…. Which penetrated up the pack’s proboscises. The wily shifty incomers denied the pack, to operate any form of yakking networking… or they just willy-nilly urinated all over their specialized communicational scents.

A relentless urgent problem quickly arose, possible invasion domination due to the lack of genuine marking within their territory, and letting the outside world interrelate with them…on common ground.

Since the Jackals and Hyenas, were sourly oblivious to the necessity of wild dogs’ markings…Survival depending exclusively on the art of sniffing odours…quite simply… they didn’t smell right
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peter.howden
post 21st Mar 2019, 01:38pm
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Young Ben…


Chance is a funny thing, it can happen with unseen casualness. At certain precise times Ben wished it had forgotten it’s unwritten duty, by surprising everyone concerned, even when it is far from being beneficially befallen to the main person. It springs in all directions for good, and not so good… it is that way we most remember its presence.

Per Chance, for a short period, 8 Gorbals Street, became Ben’s home, on the corner of Carlton Place. The house was large for the district, with three bedrooms, sitting room, kitchen and bathroom as it stood then, right where the modern Glasgow Court is now. Ben’s mother maintained her opposing way against liquor although she always had a fair measure of the “water of life”, complete with a piece of Dundee cake, in bed every night…. for medicinal reasons, she reminded the family.

Per Chance, much against his mother’s wish, Ben was placed in the special Hollybrook school, for disabled children taken, then brought back, in a wee grey van/bus, for all the world. A couple of those incapacitated children totally disproved the theory, all disabled children have lovely natures and cute in a funny way.

Per chance, a bigger boy, who used crutches, took an instant dislike against wee Ben, for ever break or lunch time, while in the playground, out of sight of any teacher, he tripped Ben up to land awkwardly on concrete. This behaviour continued until one day, Ben was told this was his last day at this school. The last playtime, Ben kicked the big tormenter’s crutches away, who then immediately blubbered loudly. Ben was branded a bully by the headmaster, he reckoned most people would assume this without knowing the whole story.

Per chance, across the river was Broomielaw, a bus terminal, but on the quay, for easy storage, was mountains of coarse sand, stone chips, pebbles, granite and bricks. This was a magic magnet terrain, enticing children to come from near or far, devising devil dare games, unaware it was really a horrible black spot for accidents, sometimes death for bairns falling into the water. No matter how they tried to secure the area, the kids managed in, with a mixture of innocence and mischief.

Per Chance, one day while playing slides, Ben lost his glasses case, went home without it, even forgot it altogether… until a knock on the door about six to eight weeks later. A workman, in overalls, came to return Ben’s glasses case, because Ben’s name and address was taped inside. It was his mother’s habit from the war, marking everything from cloths to underwear, in case something accident happened. Although not that often, the slipper came out, making contact quite a few times with Ben’s Bahookie…. because by chance, a man took the bother to return an item to its rightful home.

Per chance, one day while Jim Miller and Ben, walked to Cuthbertson Primary School, about a mile or so away from the Gorbals, they constantly used the money given for bus fare, on sweets. As usual, they passed the “Star Bar” at Eglington Toll. With great delight, found loads of coins lying in the street, which must have been dropped by a drunken man the night before. They busied themselves gathering this bountiful treasure, Jim picking anything coming to hand, while Ben was aiming at the silver stuff. When eventually they counted out the bounty, Jim was muffed because he collected, three shillings and nine pence, far more coins than Ben …. However, Ben scooped about, 2 and fifteen shillings… give or take!

Per chance, Ben’s family was awoken by firemen, in attendance to a fire in a garage right behind the home, concerned about it spreading, ordered the evacuation of their wally close. At three in the morning, finding themselves in the coldness of the street. Apparently, there was a lady worried a wee snout such as Ben would freeze, guided them both, up to her home which consisted of a very small hallway, with a single room, packed with people. Ben was told afterwards, he stood with his mouth open, then curiously asked…. “Were do they sleep?”. Ben’s mother explained, it was called a single end, this family of 11 people, adults and children, lived there, as best they can.

Later... Ben knew many families, forced, by circumstances, into the same type of accommodation. Per Chance… a valuable lesson learnt

Per chance, there was dark bits after school, when Ben, had to wait up to an hour outside the close, for his brother John, coming back from University. Occasionally, strange sweaty men would ask stuff and show things, but Ben came accustomed to body swerve them. Ben believes it didn’t affect him much… or hope’s not?

With the little bit of common-sense Ben managed to muster, he’s not as gallus as before in his childhood, and youth. The bottle has not gone, or indeed empty, however it seldom removes its cork. The older Ben becomes, he sometimes just takes a peek of a wish, not to grow one day older, with the real chance looming, of losing his most precious love he has toda
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peter.howden
post 22nd Mar 2019, 12:56pm
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Little old lady

The elderly lady shuffles along the bumpy uneven pavement, heading for the traffic-lights on the busy road. She is in a rush for the shops, badly needing messages, and not to forget slice beef sausage, as Harry loves a bit of sausage, and bacon. Corn Dobbie for herself, makes a rare sandwich in the middle of the night, when she cannot sleep for worry. She thinks to herself, she’s being so silly, for Harry will keep her safe.

Reminding herself having no time for this foolery, for she had better get her skates on, hoping she doesn’t meet Mrs MacBride, a terrible chinwag, who bad mouths everybody and everything. The little auld lady, with keen eyes for her age, glances to and fro, steadily heading for her goal, the Zebra Crossing. All the time, nervously keeking behind her, relieved she is not being followed. She knows her Harry will call her daft when she gets back home. Once the key is secured behind the mortise locked door then both of them will be all right…. snug as bugs on a rug.

A wee laddie was at the crossing as she stops her four wheeled trolley from rolling any further, giving her time to gather her breath. He gave her a smile as she earnestly thought ‘he does not look like one of those hoodlums, who broke into our house, when I was out last week’. ‘Lucky, Harry was with me, or he might have been hurt, or worse, thrown out into the street’.

The place was in a real stooshie, the manky middens, even peed on the coffee table, really scunnered me…but I promised Harry, they’ll naw catch me napping this time’. I’ve bought a double drop mortise lock, paid a real joiner put it in. I said to Harry, ‘you can’t put a price on safety’.

The lights change, leaving the wee lad standing, the old lady darts across at some speed, like a hurricane, quick as a flash, she is inside the nyaff supermarket. She would much prefer to shop in the wee shops, however; the high street is full of sad empty premises. The family butcher, who Harry likes his sausages from, is gone somewhere, but not local. She scoots around the shelves, hardly looking at the well-publicized bargains, tempting the sodie-heid shoppers.

Racing through the till section, then marches, almost runs along the well-worn street heading for her home. She worries if she was right to leave Harry alone, in the flat, however the chippie said the door was like fort Knox …. Guaranteed. ‘I hope he’s right’ she thought entering the close…. her heart was thumping ten to a penny.

To her relief, the front door was intact, enters the home, calling on Harry, just to let him know she is out of harm's way. Locking the double- drop, and starts packing her messages away, then makes the tea. With her favourite slippers on, she sits down next to where Harry is, and relaxes. ‘Told you handsome, I’d be back in two handshakes and a jiffy, and so I am!’. With a twinkle in her eye, a warm tender smile, she carefully picks up, from the new coffee table……………a photo of her darling late Harry.
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