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peter.howden
An old but new medieval tale (part 7) the uncomfortable end

What is time... when in a state of no reason to portray past, present, or illusion of such a dimension as a future, when there’s nothing but a black gorge stretching further than no distance at all, for there is nothing to see or gauge from. Sanity does not come into the equations whatsoever because I was now just a thing...a blob devoid of everything other than unemotional nonexistence The horror is not being in utter bleakness... but knowing your there.

Entirely frozen, colder than a icebergs covered in constant snow. Misapprehensions surrounded by unmovable solid geysers deep in the Antarctic where no human has left a foot print because instant sub-zero will not allow it to be so. A period of non-measurable ceaseless followed minus light or clue but a feeling it was not endless obscurity

Abruptly out of this very depth came a distant vague deduction...something just out of reach of my inflexible fingers.. How long it took to become semi-conscious I have no idea, but I knew my senses where questionable as previous creeping pictures passed randomly. Now in reasonable focus, unexpected dread returned with witnessing the return of the roots , gradually creakingly tightening their grip around my legs, while other types of undergrowth of various lengths tied up my arms, distorting my face with the friction of movement, causing bleeding while cutting deep into my flesh.

Just as it may be assumed there may be a chance this is a hallucination coming from a misty apparition of a unforgivingly long passageway...the again its truth prevailing because I could have sworn a flicker of light came some way off. Responsiveness was climbing on board to my now startling thoughts. Danger was pushed aside for the longing and need for knowledge of what had become of me, discarding any jeopardy before ‘IT’ became involved...whatever “IT” was; became. Monstrous fleeting judgements at random scurried at reckless speed to invade my dull almost lifeless mind. They were not roots or branches but clutching demons attempting desperately to smother me.

It was still dark but much closer to the light as I took a look around...I now knew I was there. Closing my eyes, then opening wide to witness crumbled figures and parts of physiques in a state of decay and greyness, from poor dense shapes. Huddled in indescribable squalor and trampled in muck. They could not be tagged as human bodies but I knew they had been.



A constant push forward from behind hidden forces brought me ever so close to a craggy door. I admit trampling on some forms of beings, dismembered hands and arms...still attempted to harm me anyway they could but by now I was capable in fending them off. By now I was just an arm’s span away from this ill made feeble wooden door...suddenly I recognized I knew that door. It was the same one which locked my prison the very first consciousness of my ordeal …but from the other side.

A single light shone through the cracks of the entrance but the mass of bodies illuminated it as a glint. I clung frantically to its frail frame by my fingernails and put my eye up to the largest fracture and stared. There was a man looking at a mirror then placed it so to see his reflection. The fellow was straight in front of me and I could see the replication image. The man was shocked...and I was struck numb.

It was ugly, so ugly it was far away from description but it was fascinatingly drawing me not only to look but take every edge, every article of this most curious horrible vision. The face I could see reflecting as all tortured and disfigured………… was mine. Just then the savage angry person flung the mirror away. ……..and that was the last thing I saw.

The mass behind me was colossally strong pushing forward...snapping my fingers, one after the other...and my being was forced forward into total darkness ….and beyond.
-=-=-=-=-=-=
peter.howden
My Almanac 30/05/2015

Earlier on, well after the bewitching hour of midnight, isolated in the stillness, I was contemplating my navel, or anything else, unable to sleep and not knowing why....apart from an allusion of ‘Déjà Vu’. Is it due to the mixed emotion of enthusiasm and trepidation unknown while preparing for a holiday...or just a trivia excuse because the eyes refuse to close properly to encourage sleep? While in France for the next two weeks, will I have foreign thoughts...I doubt it. Still the quietness of the night beckons state of grace allowing the drifting mind to slip into memories of peoples and deeds.

The past is a magic carpet jaunt of patterns, jaggy thoughts and remembrances; Good and bad...but mainly good which points to one hell of a bundle of luck. Each individual on this planet has a similar journey, filled with paths, which if you had the choice, you would do a detour, or go back to yesterday, no matter how golden or cushy existence they appear to have. The conclusions of life changes as to the attitude taken and making the best of the cards you are dealt with. Some say morals in life are black and white... up till now I prefer having a rational mind prism, to see and act with colours.

The need to assess my life, and hopes for the future, automatically spring from a relatively inactive mind...with surprises conclusions. ‘She who must be obeyed’ is not the reason why I live or breathe....but she is the main reason why I want to live.... It’s not the big gifts or gatherings with loads of hullabaloo...but just a glance, or a smile across a busy scene or unpredictably hand of comfort, reaching out unseen which is the bonding agent...no matter what age.

Will I need my woman while partaking on my voyage ...yes.... in certain ways, however I do not need to think but I can see her face...anywhere......is it my life’s bonus......I would loathe to miss it.....
peter.howden
Holiday Over...............

Mr Swan...Market gardener Extraordinary(1)

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 Mr Universe, but immensely strong of wirily stature, plus owning a red beard to shame Rob Roy. He could run faster backwards than I could full pelt forward. There was a kindness about him that is rare and comforting. Mr Swan was the one who introduced me to the fact there was more than one type of girl and defiantly more types of complicated men.

His pipe blow 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, with sublime distinctive aromas, was opium to my breathing senses which I can still muster today, right now... at the twitch of my nose ....a scent I regularly hunger 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 told of his crossing over to the vastness of Canada on five separate occasions, always by boat, whilst his first trip over to Chicago, holding the commonwealth games that very year. 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, on track for Great Britain. He apparently beat him most times and as Mr Swan said, it was probably because the poor lad did not have his sea legs yet. He was no bragger as he related his findings while working planting or pruning something within his market garden.


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 was 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 he always said travelling and abroad... was the making of the man.
peter.howden
Mr Swan...Market gardener Extraordinary(2)

At the time when I was associated with Mr Swan, he was engaged as a market gardener; groundkeeper, all round worker come anything, for the old Glasgow cooperation’s ‘Clydenuek House’... and grounds between the ‘Clyde’, Greyfiers Rd, leading up to the old bridge over the river. I spent hours, of sublime moments, during the long summer months

He had been instructed to employ workmen and an architect, along with a bridge building firm, to erect a bridge over a stream that ran into the river Clyde. It proved to a hell of expensive exercise to do it in that way... so he just did all the drawings and models himself ,then organized it with a couple of mates high up in Ravenscraig to make up sections and he began to lay foundations himself. The whole episode took seven weeks and at a fraction of the cost....

Mr Swan cultivated me to....Set your own challenges ...not your neighbours, or societies or the world..........Dance to my own tune.

He also taught me how to play open bowls, and fly an arrow, with demonstration how to shoot a gun in safety, even let me 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 cannot convince yourself that there is no other way, then don’t do it.

The driveway was pebble mixture of golden brown and pearl of white. The garden consisted of flowers I could not pronounce or remember and three large greens so soft to walk on. While 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 had a saying; quote... if you can get through life without deliberately hurting someone else, then you’ll do all right. But have your work cut out complying.
peter.howden
3..... 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 I knew of it, but being in Mr Swan’s home was something else. It was a massive mansion with castle like features, Scottish gargoyles outside, and overshadowing large mason stone walls best suited for medieval building of strong holds. The front door was solid wood, so much so, I could not close it by myself...and the deep-rooted locks, I thought were gold but turned out to be well polished brass.

Inside this wonderland were some twenty odd rooms with a refrigerator bigger than my sister’s living room and her kitchen combined. I, alone, 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 enlarged with an even larger magnified glass, situated precisely 2foot 3 inches away from the screen. Sitting at the other end of the 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 while Mr and Mrs Swan stayed there a few nights a week for they preferred the small quarters at the stables across the way...and at the time I could not understand the logic....but now I do. We would play bowls on one of the the open lawn’s, along with a local scrap merchant who lived nearby, with homemade lemonade for me and slight refreshment for the gentlemen. A tad more was for the winner. The call of a wood pigeon today will take me back to those light floating times.


In private moments, he taught me how to look at nature, to wonder in its complicated simplicity. My life, if not moulded, guided in the way to take stock, believed where we are in the spectrum of things. Strangely.... only now looking back, I realize, Mr Swan gave me a goal of a blueprint, a code to attempt to follow sub-consciously... though I often fail due to my own making.

My magical mystery tours with Mr/Mrs Swan lasted for two summers, for my sister Sheila moved on and my life began to grow up, or so I believed at the time. On revisiting the place we now can’t see the mansion or the gardens for that matter, so memory lane is my only transport. Adult influence coupled with the splendour of the manor, gave me so much fascination at a time in my life were it was most needed.

Disappointingly, I do not know what happened to the Swans, though it is certain they are no longer alive, as Mr Swan must have been seventy nine... if not a day... while the baker supreme ,Mrs Swan, will always be young.

I hope they both rest in peace.
peter.howden
Holiday retreat

Having been back for a whole week from holiday in the south of France region, you would have imagined I could have managed some sort of report from my travels. Although I may be a tad neglectful ... hitherto this was not as simple as it may seem... yet I wish not to blame anything other than my bad organizing of my private life blending into my on-going commitments sometimes beyond my control. In other words time galloped by before I knew it

It has been said, there are words in our common language, abused and overused from their original meanings with a couple certainly more so than most, such as ‘Nice’...’Beautiful’......nevertheless sometimes these are the only words to fit the bill at that precise moment and moments henceforth. While in both Paris and Saissac those two words popped up regularly in my mind. It would be nice if I managed to converse in French to a greater extent than I have managed to grasps from all of my visits. This slight handicap seldom stops me gleefully receiving the warmth from the people I met on my excursions, but I would reap a great deal more in both conversation, and reading signs, messages and listening to the French television, although on sight alone of the programmes on the telly....this may be doubtful.

In my mind, Paris, gay or otherwise, has a unique position in Europe, with inherent wonder and beauty stakes, due to known history and the enticing locations around the left/right banks of the winding river Seine, complete with mystery and liveliness of ‘lived in’ Metro and main railway stations, both far more than just transport. It could simple be, because of my ignorance of language....I enhance what I see. All I truly know, I have yet to be disappointed with my stay in the French capital and been constantly in awe of its history and beauty, rugged and ostentatious. Away from the usual suspects of tourist attraction.... it never fails to weave me under its spell.

There is something comfortingly “Nice” about whipping out my trusty 10 year old French “phrase/dictionary” pocket size book, taking yet another daring spree of discovering what the plaque is conveying... or simply where I am in France’s main Metropolis. By the end of my capital visit I am exhausted with my version of sightseeing efforts and head for what has become a personal Utopia oasis.

Saissac has rustic beauty almost at every turn into Rues, Avenue or corner of this medieval castle/chapel hamlet, but particularly the promenade ...for this is where the home of my hosts is situated, sharing a grand view of across France to the Pyrenees (the site where the end of the world was to take place a couple of years ago). Looking from my given bedroom window, the view is partly blocked by a splendid tree, growing in the next door’s garden, which just begs to be just stared at, for long extended periods, cultivating in phenomenon appreciation.

Apart from doing my washing gratis free, there is an abundance of intriguing company from all walks of life....stretched out lunches and evening meals...alfresco...washed down with lashings of beer or larger...whatever takes my fancy...... The conversation may be mostly whimsical but with dashes of serious subjects, strongly debated with the head of the house leading the assault... what more could a Scot desire having a scouser china quip; “Go 'ed, is right, nice one, boss, well in, sound, belter, made up”?..

Taking regular casual saunters around the well kent district, though nothing strenuous, leaving plenty of time to recoup my now old bones. So quickly the holiday is forced to an end....

No matter how wonderful, just how beautiful, and nice the trip has been, it is a grand comfort being a Glaswegian...travelling home to the fairest green place...to your own folk...your own bed...oh how I missed “She who must be obeyed”.

More to come
peter.howden
Blind Date;

She was the most exquisite alluring woman he had ever met in his entire life. In fact...he thought such obvious goddess comparable serenity only existed in old sagas, or fairy tales, with each word for the imagination to be used, or romantic stories in the film industry. He could not believe an ordinary bloke like him, that he had sole privilege of talking with her, for hours on end while gazing on her obvious charms, and tonight’s date……… he would be her only companion, with no distractions, and as far as he was concerned...it was unadulterated ecstasy over the moon.

They met at social party where they were casually introduced. It was not apparent she was totally blind, for she carried such self-assurance in her every movement, with her stylish glasses gave no hint of what lay behind her graceful facial features... yet.... she also possessed a teasing girlish characteristic which enticed his rather ordinary dullish senses.

Under these circumstances, the final destination for the evening was a strange selection chosen for he had asked where she would like to go as the dined at his favourite bistro. She asked with near amiable insistence, to be taken to observer the classic Charlie Chaplin’s ‘City Lights’ at the Glasgow Film Theatre. She must have sensed his surprise as she softly explained how people must place forward true confidence in trusting their basic instincts, and forcefully appreciate a silent film. To cast away the trivia and grip the sheer power of the innocent deception.

She serenely hinted, to do this properly and sincerely he would blindfold himself into total unaccustomed blackness throughout the whole proceedings and witness the inner person vitalized above the normal scope. It was a revelation to him though there were no words vocally he could have any chance of explaining the following experience he nurtured through the whole screening of this classic film.

It blew his primitive logical mind away entirely...while entering a new dimension he did not know existed. Each silent noise produced percussion his ears had never heard, each moment took him mentally into the picture with each movement of the characters materializing straight in his very soul, completing its hidden thesis.

He could not help rave about the experience as they walked through the foyer heading into the coal black night. The Madonna lookalike asked him if he would accompany her home and perhaps come in for a short nightcap as it was a chilly night. They walked; they talked of what such a magical understanding he had witnessed and that he wished this insight would stay. Secretly his attentions were with what seductive delights he would experience with such a temptress creature in the private darkness of her boudoir. The soft singing voice of supernatural enchantment blinded him all the way to her destination.

He could hear her move from the bed sheets which strangely held a musty smell and a cold wet texture was certainly about as he tried to open his eyes. No matter how he tried they just would not open his eyes for darkness was all he could grasp. His hazed memory slightly recalled having some Brandy out of a massive glass as the girl taunting him to finish it all in one go, then his mind is numb.
He felt her had led him to another room and sit on what felt like a soft easy chair as far as his weary head could tell, there was not a glimpse of light from anywhere.

Far away from the soft alluring siren goddess, daughter of the Greek Achelous deity calling the night before a more chosen austere power of speech took hold of his understanding.

‘Please do not fret, however, I have removed your entire ability of sight by the very modern technical laser, which is painless...or so I’m lead to believe’, she stopped, for a couple of seconds, presuming waiting for a reaction. But none came because he was in complete immovable horror shock. You are one of the first lucky ones as not all that long ago it was with a red hot iron, I always store for this very purpose in case of unpredictable power-cuts.’

He had this crazy idea there were others in this large chamber though not a speckle of noise came apart from her tone which was ridged, void of any emotion whatsoever as she added finally. ‘I will close the door now and there are plenty of others to keep you company until my next opportunity?’
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
peter.howden
A Scottish Lady.

In Glasgow, there are certain types of women, who are deemed to be unkindly wee biddie Glaswegian’s, also renowned for being a nippy sweetie’s...yet hiding a heart of gold. They stand out from other ladies of this dear green place, who ‘swirl round the mouth ‘wi'’ an English dishcloth’ from Kelvinside ‘Wallie close’ manner. Now and again, through necessities in the early 80s, both primsie nosed and ‘Gabbie Hens’ uncomfortably meet in the new Glasgow council laundrettes which were the replacements of the old beloved steamie’s.

Once in a blue moon, a special character stood out from the usual frantically hurrying attitude almost all who used the facilities of the laundry, and in this instance was the Scottish lady. The image of such a lady projected in reality, between ‘Janet’ in the old television series of ‘Doctor Findlay’ and ‘Mrs. Culfeathers’ from the renowned Scottish play. Her mode of dress all the times she came to the Pollokshaws experience was an old fashioned pinnie and a scarf covering her grey hair. She talked in lovely lullaby diction.

She used the facilities regularly three days a week and from first thing in the morning right on the dot of opening time, came in and out attending four separate washings. Her actual name was not known by the attendant or by the regulars who were too busy in their own titty-tattle to be bothered by an old lady. Over time it was realized, through polite conversation by a third party, it was due to her taking washing in for some snotty ladies around the new dirty linen amenities but were to snooty to attend in person....who paid her a pittance...I would warrant. Each day she arrived at the premises, she seldom left until somewhere late of the evening clock after washing drying and ironing and delivering for such persons, by means of an old Churchill pram

Each week, each month, each season that past by her tired appearance became more obvious which cause certain concern for the few who took time to care. In a rare frank conversation with a third party, she revealed the reason for her exhausting toil...a labour of love. Each time she mentions his name her eyes lit up and a beaming smile crossed her tired mouth. The singular name which changed her persona, as quick as a blink, was Robert....her son.

She spoke lovely Scottish English when the subject was her boy... and how he was studying for the last 7 years to qualify to become unrighteous... up and coming first class lawyer. He lived in a fancy house, close to the baths complex...but a bit further from her room and kitchen in the oldest run down part of the district. Her last word on the subject was... “It’s worth all the labour under heaven”, then she returned to the task at hand.

Although the third party was not employed in the laundry, he did have occupation in the sports complex...under the same roof where he went to collect and fold towels...this was how he came in touch with this special Scottish Lady.... His duties were to lock up the whole complex around ten of the evening’s clock, after all affairs where done.

He did not have the heart to inform such a devoted mother.... that her son never attended college or indeed university, for legal studies....or any other studies...and each evening around 22.00 hours...when the old lady, whose dignity was beyond question, did not attend others washings...he rolled and stoatered out the pub across the road from the laundry....probably after drinking from the monies the lady toiled so desperately hard to earn

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
peter.howden

Peewee’s explication

While on holiday alone...so memorized by the stars shining through the black velvet of a French night reminded me the whole human race are all under the same sky. My thoughts turned to wander through the passage of time and recalled a surprised meeting with the famous Glasgow Peewee, the magical pigeon who’s sworn purpose was to watch and advise every Lord Provost of Glasgow since Richard de Dunidovis...and no less a person than, William the Lyon before him. Peewee presided at the ‘Auld Alliance’ and later strongly advised, the patriotic John Stewart, of Minto, not to banner at ‘Brainston Moor’...but heed he not, losing his life in the fatal fray at Flodden.

I had the honour of being able not only to see him but to communicate as well, usually after having a few “waters of life” in one of the many hostelries in Saltcoats and while I rested in a secluded spot, by the seashore along the dunes, before the final effort of homeward bound.

Under the French evening I recalled his explanation why the stars shine so bright constantly...and why some twinkle.

Peewee; began his lecture in soft amplification.... they come down from around all the universe, in organized turns and times, to bath themselves in the waters of the world, for if they all rushed untimely... night would be in utter unbearable darkness ... as it has on several uncontrollably panic occasions throughout existence itself, frightening all the animals including humans.

The stars twinkling so beautifully, are the ones who skimmed the sea and have gathered unwanted salt over them making the blink...and flicker...and wink.......the constant shining stars have washed in rivers and springs and lakes of the world but prefer Scottish lochs, which they will patiently cue for a dip... is why Scottish waters are so fresh and taste sweet heavenly nectar.

His lecture strayed onto one of his favourite subject steeped in the past order of things mysteries of life beyond human ken. Peewee emphasised how only a chosen few who have the knowledge and understanding to envision the nay impossible...will witness all beyond logic...he continued
If you are lucky you can catch a glimpse of such action as the late stars leave the waters of the spinning globe and the fairies magically and playfully capture the dazzling energy into invisible peapods...then gracefully shiver along the lakes and streams and burns....and even in puddles, of all sizes, given birth from the earlier rain.

On the flowing rivers in the capitals of Europe but particularly on the Seine and of course...the home coming Clyde, whilst the sun is correctly positioned for humans to observe, indistinguishable fairies cupping their hands...then letting silvery droplets skate along in ripples animated by the sun...ancient peapods of brilliant silvery light escaping before the river darkens under its many bridges. The naughty furies (disobedient pixies) try to steal and plunder under the bridges of the Seine... and the Clyde.

Settling in a tranquil mood... I spent most of that night staring out of the bedroom window, in the middle of tempting France, fascinated with the stars above and the knowledge of many medieval pathways leading to the unseen domain or “Yomi-no-Kuni”... reached by certain trees, and one such tree was situated in the next mansion’s garden. Now content in the knowledge I knew such an amazing benefactor, in the shape of Peewee... protector of Glasgow ...but slightly wondering where...or more important... when our paths would cross again
peter.howden
My Almanac;3; )1/07/2015

Once in a while you may wish holidays and company could last forever but thankfully they don’t... or my cracks of inconsistencies’ would be available for all see

Returning home I now know for certain, deep inside, I have far more than an urge, or a yearning... but induced passion, almost habitual dependency to weave in and out the Scottish scenery at any turn, stare at such wonders, envisaging what the meaning of life is all about...and be happy to be utterly clueless on the subject

Taking Aunt Becky regular hurls is certainly not a grinding duty, especially around Strathblane and surrounding countryside’s and counties, lorded over by the ancient Kilpatrick hills, which make the precious humans so insignificant against such colossus. I am not knocking humans willie-nilly... but through their entire history, there is a tendency for being outrageously pompous, claiming every step of land, and sea, and air around the world, claiming ownership of all they can survey...a manmade myth. We are a mere speck in the era of things having no control over nature other than blowing in the wind.

This magical range turns into the Campsie’s “Fells” and all, not forgetting Kilsyth hills, plus Fintry. For Aunt Becky it is just all green and beautiful while she listens and stumps her feet to her favourite tangible Scottish music... complete with the adopted national anthem “Flower of Scotland” rivalled with “Roamin' In The Gloamin' for being her ultimate favourites..... Though she stamps her feet, in triumph to both and most of the others wheezing away from the speakers in my wee jalopy.

After a few weeks away, one of my first attentions is our garden. Labouring under the allusion I plant, grow and enjoy the proceeds of my toil, when in actual fact it is Mother Nature who is in complete control. However I realized I had forgotten to place a net over my tiny plot of strawberries. The few luscious red strawberry, left half pecked or eaten, had been invaded by the assortment of birds, which nest in our garden.


More important was tidying up with more mundane duties, such as clearing out stores and old compos heaps and storage bin. To my surprise it was obvious mice had stolen in through a crack at the side. All the bird feed and peanuts were scattered around in a smelly mice fashion. Moving and removing half chewed plastic bags brushing out all dribs and drabs wastage ready to wash down with Dettol disinfection lock, stock and barrel. Shifting my old tatty wellie-boots, a mouse shot off... like a bat out of hell... into the unknown undergrowth ...leaving me to discover inside one boot, the wee mouse had made a nest out of basket straw, and inside the nest appeared to be moving. Gently leaving it otherwise undisturbed .

Once finished the onslaught cleansing and repairing the crack, I washed down the new tubs and closed the store bin. In behind the brown bin, for garden waste, I placed both wellies away from wind and water, wrapped up in plastic with an opening gap for the comings and goings of a field mouse family. Thus I left “Mother Nature” to focus on such matters... much better than my puny interference.

We think this is our world... but we are just endured by the nature, whose power is beyond true understanding or command. Are we a tiny blip on an almost accidental spinning rock or are we conclusions of life?.....who knows

-=-=-=-=-=-=
peter.howden

AMERICAN SWINGS(1)


The year is in the early 50s; the place is Whifflet, it was the best of times... though like most times... I was more than a little bit mixed up. As a youngster, still growing up, I was extremely conscious of my defects compared to other adolescents’ standards, classified as handicapped, demonized as a spastic... more so by elders rather than the odd treatment handed out by other children, good and bad. More surprising, was my lack of understanding and remedy to suppress the actual truth. Tangible and imaginary hurdles appeared from nowhere to stumble over, which at the time, seemed unassailable constantly threatening my simple happiness, however soon discovering this was normal for any juvenile as the rest of the youngish delinquents had the equivalent infantile dilemmas... equally urgent.

I failed to realize every inexperienced prodigy staggers through this minefield of self-doubt and body malfunctions...forcing inward criticism of small problems and blemishes, to utter ridicule exaggeration. The way you perceived things, along with the reasons to overcome obvious and not so obvious problems, lies close to the path for near future endeavours...but stayed permanently within the mind.

Through my tender boyhood yonks, my mother worked as a ranked civil servant, working at...I do not know exactly but based in Maryhill Military Barracks. Being a solid dependable woman, expected of the time, seldom showed any outward sign of affection, ether in kiss or hugs. I cannot recall being touch by her physically, except once...while I was having a nightmare. Now I know her story better, I can understand why. She looked on me as a duty and so she carried it out, as best she could. The summer holidays was always a problem, for her, with me being at school, 6 weeks or so recess coming along as they did yearly. This was solved by being shipped off to my sister’s Sheila’s (the Greys household) where ever it may be.

The year of the ‘American swings’ was Whifflet, the coal binges around Bellshill and that area, were magic, but I met Tom’s (brother in law) dark angry side because of playing in them. .he did not believe of sparing the rod or as sometimes proved, of using a rod. Looking back though, it must have been difficult for Sheila and Tom...for I was certainly no angel whilst I had the heartfelt angelic look.

The highlight of the Bellshill summer weeks, still stays with me, being given permission to stay up on a Saturday night to watch ‘Sergeant Bilko’, after sport programme of the day, around 10.30 of that evening. I stayed up, dressed in my pyjamas to view this American comedy which I still love today. As Phil Silvers line went “fun, fun, fun”.

So, when I was shipped out to the hamlet just south of Coatbridge, it was a new adventure that I had mixed feelings about. One local saying determined the difference between Motherwell and Coatbridge; Motherwell was famous for coal and steel, while Coatbridge was famed for steal’ in coal. The town was famous for the Olympic sized swimming pool it had, also had fine views and deep history of industrial railways and all that entails... but these details it all washed above my head.

Whifflet was my introduction to dykes to dreip... the middins to rake, and the best of all, the first tongue bud tasting of the original Dandelion and Burdock. Throughout the backs of Garturk St and Bute St lay in square formation with dividing walls of different structures along with outhouses once used as washing houses for the families abide.

From the not so far away past, these buildings and walls varied in height possibly 8 to 12 feet. To be accepted into the local gang... you had to do the corner leap. This was quite a jump for a bachle, not out of shorts yet or up to that time had not seen or known about backyard playing. The jump was from corner to corner of 45 degrees facing each other the problem was.... one was higher than the other, by a good foot and a half, even two feet. . The spring was from lower to higher, with only three steps run in but worse of all was everybody had to be there when you did this dare.

I had some sense to practice when no one was around and that meant sneaking out at seven in the morning. Late at night was out of the question as my brother in law was severe in the 9.00 of the night dead line. My balance was terrible, added with my born again side and the terror I held being so far up, wavering on a curved top of the wall. I landed on my bahookie more times than not until one day, while practicing alone, in the very early a.m.; I made such a dreadful leap.... but not far enough.
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[size="3"][/size]
peter.howden
American Swings (2) A Leap beyond

The moment I leaped into the space between leaving solid concrete into hope for triumph covering ultimate glory I realized I was soaring into misfortune. The furthest corner was way out of reach either by foot or hand, even when franticly trying to grab something. Downward my body fell completely out of control, though like countless times before tipped onto my right side. I landed with arms still stretched out trying desperately to grab anything, only to feel air, and my legs at a wearied angle, leaving my whole right side to take the main force of the craggy ground...covered in old fireside ashes. . . Winded and in enormous pain while I lay there unable to move for what seemed ages ticking away emphasising how it was more than my pride hurting. Eventually I clambered to my shaky feet, vowed never to do anything like that again. I was truly scunnered with the whole thing

Later on in the afternoon while all the local lads, along with some girls, were hanging around and I was way out on the outer ring, one lad came to show off. Gleaming with bravado pride, carrying what appeared to be a real cowboy six shooter. He informed the now surrounding crowd, his uncle brought it back from Hollywood, where he worked as an extra or scene mover or something, which some may envy with a lust passion, but being mere cinema going ordinary boys.... it was just out of this world.

I have forgotten his name but he handed around the big pistol to the keenly awaiting delinquent group, who showed their appreciation in the way they held it with precious delicately, and it was plain to see... I was not involved. Now in a fit of dreadful peek or selfish anger for my personal failure, which I believed no-one witnessed. I yelled out my intention to jump the ‘corner to corner’ dare, which caused a few giggles from two lads. What was unknown to me at the time, those a couple of the boys had seen my pitiful attempts walking the wall earlier and were gunning for a good laugh mockingly taking the piss?
.
Whatever came over me I had little control over my mind, for those few moments it took to ball out my intentions I was oblivious to the terror of the petrifying obstacle? What was clear was an inner force driving my uncommon bravado, Scuttling along the approaching wall in fair speed and surprising agility?...I lined myself up to the final approach where disaster happened that very morning, closed my eyes ran bursting with instant energy and jump into blind abyss.

Before I knew it, I landed safely over the opposite concrete roof with amazing margin to spare. I had jumped the jump. From this precise moment on I was one of the lads...firstly being presented with the sacred weapon and even allowed to draw and fire imaginary bullets from it. From then on I was accepted, and that’s what most people want to be. I was a member of the Garturk/Bute St gang, missed when I went away...bonded when I came back.

There was other bravery prove yourself test, although this was as a member now known as a dare devil...and not as an outsider.
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999
peter.howden
American Swings. The conclusion

Our gang was filled with a variety of brood’s, age wise, had one thing in common. During the everlasting summer...continuous “Dare” challenges. Simply we all dug deep to compete and introduce a desperate taunt. One morning the ultimate trial was thrown into the arena....to explore the unknown depths of the abandoned mine shaft, believed to be haunted by rats and the like, under the main Whifflet |St. it was rumoured, or told, some kids last year were never seen again... never reached the other end, gauged to be at the incredible American swings.

This creepy tunnel ran underground, from Bute St all the way to behind Hospital St... And the so called American Swings. The reason for playgrounds to have such a name escapes grown-up logic, although quite a few swings and roundabout areas were so called, in Glasgow and surrounding rural populated districts. Whifflet American swings were brightly painted, so maybe this is the reason as most things in the 50s were drab and formal, and painted dark green or brown at best. Another theory is it had a special type of apparatus, close to “A Dundee Swing”, but operated on a maypole fashion.

Having been instructed by Brother-in-law Tom, at the start on my holiday stay, the upper other side of the main Whifflet Street was strictly out of bounds to me, so this test was right up my street. I accepted the challenge without thinking though I was not the first to enter however just after a minute or two, Garry racing out the entrance, face pure dead white.... hollered...’No bloomin way’ I was not the first to go through that dark entrance alone however with two of the other lads,(one boy was called Richard and he became a priest, so good training) and it was, by god, terrifying but as a group we skulked through.

Crawling down deeper than expected, holding my torch it is hard to tell the actual distance of this constructed subway, but it was black murky, dripping constant cascading noisily, massive holed pathway, stony obstacles with boulders thrown in. Being about three boys wide with massive water covered area in the middle. The main danger was the reputed rats living down there awaiting the unexpected explorer. The numbers were unknown, although there was defiantly, a dark grey one bigger than it should be and when cornered, rats bite, for every boy knew this as fact. The challenged individual had to take off his Socks, shoes or sannies, wade knee deep through manky water running to god knows where.

Reaching my destination it took our eyes sometime to recover. Once adapted to sunlight again, I scrounged around for what I could dry myself with. Stupidly tried grass which left me tainted frog legs for several weeks even with Sheila scrubbing with a stair brush, in a frantic effort to save my skin. Tom gave me a thick ear, and a sore bum for my troubles.

Belonging to the gang, enabled me to be involved in all what they did including, how long could you go your bike with eyes closed. The main problem was.... attempting this hair scary cycle when on the A8, the main Glasgow to Edinburgh rd. The thought was we would hear the whoosh of the traffic and steer clear and the wind thermos caused by the heavy freight movers would keep us in the safe airstream.... acting like a buffer.

It did not work that way...for my wheels became grooved in the tram lines we nearly got killed.... but we were being nearly killed together as pals, making the real difference. The calculation of danger was practically non-existent..

This may seem really ludicrous behaviour, even for the young and untested, but compared to the next taunt...it wasn’t.... for I stupidly consented on a rainy day to take part in “Dare...Promise...or kiss”...decided by a mawkit milk bottle from the midden. Girls where included and I was dared to kiss a girl...on the lips, whose Christian name is blurry, but her surname was “Archibald”. I only consented to do so If they put a box over our heads while the act was being performed........and even then....I chickened out..........kissing her on the cheek.
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peter.howden
Shaky Steps

It was no use, no matter what she would have to do and force herself to step closer to her goal, even though they were crying out trying to hit a nerve...to contact and make her stay still, for her own safety. They had not caused this dilemma but were the instigators of mortal agony and she knew they had started the whole sordid walk through close torment beyond belief ...this was fact.


She had no cause to be in this terrifying situation, for the remedy lay safe and sound with her...but she was too proud to admit her failings. She could have been sharing the bosom of her friends, laughing light-heartedly beside the hosiery’s blazing fire, soothingly sipping of ‘the water of life’ as it moisturised her lips, but her stubborn pride and a sharp word, or two from her lover... force her into the bitter cold clear night... through old cobbled stoned pathways close to the midnight bewitching hour... if you believe such things.

Her whole attire, but mainly the flimsy dress, was for the wee small hours ball organized by the ‘crème de crème’ of society, located the seaside town...now echoes of the dim spectral streets were her undesirable companions. Her mouth was dry, her hands trembled and her ankles of hard skin took its toll for wearing stiletto heels. The biting night was not the only chilling her skin, her muscles her slow flowing blood... but freezing her very soul.

She was alone and frightened being the dead of night, walking distressingly through unfamiliar nameless deserted streets... shadows lurking then bounding... while dark forbidding things appearing at the blink of an eye ...disappearing at the hint of a glimpse from her frightened eyes as slightest sound ceased the instance she turned to look in the direction any noise came from which reached her ears.

Each step was terrifying agony; each corner was filled with dreaded expectations .

No mouth ,no tale of utter endurance ,no syllables or collection of words could express or explain the ultimate anguish suffered other than.... she forgot to keep her appointment with the chiropodist that very morning... and her feet...they were killing her.
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peter.howden
Incalculable

As far as he could fathom, through the passage of time, closely related to every belief or faith, has some form of, carrot or stick approach for virtuous reward or agonizing punishment for having faith or rejecting the call. Heaven was always some sort of paradise as far as the mind was concerned and the hellish place termed hell had not yet been reliably explained as no person or soul had returned from either.

Constantly feverishly reading all types of history, literature, he hoped to consume knowledge but coming to the conclusion Socrates was correct; ‘The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing’, although Shakespeare’s death is a long sleep, while J.M Barrie’s, reputed to quote ‘Death is an awful big adventure’. He felt safe that death was all conciseness terminating.

As the years past as they must do, demise, with no special request, became intimate as the last breath was on count down. An unknown period past without recognition or recall till finally he had the nous of some sort of occurrence. Total emptiness was abundant yet a hint of a thud...no a beat was somewhere while nowhere. This sense was not by eyesight or mind but telepathy ...not of his making.

The thud became a rumble then an irritating persistent sound. For some reason or other the louder it became, apparently annoyed him outside any conception. Electric charges darted, ‘thither in thither’ slowly picking up speed. What was just nonsense became clearer into section somehow his awareness gradually understood. The absolute horror abruptly became a reality... to discover his consciousness...as he spun around in nothingness ....neither alive or dead

Within his abyss, became louder and louder beyond sanity with no moments of rest, no breathing space...was the constant recall every corrupt vicious deed, each immoral action against his fellow man or woman, every single cross word, every broken oath given, every hypocritical motion ever uttered from his lips...now unceasingly broadcasted in an inescapable void...every word said in anger is now each person’s private hell for eternity...and a step further

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peter.howden



My Almanac;3;21/07/2015

A surprise visit on Jim Hendry at his local in Ayr late Saturday night before last bells was on the cards however, early that afternoon I left the privacy of my tavern/hotel to keep a personal staunch promise of walking to “Heads of Ayr” from the central of Ayr fair town. This pledge was made some time ago, vowing in the near future to do just that.... but now it has come and gone...and with it.... one failed attempt to stride the scenic miles.

My comrade Jim Hendry, unaware I was in town, had no influence on my endeavour which I abandoned minus pluck. The climate was dreich, chilling to the marrow, tedious rain soaked and scunnered all at the same time. Godforsaken meteorological conditions influencing the promenade to be almost completely absent of peoples.... other than windswept die hardy.

This stark view leads to a personal conclusion, this once rightly proud holiday destination is struggling at best, although the hard working welcoming community herald how busy it is on ‘Race’ days, but then again appears almost impossible for shop owners, who gear themselves for wandering holiday day visiting trade, to make a viable living as all I witnessed was empty shops with keen operators trying to look busy and attractive.

As for my clandestine visit to the Anchor tavern, allowing the home grown cheerful ‘Del Shannon’ twanging majestically, to sings his lungs out for two hours or more, it was a travel into the past based mainly around late 50s, early 60s. The company was rosy ...proving the locals are joyfully bunch with a bundle of laughs.... along with china Jim, rare comfortable in his element.

Time and hours have come and gone so swiftly leaving today yesterday being we know it. For the past ten days or so, time once again is the spell bandit but unable to steal a couple of most welcome moments taking place during regular showers, drizzly rain, typical weather leading up to the Glasga fair. Some unexpected intervals.... nay... couple of jiffies of pure dead brilliant sunshine as the clouds play hide and seek, proving this is in fact...is July’s holiday interval. The warmth of the sun melted my stubborn laziness into leisurely good intentions of much needed fences repair, cutting grass, painting trough and plant boxes, and scour weeds, deadheading roses and clip bushes way back.

Warm air carelessly weaves thru the intervals of toil, wafts carrying pleasurable sounds of the local children frolics and laughter playing ball or statues wavers. There is something unique in the sound of impish yelps and squawks creating dare and double dares in adventurous games, of mind and body. This tugs is a inner cosy glow of fond memories from many years back, for older peoples such as I, reaching where other emotions can’t reach... fresh raw happiness.....Probably the best memories in the world.

Our futile expectations of wishing for constant sunny weather akin to holidays spent in foreign resorts in Spain and Portugal or near and close down the French Rivera coastline, are not only alien to our climate but would certainly set unbelievable problems for the residents of this fair city of |Glasgow and Scotland. The rain certainly helps things to grow with amazing speed and is the fundamental reason why Glasgow is known as “Dear green place”.... without being marooned...by the author
wellfield
Well done!!!!!!!!!
peter.howden
Very kind indeed “Willfield” I appreciate your comment
peter.howden
Keep Fit

In today’s money world, millions even tens of billions worldwide is spent on creating fitness embodied... coupled with parse beautiful bodies. The newish mecca for keep fit fanatics or the ‘In crowd’ to be seen attending, ‘The Gym’ or the physical...and mental torture departments ... in more ways than one.

If you happen to be a reputed natural Adonis, then it’s a free ride with just a few press-ups to ensure the body is in the pink, but to ask a body to start from scratch...then its murder trying to obtain suitability and be judged by the treadmill squad. The ‘In crowd’ expect the unprofessional participant to run through the constant pain barrier without raising blood pressure or not much to matter and still not out of breathe....opening pickle jars with the twist of a wrist, either one, even when simpler things, brings you out in a heat rash and the like.

Unemployed Stan has for some time being contemplating all these things and many more, trying to persuade himself he should exercise both his body, but especially his mind, because wee Stan knew he just about hung together in both these areas. His intellect is simply his phone, letting his fingers do the walking, text the internet... his vehicle of knowledge and purchase, along with most of the population.

Stan’s bedroom is his sanctuary, his phone is not his lifeline but his life and he has no money for ‘The gym’ and no wanting for exercise, due to apathy. Our history tells us of ‘the unemployment way’ is above necessity and a drain on mainstream capital and resources....except for those who capitalize on the masses misery. The unemployed are classed as ‘Them’. Most jobless people do not go to ‘The gym’.... they were walking everywhere to find occupation...any employment. They were not fit; they were too busy endeavouring to survive while near starving beyond endurance.

Now he is categorized as being long time unemployable, some may blame Stan but it’s not really only his fault, prostration under peers pressure but being under hidden manipulation to squeeze every penny from the poor’s pocket, by passive aggressively...making him a social dependency.... legal to print their own money, those nice and thoughtful top companies such as Provident Cheques...and the banks ilk .

Right from the beginning of so called civilization, it’s been wars, combat, gambling, religion, Gin, cocaine, booze, sex ... the poor bearing the cost and now technology brings all this and more , secretly into Stan’s home to brainwash him in unawareness.

Stan now exhausted all avenues without the hint of success has no reason to walk so he stays put. Each decade make excuses or complain, depending if old or up and coming and although the reasons appear to change...the basics remain firmly in place...the multitude carry the few
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peter.howden
Barred;

Dean witnessed first-hand there are no bars on the window, no turnkey at the door to the kitchen, no hard rules to follow but there might just as well be. The occupant of the small maisonette is an Ex-convict, or seasonal criminal, who in any session will steal or rob for gain or just because he can which has led to him being lock up in numerous occasions for his trouble. He is not only deemed by the authorities to be institutionalized...although he is mentally in jail....

Inside the many jails Dean has had accommodation; he had little preference except a loathing for Peterhead, which now has been closed, for in the old days is where all the nonse’s (Paedophiles and child molesters) are made trustees. In Dean’s opinion and many of the main stream prisoners, they would turn anybody’s stomach...yet the authorities, in their fashioned wisdom; stuck most of them together, in that nick …..Supposedly for their own safety…. but Dean knew it was to prevent ‘Winda warriors’ (prisoners who shout from windows) passing information to the outside world or bank against prison riots.

Screws were roughly the same in most penitentiaries though some did have a evil twist Dean preferred a single ‘Peter’(cell) but would double up comfortably with some crony from the old time, where a square go just meant that... or with a chib...where snout was the currency all prisoners used not these phone cards.. Time plays funny tricks to the memory and more so when little is left to remember.

While inside, Dean was in no danger of learning a new crime, for he was too far gone down the line as an old lag preferring to be in his own company, reading a book with no ending as some sod had ripped out the last pages. Where he was in peril was by some soap slashing after lockdown, or a jammer from a young nuttier trying to stamp his authority. There is a class system inside and a heavy duty pecking order and one must know one’s place. This gives a sense of comforting security to the lifers, eight year stretcher’s; “A” fours (four years and under) which some uneducated person’s call ‘Bird’ but really marking and passing time to a jail calendar .

He was released, on licence, by the “get back to civilization” mob that had to be seen to believe they know what they were talking about. Dean passed with flying colours when he wasn’t really trying. He was asked where he would like to be housed and he plucked for where he landed for it was the easiest to spell. .Social workers and others were busy bending over backwards to succeed, they forgot what was best for the man inside………. but they had boxes to tick and quotas to perform and they were doing their best while hemmed in by procedure …..Under trying circumstances………and their hands are tied.

In Dean’s drum,(house) he had all the mod cons ... T/V and all within an all-purpose, newly painted room and a tiny kitchenette He had no past apart from jail, no memories to fall back on and no friends from the outside at night. Sleep was nigh impossible because of his insecurities and during the day; acts as an enigma while stoatering to and fro from wall to wall in his cramped strangely named living room...while time march on in his head as if banged up. But here there is no old lag to smirk with.... or lookout for thee Hench man of the block to avoid eye contact with while genuflecting before dare passing the alpha male. . No debt to pay for trafficked salmon (best tobacco) or inside genuflecting as the gaffer passed.



In his manufactured home; Dean felt and behaved like a wounded animal deprived of all we look on as cold and degenerate; but made him feel safe He tramps the same path in the so called living room, as if in his cell and uses the mirror not to make eye contact with who is passing per chance. He cannot sleep because the lack of noisy silence and the whiff of different flint-tins were ignited... or the urine odour which floated from landing to landing which no locked door could keep out. He seldom retreats out except to cash is dependency.



In prison he had a sense of belonging to a community within a community... an esteem autonomy of sorts ...a worth…………………………………………………… in Freedom.... he is a caged animal.

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peter.howden
Infinity minus one;

Somewhere in Scotland....in a dilapidated once proud building, there was a constant rubbing noise, a disturbing relentless scrapping sort of din...nearer chilling hum, right behind the thin protection of the shaking walls of unknown strength. A exposed group of startled, near panicking peoples huddled together due to space confinement rather than choice, forced to share intimate feisty responses and emotions usually hidden from any other soul. The pathetic group completely ignorant if human life existed elsewhere

The emergency battery lighting blinked sporadically as everything electronic was non operative. No contact could be made with the outside world, if there was such a thing left, as every computer, every phone, every apparatus or anything relying of vital internet satellite worldwide web...was now completely defunct. No satellite no man made contraption remained inoperative from that fatal period.

In a universal elapsed moment, an unpredicted gigantically powerful Steller flare-up “Super Nova’...fleetingly outshone the entire ‘Milky Way’ galaxy, radiating massively more energy as the actual Sun. This uncalculated collapse changed Earth’s rotation angle against the right handed rule of 23.5 degrees...to minus 1.34 degrees. Every 92 of the Earth’s elements instantly altered unceremonious as did the density of the once blue planet. The atmosphere just plunged.

With the moon completely off-balance, causing acceleration orbit and destroying earth’s tides and the so called atmosphere static without wind. Disseminated electric and atom tremors have turned the all-inclusive form of existence, every species of life on the entire planet, have become carnivores or blood sucking miniature vampires including; Parasites... Mosquitoes... Hornets...Black fly....Bees...wasps...Ticks...the list is endless throughout the world.

Within the crumpled building, the frightened penitentiary remaining occupants, huddle within the dark stale room. Lifesaving air condition bottled oxygen aeration, operated by battery, is lifelessly silent because they daren’t open the airborne vents leading from the crumpled structure...in fear what may enter....unwanted.. Clamours from outside constantly try penetrating the last defence off ill-practical walls shuddering under immense pressure...deemed to be flying swarms of killer midges.

Over the past alarming weeks, while contacts over the airwaves was possible, the dreaded news in Scotland of total inhalation of human population in every Clahan, Toon, City... by these flying doom carriers... then the airwaves croaked......Now in isolation they may be the last of the human race... with the paradox...barricaded in the premises of Glasgow University...once working on a serum to prevent midges biting indiscriminately.... ,

peter.howden
loose spell Midgies...
peter.howden
My Almanac;3;30/07/2015


I must apologies for my scribbles and my manual ...due to my inability to convey appropriate sentence structure, spelling and the likes while recording my thoughts and deeds or short stories....this is due to the excitement of creating and not for the annoyance of passing readers... I could claim being language impairments or some form of dyslexic but to spell out the truth... I’m just crap at English...

Last night was what a night... no Champagne bubbly, and a hot tub but a superb steamy bath, coupled with a mug of my favourite tea, along with the incredible Ray Charles. I do not have a unhealthy appetite to share a bath with a corpse but it is sheer dead brilliant lying back in the hot bubbles listening to this master of so many types of music and song. My attention to Ray focused on a train journey to’ Dunbar’ and my last B.B. camp 1960 listening on a portable record player, playing American recording of this cool vocalist, singing the captivating ‘I got a woman’ and the sheer dazzling “Georgia on my mind”.

This week luck gave me more than a kinky wink with a very kind gentleman presented me with some C/Ds of the Rolling Stones excellent concerts. With high pitched old fashioned earphones it takes just a distant mind's eye to be there among the ignited crowds giving me a rolling buzz for 10 days or more. Personally I have been stoned. with their music from way back in 63 while playing in Barrowland....having a distinct fragrance only bestowed on the ‘Barra’s’ and the world famous distinguished Ballroom along with its cute shuffle

There is a vast space between time and reality perception transporting into meaning with missing dimensions no matter how dark of invisible, but tantalizingly close on the blink of an eye. ‘You can’t always get what you want’ memories pour into my heart aching due to the date being of my daughter Toni’s sudden demise 6th august 2011... but my mind settled remembering that special night in 2006...Rolling Stones concert...Hamden Park we as a whole family stood for nearly the complete event, along with the mass of people singing our very hearts out especially at this song.......extended for the concert. I miss her...

My old jalopy is still tumbles rolling along the country roads taking Aunt Becky for a wee hurl around the base of our favourite Kilpatrick hills. Being 88 years old, slightly muffled minded, Aunt Becky is oblivious to the dangers while driving at speed, of shouting out constantly about some fellow on a bike or demanding ‘What’s that’ without any further information. To prevent this occurring or at least cutting it down, I play her kind of music which is country cowboy or Scottish auld songs. The Scottish auld standards are the best as she is to busy singing and stamping her feet especially to “Flower of Scotland” to bother with questions about the roadside. I sometimes wonder how the Rolling stones would deal with rendering “Scots Wha Hae”...an intriguing thought....
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peter.howden
Infinity Minus One....One More Step.

The stark dilemma with killer midges was melodramatically spelt out in horror realization of how pathetic their situation was... which lead most of the survivors, stranded within Glasgow University lab, near close to accepting their dire fate. The air within had developed into fowl tasting gulps of staleness, along with the humidity such circumstances cause. The huddled group now believed the ‘Ceratopogonidae’ midgies would succeed beyond measure, was overwhelming on the exhausted nigh defeated humans. Four concrete walls were all there was separating them from realizing the terrible truth being far beyond their innocent conception.

Strongly structure lab built due to the scientific experiments carried out in the name of universal knowledge, while their present position was way past logic or any Grimm fairy-tale. The clamour just outside was now an ear-spitting grind with the occasional physical trembling of the whole room spreading a nasty sweaty dread.

Somehow out of the gloomily trepidation came a spark of hope as one of the junior laboratory technician, involved in research and development in the main building of the complex, knew of a concealed emergency causeway.. an escape channel in case of unforetold catastrophic consequences....leading from the main lab...to this prison test site . Someone spoke out the instant logic, how at least there would be daylight somewhere in the assessment centre. Within second, a hunger for hope guided all to move from the unquestionable perilous location.... step out to the unknown.

The passageway was reasonably wide, though the flickering scares intermittent emergency lighting showing up unidentified gloomy shadows darting to and fro absconding into dark concealed corners... caused mayhem with individual nerves of the humans. The call came from somewhere, light could be seen glimpsing in-between some sort of blockage just further along. Visibility was nearly possible though touch and smell was the senior senses. The so called impasse was people all piled up in a mass. How many was impossible to tell but all the humans who touched the bodies agreed....a sticky substance covered their skin...

Dishearten mode once again set a course of neurotic action...just to reach the relative sanctuary light gives to those in darkness... they all scrambled towards their new haven until they were forced to stop because the unnatural glaring light, from the interior just ahead, stung the cold bloodshot eyes ....what they came across made each and every one of those desperate humans.... stand completely paralyzed... staring not in complete fear...but total revulsion of dis-belief..

It had been thought their extreme chilling circumstances could not become any worse....but they were about to....

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peter.howden
My Almanac;3;04/08/2015

Aging as I approaching well into my elderly years, towards a wintery daze or haze, still holding one advantage, or solace.... a theory how I have the same silly mind as when I was twenty odds but with more complicated emotions frizzing around my mind and body. Bravery is not one of my strongest suits, perhaps foolhardy is nearer the point, but when Salty (my brother-in-law David)...my friend.... demanded a match to end all confusion of who is still “The Boy” I rallied to the gauntlet. This may appear flippant, even childish but the challenge is after some 45 odd years sporadically playing, who is the ultimate champion at “Alcohol Chess” a classy competition, created with alcohol of various descriptions, and a chess board and 32 pieces being the vital ingredients.

Trust a couple of Scots to play a game of gripping strategy while gulping booze which is well kent for making you dopy, the venue...his extended caravan down Saltcoats way.

Was I off my game, possibly I could not handle such pressure, yet was his mutt rubbing my leg like a cat a distraction, is not quite clear if but an excuse for the truth of the matter is I got slaughtered two nil. Exuberant with his win the scoundrel attempted to claim lord of all the games ever played however he forgets I am from Viking stock and the world champion at the moment is Norwegian...this speaks unspoken volumes. The contest is afoot....

Making my way along the promenade to the ultimate contestable event, the unpredictable weather had formed stormy dark waves rolling against the crumbling wall with an invisible energy yet to be harnessed. I timed my steps in the intervals the waves allowed where at on halting curiously, in the midst of raging sea, an eye of the storm, exclusively preforms enchanting illusions of absolute serenity... as the sun shone magic over animated haven of tranquillity just out of reach from the shore.

Quiffs of warm rays acting as indistinguishable fairies cupping their hands allowing silvery peapods of brilliant shiny light, energized by a allusive sun ...allowing escaping hoary drops to skate along in ripples to faraway in the distance...safe from prying eyes.

You see what you want to see but..... you can feel uncontrollably completely abandoned ...lost in a vapour of onus, yearning for the impossible as blobs form into lamenting erratic at certain times and dates of the calendar holding anniversaries which holds a dread of time passing. Ignoring garb or appearance to the outside world, neglecting yourself within the bubble you find yourself in...Sobbing at the slightest unknown hint from an action or word randomly spoken... creating instant despair and unfortunate doom... for a unknown spread of time ....before the awful darkness disappears deep under emotion bridges acting as guards to maintain sanity

Toni, our eldest daughter died unexpectedly, on the 6th August; 2011 and Rebecca and I miss her so... yet the ache is still irrepressibly there ....

we, .....Rebecca, Chris, Nikki and main man Fergus.... as a whole family .... Can think and talk about Toni in past times and situations...and smile in remembrances ...without teardrops falling.... Selfishly ... as usual....I just want to say “Hi”...once more

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peter.howden
Infinity Minus One...Finally

The sudden intensity of natural light blazing through security bonded glass of the hemispherical structure, created almost a criminal endurance of vision pain, preventing them witnessing the unadulterated revulsion of what was before them from appearing straight away. In their transitory blindness... the survivors tripped...then stumbled over bundles of something or other decomposing. These actions caused talcum powder effect dispersing around their feet and across the floor.

Just as if planned by an unidentified spine-chilling source.... the emergency lighting flickered and flashed, for a moment or two, accompanied by upper high pitch frequencies screeches through the vile unexplainable atmosphere, bestowing the first revealing grisly picture.... which authors of untold consequences terrifying paranoia phantasms, laid in body and mind, for the scarce time they had remaining on earth. Those of the group who witnessed this first hand just stood like statues, unable to move limb or call out a warning to those yet to appear...so as they scrabbled in...Their revulsion was equal to earlier arrivals and stood just as still in ugly flabbergast repulsion. .

Petrified while turning around to see what they had been stumbling or tripping over...was not abstract objects, but they could have been named so.... but nearer of human origin, for even at first unwelcome peep...all life had been sapped from them... leaving not a body....but a form ...just. Weirdly was a white powdery substance cast in a wide area of the filthy flooring. The junior technician is the first to speak in a lenient quivering voice, revealing this was the area where the professors and dons, looking for new breakaway medicines, to be extracted from South America rain forest. This part of the lab was a small but meticulous to every life form within a tropical forest so much so the humidity was almost extreme.

Outside was darkening...aided and abated by the mass of killer midgies... gathering, as if praying for the slightest opportunity with the dishevelled targets moving inside the dome.... while inside around the jungle floor, lay fungi named “Ophiocordyceps”. In its angelic shape it is most deadly when spawning. This was repeatedly muttered by the now frantically Tec assistant. It was obvious that death had played the villain in this catastrophe... but the tragic path to such agonizing demise was ruthlessly beyond endurance of any human. Countless huddles of bodies lay around causing the stale air to turn near putrid while a few unidentified reputed petrified humans, white as sheets and drained of blood, walk senselessly to nowhere in mindless automaton...akin to a zombie manner

Their elected lead officer, being the assistant Laboratory technician, cringed with dread, was almost so out of his mind in distress, he barely made logic in his now ramblings, more sort of howled rather than spoke in and clear communication with his fellow stranded victims. If action speaks louder than words then it was obvious to all and sundry trapped in this glass arch....that something awful could...or would happen....which they had no control. While from time to time, the thick, presumed unbreakable, security glass shuddered ever so slightly ...every so often...but if they had not been so alarmed they would have observed signs of weakness in its structure.

Turning over the facedown rancid dead bodies came the sight of sights, as not only were they lifeless in every manner but some sort of growth coming from the necks, sometimes from the top of the head. But the alarming factor of these growths was....they were growing while the hosts had obviously died in excruciating pain

In a rare fit of normality, the lab technician manage to string together a few words explaining exactly what was the fiendish conundrum.....He quietly said we are all going to be the living dead for a day or so....then die until the fungi reverts to spawning. Ophiocordyceps parasites treats they host it lands on as zombie like creatures until finally it tortures the victim to death making sure we die in the vicinity of others...making sure of potential hosts for the fungus.


peter.howden
(Grannies remedy)


As a young boy, a growing adolescent, I suffered badly from dreaded spots and boils of all shapes and sizes. As the years have passed this embarrassment state has been explained as normal growth behaviour for teenagers of the male gender but while in action this became a constant harassment. The boils would spurt out with surprising speed and I would look in the mirror just before leaving to go out, and I would certainly see one or even two maturing on my neck. A look further on and there was a spread around my lower chin. Other boys had boils but they never seemed as big or as sore as mine. My affliction in tow I managed to struggle through life and carry on to marry the girl of \my heart. Life was now appearing colourful and bliss until the fateful day
.
A few days before that particular morning’s dawned, it became obvious that a boil had travelled far. This singular inflamed swelling had settled between the cheeks of my bottom. I did not know how big it actually was, but it felt like a volcano erupting pain Rebecca and I had been married for only a few weeks and we were still on honeymoon really and totally inexperienced in life or its funny ways. Rebecca could remember a remedy to rid of boils handed down by her great Gran to Gran to mum and then to her of a magic poultice made up of heated sugar, soap and kaolin and just thinking about it now brings tears to the eyes.

I lay on the bed face down while the gently warmed substance was placed between my bare cheeks and this mountain of a boil. After a short period we both realized that it was not being of any good and my wife suggests that it is not hot enough. The second attempt was totally different for the mixture was heated as far as she dared and then a couple of minutes extra for good measure like all good novice cooks do. The chosen wrap around the mixture was too small a piece for the amount of mixture made, expanded by heat I think , so when it was placed a second time it hit raw flesh. Well it was such a shock it forced my cheeks together which made the mixture act like super glue while the force of the clam tight cheeks spurted the by now huge extra stuff out in all directions but mainly the ravine of my exposed bottom.

I was never a great athlete at school but with my new overheated aid I leapt upwards into the air from my lying position to what I believe a hairs breath away from the ceiling of our Victorian room returning back to bed in a cat like posture screaming “get the buggering thing off”. This created a panic in Rebecca, much the same as a chicken that has had its unfortunate head chopped; she grabbed the only piece of cloth showing and pulled with feverous vigour.

Unfortunately as she pulled more of this home made larva discovered virgin skin relatively unscathed which lead to my second leap. It was not as high a leap as my first but it did manage to squish the remaining mixture forcing me to squeal in a very high pitch which I have since never been able to repeat and I wish not to. After such an ordeal you would imagine that the very boil would have at least burst but no way.

Rebecca argued convincingly that since I had been to hell and back, and to rid myself of this boil once and for all, heat I should try a course that her Granddad swore by. On reflex ion I now know why Granddad swore and call me a fool but by now I was past reason or thought and also my threshold for pain or so I believed.

I watched my wife prepare a heavy old milk bottle by heating it up in water just below boiling. She explained that by heating the bottle and placing it on the skin it would act like a kind of vacuum therefore suck up the boil puss and all. You may find this hard to believe that there was no sensation of pain what so ever when it was placed surrounding the offending boil and she insisted that for it to work she would count up to twenty before removing the very hot bottle with the two towels raped around it.

I was extremely embarrassed by now but the count came to an end seemingly without success until Rebecca tried to remove the bottle which was rock fast. She had no choice but to give a violent tug and being in an awkward position lost her grip on the bottle leading to my third leap but my screams by now were muffled by muteness.

The aftermath was cream placed gently on the whole area and I was told the boil was indeed burst. A few days later, with the aid of mirrors, I was able to see for myself and all that remained and to this day is a perfect red ring mark.

My lovely wife has never had a boil or if she has never told me……
-=-=-=
peter.howden


Sombre



The whole country, if not the entire world, was on ‘Red alert’ due to massive overcrowding caused by mindboggling population explosion causing standing room only, clambering for breathing space.... anywhere. Every square scratch used throughout houses or business’ premises... strictly regulated with crushing controls and fines except for those and such as those. In surround towns, and cities old crumbling tenement closes, the long forgotten lobby-Dossers had returned, in catastrophic force, taking every inch of the stairways spare or unused.

It was a mystery, lost in a sea of a unknown paradox but everybody who was anybody wanted desperately to be in such privileged company, able to witness what lay behind the strong door of the exclusive room at the residence known purely as 99. This exorbitant valued domicile, with rooms of miniature ballroom eminence, lay in the most exclusive part of metropolis not so regimental restricted to living space standards as were the less affluent areas or the grim and grime reality for the poor members of the population.

The ground planning authorities of the council, with their genuflecting councillors, tend to turn a blind eye to certain areas of their abodes, tolerating several centimetres here...or there, but especially on the professional made peoples, near aristocratic rank, allowing a sense of decorum decency, allotted solely for the very privileged few to wallow in. Size did and does matter.

The grandiloquent avenue was the location of ‘Thee’ establishments in town, each dwelling more ostentatious than the next, due to bombastic owners, creating near tasteless one-upmanship, displaying their fluctuating affluence by covering every spot on walls complete with floors chockfull with artefacts beyond usefulness but extravagantly stupendous beyond measure in coinage of estimate.

Each habitat was not populated but simply to be looked on with countless envious, had an open door policy just to pamper the sickly affluent as privileged. Every hall...parlour, bedroom and study...in fact every cavity in the house including the water-chambers open for inspection for all and sundry.. to witness their fabulous lavishness...except in the one house baptized 99... This one house had one undisturbed room so named by all as the “Ultimate Apotheosis”. This residence was rated the tops the definitive in opulence...just out of reach from everyone on the planet. .

Wild rumours ran eccentrically with every bit of gossip or tittle-tattle having great expectations of what lay behind the massive exotic ‘Ebony Walnut’ doors, enhanced by pure white marble passageway to shame even the exclusive Taj Mahal. No one in living memory had even a hint or peek as to what was inside... but whatever it was...was impossible to envisage but obviously superior to the wildest dreams of the legend’s ‘King Solomon’s Mines’ or ‘The count of Monte Cristo’.

The owner of this unbelievable establishment gave a surprise declaration of his intentions to let a small elite party to view his house which would include the mysterious “Ultimate Apotheosis”. Twelve persons would be...by card invitation....the following noon to inspect what very one had spoken about for at least a decade....probably the 8th wonder of the world. Voices rang out from the moment of such electrifying proclamation right to the last second ticking of ‘11 of the next morning clock’. People of all sorts boosted they held a precious invitation and the volumes of currency bartered for such a ticket rose higher and higher out of protocol of any stock market before or since.

It was hard to tell for the huge crowd which had been there before dawn, whither shrieks of amazement or disbelief, as one unholy scream echoed through the mansion... and even when the lucky twelve disciples came out looking absolutely bewildered. What they saw when the massive Ebony Walnut’ doors released its ultimate secret was a enormous chamber of ballroom dimensions...empty of anything other than dust......

The proud proprietor sporting a broad sneer, strutting like a peacock, was the only man known...on this earth.... near collapse due to overpopulation, who could afford to waste valuable space having an colossal priced property with a part of the building, utterly void of anything.

The utter insanity of it all was his coy confession, to those who listened to every syllable hoping they would be privilege for the next viewing. The disclosure was.... in frightful tainted haughty voice “Entering the room and squatting on the bare boards in the middle gloating and ravishing voracious thoughts of superiority”

Was it the decisive affluent one-upmanship....or decadent unmeasurable?

-=-=-=-=-=
peter.howden
My Almanac; 3; 14/08/2015

When individuals say quite in a glib manner , how old age is actually a state of mind, it is obvious to me , they have not reached what could be safely called mature or creeping ever closer to this life’s end goal, which as far as my limited knowledge aspires to, everyone and everything, on this blue planet... expiries . I’m certainly not complaining or boasting about aging or the journey reaching such a state of affairs having spent getting so far, and the remaining time on this mortal coil is a guess at best, I would not have missed it for the world, but like everything in life...it comes at a cost



There is realization, innovative tedious aches and pain arise given birth from simple day to day activities, which never triggered anything before, when young and virile, other than a light curse in passing, now instigates unintended realistic collisions with inanimate objects...instantly truly hurting beyond imagination.

People treat you differently, mostly with kind intentions, wishing to lend a helping hand while underestimating what older people can achieve though taking slightly longer to do so. There is a myth age brings wisdom... where is actual fact they carry baggage... personally I can and prove often being just as daft as when I first read ‘Oor Willie’ in the Sunday Post. If there is a stupid way to do things...I’ll find it with no bother at all.

Memory plays unpredictable tricks, recalling certain complexed matters with amazing mental agility, while simple names or places or times can create confusion as recalling separate years sleek together like a psychological Mediterranean concertina or accordion as I am luckily happen to be Scottish I call women’s “Girl” not as an insult but their name has skidded momentary out of my mind.

If I am honest most names have not only slipped within my concentration but freestyle skiing down hidden Alps. When ‘She who must be obeyed’ and I attempt to recall a name or a place or a title we are a two person team...bob sleighing

Trying to decipher or predict when the final day will arrive is to box with an imaginary shadow or play with an imaginary gun... its bullet knows nothing about intellect. Or even I Q... no Dorian Grey in me on canvas although a unknown artiste caricature of me hanging on the wall of my den everlasting but I would care not a “Sous” to be immortal......

I think it is time for a rest a little relaxation for a week or two... doing nothing yet I sense.... there will come a time, later on, where I will be as busy as a bee...all day...and every day......doing nothing ........see you in a few weeks.........
peter.howden
My Almanac 3; 17/08/2015

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry...perchance in culture but certainly, most certainly, in life when optimism is thru an apparition when hope is made a phantom. Our holiday was such a vision

Friday there Aunt Becky and I were safely down the outside stairs, passing through the garden gate, to keep an appointment with her chiropodist, when Aunt Becky tripped and fell flat out, arms stretched out in unholy confusion. Unfortunately as she landed face down, causing rather sever looking bumps and gashes on her forehead, twisted her left thumb on impact, grazing the other. My main problem was attempting to lift her up from the pavement, for although near midget in height but deceivingly roly-poly ...she weighed a lot...heavy boned. As luck would have it a neighbour taxi man came to our aid...along with a few others.

Safely back in her home then carefully washing her face, she certainly looked shocked and bewildered and shaky forcing my first conclusion If I had taken her to the emergency unit in the Royal....they would have most defiantly kept her in for observation, which would not help Aunt Becky’s position. Becky does not like clinics or infirmaries, for she belongs to the era when going into hospital was, for most folk, unlikely to return to the bosom of the anxious family.



With this heavily on my mind, I decided near spontaneously to put her to bed and call the Doctor. While the kettle warmed up, I called the Doctor’s reception first who asked if we could make out way. Cut a long story short, we did just that and after attending both the doctor and the nurse who were quite pleased with their examination....nurse cleaned and attended the wounds(mostly superficial) and asked if I would bring her back on Wednesday, in the Springburn health centre...just as a update to see her progress mainly because Becky is 88 years young but mixed up.



There was more than the few moments when glances broke thru the aged craggy face... indicating childish trepidation plainly peering thru staring eyes companied with quivering lips which failed to be disguised..... Dread of the unidentified... although she is a brave wee soul....



Yesterday ‘She who must be obeyed’ and I, having already given our word to look after the neighbour’s cute mutt next door, for Agnes’s daughter’s wedding was take place. I was still obligated to three meetings on Thursday, which the plan was to drive up from Saltcoats to attend, winding up the business of A.G.M for the year



We have made the unanimous decision to leave this forth coming Friday instead of our original break time.

Hope it will be still Sunny Saltcoats by the time we get there...but Becky and Rebecca’s piece of mind comes first before anything....



Saltcoats may not be up to scratch as once gleefully advertising as one of the ‘Three towns’ of sunny ‘Clyde’s Riviera’ but for we two olden rovers, it brings back such memories you cannot buy. Due to the lack of spare money while the children were growing up, first Stevenson, then Saltcoats was the holiday haven for us all, including the “Voice” (my petite mother-in-law) whose whisper was a stranger to her lips since birth but underneath...a welcoming heart. She is no longer with us but sometimes, in streets surrounding the coastal township, an illusion of sighting of her.... scurrying just out of reach.



Time to catch up with household duties...I am not henpecked.....I just want to live....



P.P.S. gives me time to listen to the greatest jazz band ever....”Dutch Swing Collage Band”.....more than makes up for the delay

--=-=-
peter.howden

POSTCARDS;



“I’m afraid your hastily arranged visit down to our Wee ‘Retreat for the elderly and infirm’, has been fruitless” “Not that we are not pleased to see you, nevertheless the information from crackpot journalist has been nothing but desperate lies... on a slow Newsday...or so say those knuckle editors name these sort of days... with no sign of soul but tragedy.



“Your aunt is fine...doing so well though now I have to break a promise but do it within the knowledge you will be more than overjoyed... as we were.... when she told us in confidence.” “We are really sorry for your frantic journey, so un-necessary but at least your minds will be put at ease”.



“Totally outrageous and how dare these pathetic defamatory rags, for that is all they are you know?.... should print such slander and I can assurance you this! We will be seeking out our lawyers and suing for every demandable printed word…..they should not be allowed to operate so?”



“How long has that charming lady of an aunt of yours stayed in the safety of our little retreat from the outside world? Some 10 months and it only seems like yesterday you and her walked through that door for the first time?.

“What I’m about to tell you in the fullest intimacy, will maybe terribly shook you.... but remember your Aunt has a mind of her own and these things can happen …even at her age?. “She met a man and they fell in love” “It’s as simple and lovely as that”



“Nothing at all sinister about it;. Just romantic entwine”…. How dare these papers squander our good name and make our customers madly worried!” “To think or invent such a immoral line as to hope to be believed…that we would kill off our lovely clients or as we would prefer to call them…our elderly family…but to do away with those completely healthy souls to profit in the spare parts market…What audacity? What madness?”



“Now back to your Aunt…She and Charles…(Yes this is the name of the elegant respectful exquisite suitor who courted and wooed ... then very smitten by your Aunt)….they have eloped to a secret address...somewhere in the vastness of the Mid Pyrenees …..In France where everyone loves a lover…They stayed in gay Paris for a short honeymoon but the mountainous air won out……Now you cannot tell those scandalous papers for the couple prize their privacy above all else ….



Don’t you worry... I will have my day in court and they will all rue the very day they printed such rubbish…..Anyway; Please mum’s the word... for I gave a solemn sacred vow for myself to the loving couple just as they departed. But I do have the most irrefutable direct evidence to ease your mind….



Here are four postcards…one for every week they have been there and sent by your Aunt personally....all in her hand writing expressing everlasting love devotion to Charles…now is that not sweet. is it not?” “As you can see…she has given details as to her intention to stay there as long as they are happy”.





“Sorry…did not quite catch that; what are you saying….your Aunt…your beautiful Aunt never learned to read…..or write?”
peter.howden

GRATUITY



I tell this tale as a penance rather than a warning to others whose common sense and inflated head can be turned due to personal gluttony for the item known as money.

It all started quite innocently and for something totally different than the purpose of such an establishment named as a betting shop. The motive for being in such an gambling premises was purely pressure and need quite urgently, for a toilet. Since the galleries of authority have frozen public expenditure, this comprises cuts on social services including the opening hours of gent’s relief premises...built in Victorian age with disposal of natural waste in mind.


Before anyone can jump to misplaced conclusion...that I may, in any way blame the councillors or our austere fathers of the city chambers for my predicament, they would be wrong. I take full responsibility for my actions, and results here after on my own weary shoulders.

On leaving the shop I became rather curiously interested to watch racing coming from many screens at once. The whole area surrounding the multiple screens stood ridged statuettes of eagerly tense punters whose very reason for breathing gave me the impression, their existence within sanity, depended on this next result. I had no wish or want to become a convicted gambler, induced randomly to bet on a four legged creature.

I watched with some smug comfort as the poor gamesters showed so agonizingly, the pain of losing
Their pathetic heads hung down in defeat against an invisible enemy squeezing everything including bleaching their bones white...without qualifications.

Just about to leave this enticing gaiety colour trappings of a money bleeder, a man I had associated many moons ago, while working in a pub situated near Queens Park. He walked up to me. . As far as I could recall he was exceptionally careful with money, being christened as a miser, along with ‘John’ and addressed as Careful John. For some reason un-characteristically, he felt obliged to whispered a tip as some kind of gratuity. He left me with a greyhound’s name.

Does not sound much in the cold light of day nevertheless the brute happened to be running in Shawfield that evening. The thing is; no matter what whisper went on this running mutt; I checked the results next morning...it had won.

John; owned several greyhounds himself, employing several guy’s to exercise them. I would not call John a Felon, well not to his face, in spite of the fact, most of his business associates were crooks, while there was no doubt. John was a jazzy dresser which suited his handsome appearance...but beware...appearances can be deceiving.

A week or so later I return to the smoked filled scene under inquisitiveness, sighting John standing apart from the grumbling crowd He pulled me aside and inquired quite gently if I frequented this particular betting establishment often. My answer no...did not look give the impression too pleased him or disappoint. “Look Ben (emphasise was on Ben) I would like you to bet for me as my face is well too known around here and if you have any brains, you would put a packet on them yourself” spoke John in an imitation soft manner which hid his darker side. “All I ask” he continued though in a slightly rougher form “is you make the ticket with Bells& Fishes as a nom deplume” “Simple is it not?----I’m relying on you Ben” he called with a hint of excitement as he handed me a envelope, plus a note of paper. Before I could even ask any question I was alone as John had simply vanished

I took a peek into the large envelope to discover a even £1,000. I quickly folded it up in attempt to hide such a large sum. I felt as everybody’s eyes was on me because I knew this was not right... but what the hell was I to do?. I checked the name of the mount Albaran;... quickly decided my course of action. I placing the bet as strongly advised by John, along with his nom deplume. I then grappled with my conscience about the small monies I carried, in my pocket, to buy my wife her first present for years.

Then with not one more thought allowed in my head I ventured the whole some of £45 on the strength of our previous agreement that worked well in my favour. The horse won by a mile and so I collected on both tickets. Unseen John was once more by my side with his hand out to collect his gains. He never mentioned my side bet and I certainly didn’t

John studied some runners and then scribbled a name on another envelope stacked this time an unbelievable £5,000. Placing down the nom-deplume along with the runner mount called Antares and wandered confidently up to the desk and placed John’s bet. Then I took my winnings and placed all on John’s new steed. It romped home yards in front. I have to admit right here and now I was not only excited beyond dreams…………………. I was electrified. .

John disappeared completely never to be seen again even with a few visits, by me, to the same gambling den which at the time a truly selfishly regretted because as Arthur in T/V Minder says ‘a nice little earner’.

Now I see it was the best thing that could have happened because I might have become one of this immovable statuettes hanging on to an uncertain existence....but hey.....I was pure dead electrified.....
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

peter.howden

Booked unprinted 'Part 1




Jim casually stepped down from the train, soothing his craving for nicotine, rolled then lit a slim cigarette, while observing coonstanly all around ...considering what or who was around him, as he always did, just to check all was friendly. On occasions in the past it had not been so, and he still senses the scars. Rumbling through his pockets for wallet and tickets, to make sure he has not been dipped while sleeping on the Pullman travelling through the unknown... a frown appears around his craggy face, even though both were cool... but he had a uneasy feeling... something was just not connecting.



At first he was unaware the train was silently pulling away, increase speed to allow the locomotive departure from the platform. Taking a few steps then Jim looked directly at the main massage board; which struck him like a thunderbolt he was in the wrong station, which the faded writing on the railway swinging sign... established. This was a one horse town....without a horse.



He desperately tried to catch the ever disappearing railroad car, but even the very last carriage was way out of reach. Frantically he searched his flawed mind as to what to do now...for logged in his intimate faith...his destiny was on this train...in the carriage with his personal numbered seat he had deliberately reserved for the journey.



Jim instant anger quickly simmered down, for he was a professional and specialists are cool and methodical. His mind was now operationally rational; frustratingly work out just how it happened as this tedious journey was foretold in the omens long ago. His advance book ticket with the right seat number, correct destination, in big print. His token cardboard ticket had been close to his heart which he gawked on secretly, almost every night just after the midnight hour, for weeks, trusting it was a pass out of where he was.... an answer to many a prayer.



Jim sincerely believed it to be a heavenly guiding light...a divine communication to a new start. The number of the seat he had chosen by an inspirational act of blindfolding himself, opening the bible to finger a passage, pinpointing a verse. The numeral revealed and the letter of the book, he selected to be his carriage away from his ever growing obscurity.



The locomotive was reaching a underpass along the tracks as Jim heaved within...then shrugged his massive shoulders, conceding to a now dreadful and unwanted ill- fortune...which his fate had played a losing card. Considering his next step, there was a deftly silence followed suddenly with an almighty explosion bellowing from the tunnel which the train had entered



A massive awareness of intense heat thundered...then whispered from the opening of the railway passageway, causing high velocity air to splatter full of black gasses carrying big and small particles to rise way above the area of the station. Fragments of unknown origin settled in slow motion as people including Jim...failed to move...at time stood perfectly still.

Confusion followed by indescribable clamour hollered down from the tunnel. full of terrible echoing pains screaming overpowering terror.



An announcement over the crackling ancient loud speaker mumbles something about a collision. As these words were being translated over a stunned audience, Jim found himself running towards the tunnel enclosed in darkness, with just a hint of light somewhere in the awful blackness.

-=-=-=-=
peter.howden
Booked unprinted ‘Part 2

Immediately everything happened in slow motion…then utter confusion burst out savage panic erupting into waves of screaming despair of denial disbelief from the unfortunate witnesses as Jim strived to reach the edge of the now obvious catastrophe...then as if some indefinite influence was guiding and directing his concentration for one purpose and one purpose alone…to search out the very carriage booked, in his very name, to travel to his proven rendezvous with fate.

Inside the subway through the chaos of tangled wreckage of twisted distorted steel girders smashed into coach after coach, complicated combined with fragmented pre-stressed concrete sleepers, which once was laid railway lines. All around was the airborne atrocious odour of death sharing with burning sparking electric pongs suffocating the foul air available in the once sturdy tunnel?

Feeling his way,

With no attention to caution because of a indefinite impulse to seek out the coach he would have travelled in. Was it a morose excuse he was alive but would he have survived such a disaster, he had no idea, the single need was to be perused…at all cost. Jim felt his way along the continuously mayhem with forms and sights vaguely appearing which no eyes should be challenged to see.

Just ahead through the clamour and frightening darkness, as if by some unexplainable awful magic, a mysterious bizarre source of light displayed the numbered carriage which contained Jim’s booked seat, just seemingly stood on its own… more or less totally unscathed. Jim’s first impression was nigh disbelief, as the carnage all around totally disproved this possible…yet his bloodshot ease kept testifying what was there…surrounded by the agonizing screeches of utter horror, almost stripped Jim of all emotions other than fear which griped his body into a ridged standstill position


Once he managed to pull together his stunted wits, Jim slowly near crept through the adjacent gloom with some caution, to reach the actual doorway to the unharmed carriage…he gingerly stepped in…not knowing what he was about to witness.



As far as he could see the entire coach was completely empty and undamaged. Not one seat showed any sign of ever being occupied…or any napkin, used to prevent the head rest from being soiled by Brylcreem from gent’s hair, was unplaced or even wrinkled. He walked unhindered towards the corner seat he knew was his reservation. As he neared his seat, the inexplicable light uncovered the final horror to witness one thin steel shaft of twisted girder, rammed through the window directly lodged tragically, into one single male person literary sprawled through blood and sweat in his reserve seat. Jim had no medical experience; though this was not necessary, for Jim instinctively saw, with a simple glance, the poor man was in a real bad way.

In his muddled head Jim could have sworn the train was packed and his seat was the only one vacant while he stepped down from the train.

He did his best to make the stranger comfortable; telling him help should not be long, though the truth whispered that all was lost and his gut erupted with terribly emptiness. He could not help himself looking with genuine pity at the broken figure in his seat. He opened up his heart to the dying man, confessing he must have been mad to follow a fantasy as fate had played a terrible trick, by allowing another person to take his place. He should be there, not the stranger. . He was the one designed to perish...not the stranger.

This crumpled body made every effort to gather hidden strength from within to utter these words for Jim, who by now was crying extensively. “Don’t look for death, for it will find you without any assistance from you”. Taking a deep excruciating breath, the stranger continued, ‘I’m crippled now but my mind is still sharp remembering past happenings”. “I have more happiness to recall which keeps me reasonably content... for these last moments”. He lay back to rest and then uttered

“Don’t call it madness to follow unscheduled dreams, call it foolhardy if you wish…but don’t call it madness”. “Chance happens just by living; despair takes hold when you think about it”. “It’s called Fate when you are looking for a reason and a poor one at that”.

With these last words.... The man died.... leaving Jim……..
peter.howden
My Almanac3;02/08/2015



At last we had our jaunt down sunny Saltcoats way with truly agreeable weather, and as if commanded just one heavy downpour during one night-time….which gave my car a much needed wash. Salty’s (my brother-in-law David) hideaway has all the mod cons one could desire and reasonably comfortable to sit around even for two more elderly persons bent on their own chair’s unique qualities.



For us two lovebirds, of some long standing, Saltcoats is jam packed of memories and wishes, sometimes tearful, as our children grew up with holidays…first in Stevenson then Saltcoats. Like many seaside towns and villages around the Scottish coastline the fabric and buildings are looking weary due to no investment and lack of visitors. They are part of the “Three Toons” but due to falling visitors.



The voice (my mother-in-law) this time failed to materialize or make an appearance either in phantom or illusion masquerade as she has done so often, but at the bridge between the two towns, we recalled most of the antics preformed by Nancy throughout the years… well past from the present. Holding hands while on the old bridge, looking out to wind swept beach, with sand-dunes for shelter if the wind changed its mind and caught a cold, a rip-roaring sea producing white tumbling wild seahorses, the reminiscences just flooded back…along with a few snuffles. You can never relive the past…no matter the yearning .

The following day will strolling higher than sea level allowing the grand view of the watery horizon of the Firth of Clyde breaching the open sea, was Arran... complete with the magnificent ‘Goat-Fell’; through sunshine galore with only the odd dog walker breaking the mood of the shifting sands still warm for all that, while I ambled alone along the peaks of the shifting dunes. This is a bird’s paradise because of the marshy ground fenced in from the public so not destroying their fragile habitat. There are no such rules for such as the magnificent fox just sprawled out between the bushes and caring not a yelp for me.

Drifting further along the deserted beach, enjoying the solitude as near Robinson Crusoe as I wish…mystic low tide pools appeared full of amazing marine life hidden under rocks and seaweed, algae of different varieties and fantastic bright colours. I leaped at the opportunity to return to childhood days and investigate those marvelous hidden world’s full of starfish, Lichen, Sea anemones, mussels’, crabs and tons of wee fishes complete with crawling things completely out of this world One difference was I did not prod them with sticks or stones…even the jelly fish who were stranded on the sand. A very pleasant hour or two flew away, wallowing in animation…of all my yesterdays, with serene enjoyment.

The day controlled themselves as we relaxed the whole five stolen days… for ‘She who must be obeyed’ and me…it was simply sublime
peter.howden
Benghazi Mice

There have been many stories about the ancient lads, known with affection…as the ‘Benghazi Mice;’; loosely formed ,and named in 1987 of the selected group, but by now baptized as Scotland’s answer to “The last of summer wine”. There is only other slight niggling thing, to annoy the older mind… “Who is Compo amongst us”. As you may have gathered, I am more than proud to be one such member A bunch of more senior lads who partook the Turkish baths; in Pollokshaws Sports Centre …each Saturday morning.

The function of the suite was less important than the rendezvous and comradeship, not surpassed before or since, formed into a bond. When Pollokshaws was mistakenly demolished, by the hidden Glasgow Council….we moved to East Kilbride “Dollan Centre”.



Right thru, organized nights out, on regular bases of the 12, original members, combined with field trips abroad. One such memorable excursion was a several day trip to Amsterdam…involving a longish bus runs down to Hull, then a boat journey overnight. ‘The Three Musketeers’ volunteered to take this task, to go Dutch, which would, or could spell danger in the watery canal streets of the capital of the Netherlands.



John, big Jim, Archie and I…were ready willing, presumed able; to take on the pleasures of Amsterdam and the entire canal city could offer. The ferry across provided music, entertainment provided no less, by the actor who played the bank manager in the Scottish comical , ‘City lights’. This nautical soirée was accompanied with first class food and drink. After a jovial time, when all were rather Fu, we chose to find allotted berths with Archie and I sharing. Corridor after alphabetical corridor lined with torpedo sized cabins with fold down bunks. The suction of the toilet was breathtakingly powerful and noisy when the plunger was pulled. The bunks were surprisingly comfortable



Next morning we all met up for a quick breakfast, with John complaining how uncomfortable his sleeping hours was but more so as to Big Jim’s constant snoring but what made sleep almost impossible was the room in the actual buck provided. John carried on, in a grumpy manner, how he was pinned down with Jim's mass.



It quickly dawned on Archie and I when we sniggered and asked “Did you sleep in one bunk?” With some sort of indignity…usually brought on from the morning after a swally (An honour Glasgow get-together with drinks provided), John replied…. “Of course…we’re mates”



They had failed to notice all cabins had two fold down bunks

-=-=-=-=-=-=-
peter.howden
My Almanac,3;06/09/2015

Our two goldfish have demised in a mysterious manner which even if they had survived would have been unable to convey what actually took place. One was called Moby. The other Dick and akin to the classical tale, from the pen of Herman Melville…Moby was a [prickly customer. Moby bullied Dick, with a Freud like attitude, quote (The ego is not master in its own house) replacing Captain Ahab. All I know is Moby will not pursue now…and Dick will not be a Dick no more.

Another sad admission being not only am I aging by each second/hour relationship with life but simple every day repairs, or things to do around the house, now are under question mark as to where exactly they are or how tight the blinking screw is. My strength is under question and is seeping at an alarming rate…there is a limit now with everything needing to be planned. This is foreign to my past, as I never knew any constraints before…just did what I wished …when I wished …without thought, rhyme or even reason. Now every dunt or dink, once just triflingly annoying, is sore and positively painful with a capital “F”.

Aunt Becky, being the rare wee lady she is, has recovered quite satisfactory her last fall, which from now on will keep ‘She who must be obeyed’ and I on our toes while taking her out. Becky and I take to the road around the Strathblane situated in the middle of the remarkable Kilpatrick hills, then head further afield, perhaps ‘Milton of Campsie and back home within the hour. All the time Kenneth Mc Keller and the like are singing the heads off, as Aunt Becky taps her feet to the tunes of ‘Will ye no comeback again’ and ‘The Skye boat song’. I used to think I was doing it for Aunt Becky…but it has come to pass it is for my own well being as well… and I miss it on the days I can’t manage for one reason or other…its like a welcoming visual medication…changing at every visit.

We may have lost our goldfish but then again we still have, in pride of place in the bathroom our yellow plastic ducks, the brace is growing all the time. The oldest members are Donald and Daft. Donald was a present from a Dundonian Innkeeper…who says people from Dundee are tight? perhaps with money but not with ducks. Daft does not mind being mistaken for Donald …but Donald does not like being mistaken for Daft.

The sun chose to visited Glasgow, preforming hours of summer suntan rays, altering the dial on houses Barometers over the last few days and what a difference this makes to the whole picture, bring a mood of contented acceptance. The stark reality is… Scotland is green due to rain and a brake, though not essential, is always welcome. I suspect, if we hardy Scots had sunshine all the year around, it would soon become tedious and yearn for the yesterday’s… fluttering with good old showers
peter.howden
THE FIRST MORNING;

Jill lay in the warmth of her marital bed. It was still very early but for some reason she just could not sleep. The bed itself was a huge king size which suited both her and Bill. What was this thing called love and Jill’s instinct called it, “Her Bill”… her lovely husband, who she just loved to bits. She need only think of him and he was there, protecting her if needed

They had been happily married for so long, they joked that the nuptial lines were written in Latin, but he just got handsomer &handsomer as the time just magically passed. Jill’s nose squiggled with delight as she puffed up the pillow softly, not to wake her man but snuggled gently, as close as close could be, contented more than anything else in her wakened and conscious mind…was her Bill…his face she treasure in dreams and thought

Some may see this being over the top, Jill told herself but how could it be because in Lena Horne’s words “What a man”; or was it Peggy Lee;… well whoever it was it certainly fitted Bill like a picture. In the Post office queue it really worried her as to how some women talked about their men. ‘I would not dream of treating my man any way but with love’, cooed Jill… as she instantly recalled how they met

Some really sad stories, if they were true, had come out of that post office queue. Some men were really mean to their spouses and for no reason at all. “Wonder why that is?” thought Jill, perhaps they should all have a king size bed to be able to snuggle up any time and keep the chill away.

A little bird landed on the window ledge which pleasantly startled Jill as she moved over her hand towards Bill, just for comfort but careful not to awaken him. It looks as if it will be a lovely day and Jill wondered for a while, where Bill would take her. She had not been down to the sea for some time though she just could not remember the last time, not exactly anyway

Jill snuggled inside the covers of the luxury of her marital bed as she happily listened to Bill’s grunts and groans while sleeping; being excited like a wee lassie hoping he would wake soon He deserved a late sleep in…do you know, she demanded of herself, Bill has never even sworn at her, never raised his voice, not even that time when something or other happened, or she could not find the right words, where most men would have blown a gasket. They certainly broke the mould when Bill came along.

I hope the other women don’t think she is a bore, taking about Jim as she does but what else can she do. Not one bad word from him….Just a minute, I think he is wakening and need to be at my best, she excitingly whispered to herself as she turned around

A fearsome screech followed by deafening screams and an exasperating bawl and cry as she fought oft this total stranger who somehow got into her room and slept where Bill should have been. Jill let loose a frenzy of blows to protect herself from the unknown by biting scratching and as the stranger tried to cradle her in his unwanted arms. A terrified Jill screamed for her very life; Bill where’s my Bill…..what have you done to my Bill.



The man just sat there… unable to do anything but whisper softly but pathetically; ‘Jill; but I am your ‘Bill’.



Jill is suffering from progressive Alzheimer’s…this had been happening… becoming more violent every morning….for a considerable time….
peter.howden
Up North Twang

Each area of the British Isles may speak English but not with the same vernacular or indeed what is termed as the Queen’s English…thank god…. Who wants to speak with a load of toffies wobbling around the mouth and as if someone made up a speech a few hours earlier? Speaking and listening should be relaxed and a pleasurable affair while giving or gaining information… or just passing the time of day.

In years gone by Scotland always had a reputation of pronouncing words of English precisely and clearly though now it may be different. Having travelled up to Dundee and Aberdeen I can say it has been my experience that though I had to cock an ear more and listen intently what a Dundonian was saying…this was practically impossible with people who truly was born in Aberdeen known as Aberdonian. What a transformation 66 miles makes… Not route 66 which the Stones sing

If asking the way to ‘Union St’, they smile broadly, then proceed with Doric dialect which they guttural express in great haste losing peculiar vowels in confusion for five odd minutes or so, when you suddenly realize it was directions all the time they were trying to convey.

Weird words such as ‘Rummlieguts’ Clart; Thrawn Fa's, or ‘Bydand’ which means ‘Steadfast’ the proud motto for the ‘Gordon Highlanders’ or is it the gay Gordon’s. I do recognize, ‘Deoch an Dorus’, and have enjoyed Aberdonian company with a glass or two. Strangle my powers of understanding the local tongue grows easier the more alcohol I consume. One such time in one off their many taverns the subject of frugile Aberdonians carefulness with money and the likes was sneaked into the conversation.

The following tale was related.

A lowlander came to Aberdeen and set up a general grocers across the road from a general store. Out came the traditional blackboard and written with chalk was ‘Sugar 2/- a bag’. Seeing this the Aberdonian put out his blackboard and wrote in chalk ‘Sugar 1/-11d a bag. This spurred the new arrival to wipe his board and scribble in chalk, ‘Sugar 1/-9d a bag’ Each time the stranger placed his price the Aberdonian lowered his further this procedure carried on until later on in the day when eventually the stranger marked up in big letters , in chalk; ‘ Free Sugar’.

With a smirk on his lips, wandered across the road and said…you can’t beat that. The Aberdonian in a cool droll saying ‘Ken Telt nay …Aye dinna roup sucarr’…translate….Don’t you know… don’t sell sugar…



My small miracle was I understood the joke…told in Aberdonian patois
peter.howden
PEEWEE AND THE YOUNG PRETENDER;(1)

One evening, not all that long ago, after a few “Waters of Life” or as Glaswegians refer to “A Slight Refreshment”; while strolling along the coastline between Stevenson and Saltcoats, as the sun dimmed down allowing only a dusky light through, I had a feeling eyes where upon me. These were Peewee’s bifocal eyes, so with no urgency in mind I came across “Peewee” my old friend. Just as a reminder for those who may not know who, or whom Peewee is; he is the master mystical pigeon serving the famous city of Glasgow, by taking, under his wing, the Lord Provost and guiding all of them over the centuries.

He hardly ever communicated with humans, but gave me the privilege by picking myself as a confidant. The rare occasions we would meet at this particular beach coastline…was when the enchanted bird was on his sporadic vocations. The bizarre thing is; these meetings always happened at this time of night after I would walk home from a wee dram or two in the last pub of the small township of Stevenson…or the very first one in Saltcoats

On this unscheduled get-together, after our customary greetings were completed, followed some talk of the past history , including raising a stake on the oldest public park in Europe, ‘Glasgow Green’, where the ‘Molendiner Burn’ joins the Clyde and salmon was so plentiful, it was daily fed to the apprentices of Glasgow who complained bitterly to the Lord Provost.

This stirred a memory in Peewee, shaking his wings and feathers, as he tumbled on an incident which had happened long ago though still irritated him. He was talking about his favourite subject, which was Glasgow, when the name of ‘Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart' rose out the ashes of olden times followed by a debate that rang several interesting loud bells….

Peewee carried on with; “He was known as (The Young Pretender) or as some called him “Bonnie Prince Charlie" and "The Young Chevalier" (the French word for Knight). I asked in all innocence did he not believe he was a proper ‘Charlie’. To which he replied ruefully, YES…but we were all Charlie's the way we dealt with him.



Peewee continued to explain;

-=-=-=-=
peter.howden

PEEWEE AND THE YOUNG PRETENDER;(2)



With a discontented opinion; Peewee quietly continued with his tale of how portraits certainly displayed a handsome young man, although the Hanoverian rumour machine tried to spread stories that he was deformed and an imbecile, unbiased observer of the young Prince described him as arrogant impetuous and brave. Educated in Rome he learned…English, French, Latin and Italian (but there was nobody to teach him Gaelic) and a dab hand with a cross-bow. From an old ship Doutelle…his arrival would result in a massive, spontaneous uprising.



On 23 July 1745, Charles landed on the white sands of Eriskay, accompanied only by a small band of companions known as the "Seven Men of Moidart". The Prince sprinkled some seeds there... to this day known as the Prince's Flower grows there and nowhere else in Scotland.

Peewee’s eyes dulled as he recalled how the pompous, self-appointed Prince Regret sent a letter …demanding monies of £15,000 to the provost Andrew Cochran. His reply was a thorn in Prince’s craw, refusing because of Glasgow’s throng hostility against such a cause…and the chamber feared the mob more than his puny army.



Slowly speaking, Peewee story followed with the fatal return home, ahead, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, of a crippled depraved army, now a rabble with clothing in tatters. The Prince now threatened to turn loose his 6,000 riotous hielanders, billeted around St. Andrew's Parish Church which was under construction at the time



Rather the city sacked, merchants provide them with new outfits and a revitalised Prince Charles reviews his troops on “Flesher's Haugh”(now known as Glasgow Green) close to Glasgow’s first 'steamie', built in the middle of a field on the banks of the Camlachie Burn ,just a few years before.. The peoples of Glasgow had been let down by a council….and not for the last time.



Peewee’s voice reduced to a whisper as he explained how it was Glasgow’s poor who suffered that year…plus many years more, for the lack of basic supplies and essential food and clothing trough terrible conditions, while the affluent within the city limits felt not a pinch.

I could tell the way he was chirping all this out, he somehow blamed himself for that dreadful time which brought no joy, but misery for the citizens, and he personally rued the whole affair. Peewee added that in their haste they and the Lord Provost “Andrew Cochran”; did not seek his advice. He could understand the commercial greed of merchants though found it strange the Lord Provost acted so; as he (and all his fellows before and since) always sought debate with his trusted guardian of The Glasgow.

Just as his tale ended and I looked closely to his proud head I could have sworn I saw a tear if a tear was possible. Peewee thanked me for being an audience and departed into the night without another sound been heard. I was alone on the beach looking straight at the Isle of Arran and “Goatfell” sparkling magnificently in the silver moonlight.

I was grateful of having a friend such as peewee…as I took my last sip of the night… of the water of life
peter.howden
Not a Water baby…not?



Once upon a time this slowly growing elderly man, named Paul, glimpsed into the mirror and decided he did not appreciate the reflection of a balding grey haired droopy man standing before him. This suddenly prompted his compelled brain system to reintroduce his body to physical application in an attempt to regain a twinkle of youthful vigour, and maybe, just maybe he would have favourable looks from the gentle sex. . Swimming was the prominent thought as clean exercise, because the water took the weight no matter what shape or size, and he was a nifty skinny-dipper in his youth.

Next early morning, grabbing his swimming shorts (on reflexion, too old and slightly out of body proportion for speedo’ slim endurance trunks) and towels, and oft for the nearest venue which was Easterhouse sports complex, which strangely includes a library.

While undressing, to himself, he admitted he was no Mark Spitz, at any time…for a long time. Approaching the tiled area, a distinct odour arose from the swimming pool, which took him back to the old Olympic sized Coatbridge baths, where as a boy during summer holidays he played with mates and Ian Black (gold free style) trained for the games in Budapest. Paul curiously dipped his toe then plunged into the bluish water and began to swim as if the skill never left his ability. He swam some two three lengths, quite effortless and natural before he noticed the attendants being rather concerned about his unique strokes as loud blustering, coughing and spluttering out of breath.

Stopping for a short breather pretending to take in the ambiance of the surroundings, Paul was determined to make progress by kicking off another two spans of the pool but this time more like a fish out of water. Paul’s big mistake was at the deep end he tried to attempt another length, but his legs were like rubber and wobbled, forcing him to stop in deep water not quite able to touch the edge.

These employees of the pool, being true lifeguards, straddled-jumped in ….pulled poor old Paul out, onto his side and checked for foreign objects…as a matter of procedure.

Paul’s mind was groggily distorted through hazy recollection, one attendant, pronouncing the kiss of life was called under these circumstances. This is when everything nearly stopped with grunts and groins coming from the aquatic staff. There were long faces, followed by longer faces tragic shaking of heads followed by them decisively tossing a coin. It was obvious they felt Paul’s appearance did not warrant personal contact



Rather miffed, as Glaswegians can be sometimes be, Paul quickly picked up while one attendant helped him back to the dressing rooms, he smiled and said

‘O.K… John Wayne’. After such a compliment, Paul felt rather chuffed, being linked to the big western film star and inquired what made the assistant call him John Wayne. The reply brought Paul back to reality when the swimming instructor replied….’everybody in Hollywood knew he was growing bald as well!’ adding insult to injured pride…a lump of precious hair tugged out as he combed and dried his scalp with the drier provided.

No point in making a song and dance…. however his new found slender confidence in public took a dent. Swimming might not be Paul’s opening to the wide world keep fit club .

At a stroke… back to the quack?

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
peter.howden
New date..

His love for her was immortal, gauged by an indefinite timespan with no reason or excuse other than it was within his being, constantly creating moments of perfect love.. The next breath is the very breath which would signal the move closer. So close the inevitable kiss, so unavoidable for him to experience her rosy red lips which has haunted his dreams both day and night, stirring his sleep having every moment surmount total exhaustion. In reality she had broken their proven frail glass ball game…

But sadly for one who believed…as if the very next breath was the very breath which would be the one closer to the caress made heaven almost touchable…delivered by her amiable rosy lips bring into being, heaven’s air intoxicating fragrance mixing with his seductive pants…. forever as fate intended

Each night this allusion disturbed and stirred his sleep, as if by clockwork, and his love’s enchanting image haunted his days where ever he looked. . The smallest deliverance could vivacity his world beyond limits as he walked on a cushion mysterious to medical science.

He wished nothing more than to whisk her of her feet with his bold proud status man but feared the worse…he would not come up to scratch because lack of gravitas…with such youthful thoughts and deeds.

Still is weekly routine has him constructing an affectionate letter, full of passion, including an ancient poem, repeated time and time again in each articulated communication. A prompt for a meeting, on Saturday, at the once ‘Boots’ Corner’; a famous Glasgow corner for young romances first dates. He dresses with anxiety in his action and a feart to be late. Hail rain or snow, he stands there braving the weather until at last he confesses to himself…she will not come.

He returns to his lonely digs and begins the weekly cycle again seemingly hopelessly unaware he has lost the glass ball game…..she will never return....for she never existed?
peter.howden
Eye-catching

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder although I suppose it depends how we define beauty for ourselves rather than how we see it in others. I have meet some lovely people and quite a few stunners however very few stopped my breath or rang soundless decibels through my mind. I would say perhaps one or two, excluding dreams, even today I can still visualize to almost perfection, and at the drop of a hat.

Entering a club full of people enjoying themselves, I spotted this jaw drooping sensation... with feminine curves though the florescent lighting of the time had some small manner in the deception. This type of lighting was popular with clubs throughout and popular with male members because the luminous light heightens the dresses, skirts blouses and underwear of girls wearing white of any form.

On this occasion the dancing Madonna was wearing a tight white outfit and an obvious living bra. In contrast, the almost jet black hair floated effortlessly to the rhythm…occasionally dropping to the full length of the back.

The only weird thing about this incredible vision on high heels and tanned legs, not one soul was near. I tried to look unimpressed or possibly cool however failed miserably because I tripped over a hidden step and crashed onto the dance floor, in an undignified manner. Meanwhile the floating dream seemed to be concerned as I picked my limp body up, trying unsuccessfully to pretend I meant to tumble as part of my dancing steps.

The ceiling of this club was rather lower than normal, intensifying the fluorescent illuminations, complete with the sudden jolt onto the disco level must have slightly dazzled me, as I screwed up my eyesight to witness something was starting to look out of place for looking every inch feminine but the movements were out of place, as we sort of danced together. .

This was how I met David. At this time, his sexuality was in question by him and almost everyone who met him. He was genuinely a fine person who was experimenting with his sexuality but had no clue where, or how to place his feelings, his dress or his body. He was no mother’s boy but adored his mum. Even in the light of the interval he looked gorgeous. It may sound curious but we sort of hit it off as we became good friends for quite a long while before I lost contact with him.

The dressing up was experimentation trying to find his niche but did not come up to mark so shortly afterwards he reverted back to almost normal gear. He then arranged for an interview in ‘Granite House’ and I reckon this was a happy period in his life. The staff in this Trongate store treated him as one of the gang right from the start, almost family really. He tried his hand at window-dressing but proved to be crap at the art…lacking of all things… imagination

He left the store though we kept in touch, meeting at a pub in Hope Street called the 505, where all kinds of human being met up however it was notorious for being gay. It was certainly obvious now that David was a budding homosexual. Going into such a bar took a bit of bottle as the impression that gays are slap dash and easy going is far from the truth. If someone took a shine to him they drew daggers at me if I appeared on the scene, even worse when they mistakenly fancied me.



David was no longer the happy go lucky, baby faced, footloose and fancy free person from 'Granite |House' as his experiences had not only harder him but made him build a barrier between him and life. He had a lover who was a bum, pardon the pun but that is exactly what this low life was. The whole performance made it a sad story where latterly in his impressionable state, he met an old queen who used and abused him he felt he was one of those tragic ‘Victim’ figure’s



The last time I saw him he had not only aged but had hardened within which could be seen from his craggy disapproval manner. If he had dressed in a feminine custom once again, he would be an old hag with a boil on the nose, knitting and viewing Madame Guillotine at her worse. We arranged to meet up in the’ Crystal Bells’ at Glasgow Cross but he did not turn up……..or I did not recognize him. Just now and again I wonder where he is and if he is all right. I hope so;

peter.howden



The lazy Armadillo lizard



It was a usual very hot day in a south African unnamed desert where the family rock stood higher than high, as an advantage point for the occupiers safety enabling them to spot any raiders intent of an easy meal. This rock was the home for a 50 strong family of ‘Armadillo Lizards’ live in social groups …hide in rock cracks and crevices… with the main lookout, with swivelling exaggerated eyes, based on the highest point of their rock



Anyone in the family group would be easy meal for wandering or flying predator’s, if the security benefited vigilance which fifty pair of eyes gave was dropped even for a moment. The law of sheer survival on the rock was not to make a mistake either by accident or failure to do your duty.



This one selfish lethargic armadillo lizard just wanted to have forty winks and believed he could, due to 49 attentive pair of eyes behind him would take the brunt of security day watch without the need of his weary senses. The gommy spiny-tailed reptile with his yellow underbelly angled to sunbath, way out of sight from the rest of the attentive group



The elders of the family were shocked when the realized, by accident, that one of the group would so ignore such a compulsory diligent duty for the safety of all. There and then a decision was taken to teach such a scoundrel a moral lesson he would never forget for snoozing while all his comrades kept the industrious onus…for the advantage of the clan. One second they were all spread out on the rock…the next as in by holy magic…they disappeared from sight.



The plan was to wait concealed for 10 seconds…or so… then as an excited rabble…rush to the highest point and scare the hell out of the malingering slacker. Unfortunately 10 seconds may be a quick matter of fleeting moments for humans…but out in the wild almost barren desert…it will mean life or death.



Unfortunately in their haste not one eye caught sight of the flying predator swooping down with claws ready to claim the unworthy napping lizard. Within a flash…he was gobbled up



However; it did deter any other lizard…from sleeping while on duty again.......and with hard felt guilt.... no other lizards sneaked away.

-=-=-=-=-=-=
peter.howden


DEPRAVITY




I sit in the shadiest corner trying desperately not to be seen, or heard by anyone who might, by chance, be passing by. There was no getting away or avoiding the bare sinister facts, I have crossed the line of decent living and what could be accepted as civilized behaviour between one human being to another. It is little consolation now I disgust myself. No matter what the urge, or unnatural conduct, was running through my mind at the time, the law of decent morality dictates my onus?



How could I have contemplated such a flight of sickening elevation? How I wish I could be banished to the furthest corner of the universe, so to cleans my dirty psyche and reveal my utter sorrow for such a desperate regretful advances on something so sweet…so innocent. Only hours ago the sunshine was exceptional in all its magnificence, now eternal darkness can be my only hide.



Someone is bound to notice for time is against me. Is there anything else I can do to cover up my crime, though I think I have done everything possible to clear the evidence in the circumstances? Looking at every angle there is no way anyone casual going about their legitimate business can’t see the horrible signs of evil I stooped to. In my nervous state, after the feverish crazed attack, I just froze unable to take in how much a savage animal I had become. There is no salvation for my soul now, that is plain but should I confess or run and conceal myself from this wickedest of wicked deeds of horror.



It is true……the instant affair came on to me, akin to the infection of amour and beyond, but broke up on first physical contact. I should have ceased then but some uncontrollable urge prevented sense prevailing….hunger for such an attractive blameless thing became my most darken goal no matter the outcome This, I’m afraid is more than a misdemeanour



The clock takes its time counting the minutes yet I am safe for the moment in my recess furthest from the actual offence. The gloomiest hour is just about and there is no vision of a brand new dawn. Perhaps I can find courage and at least be a man and accept my lust for stripping bare my want. It may sound callous after what has taken place in this shared abode but I thought it would satisfy my craving however it has not. Is there no end to this torment?



Oh God…I hear a noise from upstairs and my dark heart starts to strike. I hear a door slowly creaking open in an obvious attempt to disguise the fact someone or something is afoot. Oh God the footsteps have past the head staircase and now are slowly making progress down the stairs.



What can I do? Where can I go? Why did I do this terrible thing? I want my mummy……The door to where I am, slowly creaked ajar and a hand creeps forward for the light.



Quick…I need to decide if to stand and confess or take action so they will never breathe a word of my crime. Will I jump this invader and pin them against the wall and break down and make a clean breast of my sordid behaviour.





To late…the light is switched on and now all hell will let loose and there is no going back….the familiar voice of ‘She who must be obeyed’….called out in instant distress …. “Hey who’s eaten all the chocolate cake I made for the special event tomorrow?

-=-=-=
peter.howden
The lady of the laundry

If any Glaswegian, or for that matter… any Scottish person, has not seen the gritty home humour throughout the play ‘the Steamie’, set in the early sixties, I would be quite surprised because it has become an institute since first preformed. All the characters were tip-top acting throughout the scenes…but one special actress ‘Sheila Donald’ as the old housewife, with plenty of spunk, Mrs. Culfeathers…a incomparable lady with genuine dignity.

The story starts in a undisclosed wash-house, surrounded the raw hardships of pram pushing woman, full of the weekly laundry, in the areas where such establishments were situated…and how they coped with what their harsh life threw at them.

In a real washhouse, named as a laundrette for convenience, a delicate framed elderly lady entered the establishment bang on 6 of the evening clock during a week, washing, drying, ironing and folding a bundle of washing which took several hours to complete. Her clothing was of good quality but aged as she quietly continued her duty. During the few times when she had little or nothing to do, she would blether with the assistant.

In a mellow well-spoken voice she informed him, she worked as a cleaner in several banks first thing each and every morning and a hotel later on …while in the afternoon for tenants in Wally close stairways… and of course the washings…each wash was for a different client earning a few coins for her savings. Her delicate frame

The purpose of her grit and determination in working almost every moment of the day was to see her independent son through law school and university. Her eyes lit up with striking reflexions of fondness of remembered moments only a mother could show with dignified proudness beyond scope as she softly uttered….he is on his sixth year and one to go when he will pass the stressful exams for good.

Absolute pride blossomed radiantly each time she mentioned his name as her cheeks developed an instant smile spreading instantly complete contentment in her thoughts of her son. She continued ‘He stays in the high flats, but will by a house once he becomes successful’..

She would then diligently load her old Churchill Pram with assistance from the attendant helping her down the few steps to the pavement outside whatever the weather was. With a kindly ‘thank you’, she crossed the busy road, past the local pub…. and disappeared into the night.

The attendant could not tell her…he knew her son well right from school. To the attendant’s memory of her son…he was and always would be wrought as a loafer…a liar and lout whose academic achievement was leaving school without being expelled. He never was any part of university Strathclyde, or any other, and his chosen career was propping up the bar of the pub she passes, unknowingly almost each and every night.

The attendant knew her son was abusing her hard earned money…but it would break her heart…and dignity of spirit…. if he told her the truth.

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peter.howden
Home Spun Stories

WANNER



With a pair of uncontrollable shaking hands belonging to the small dismal statue of a man who hesitatingly move forward towards the grubby handle in preparation to open a door. There was no need in him guessing what was behind its shabby appearance…for he has witnessed the secret so many times… in such a short period of time. He may know what the door conceals from view, but has little or no concept how long it’s precious cargo has been hidden



In front of the door, held on with a couple or rusty screws inserted in the ill painted woodwork of the frame… is a mirror of sorts. The dirty edges are discoloured completely around the rim as if rust marks and foreign specks roam around the actual plate reflection freely of the glass. Even being near it has to take great concentrations as to what this mirror can hold in images… as it is past its sell by date in true replication. Better days have come and gone for in background of the tedious wee man, is dirt or clamour all over what dimly passes an inhabitable chamber.



The walls original wallpaper no longer intact exists, as in its place are just strips mingled in with holes and some kind of yellowish paste. A calendar showing dates around 19 hundred and something, displaying a naff picture of a car and a girl in all our yesterday’s style is dog-eared and tatty. A couple of old hooks for picture frames hang on.



Mould of different calibres meets the partition and the so-called table and sideboard was previous whipped over on the last Coronation day. The place in simple terms is a dump but the man does not see it so.



In his mind, he pleads lonely and this is why he is heading for the door. He stops for a moment and appears to argue with himself. Seconds later, his hand is on the well-worn knob precariously suspended downward. The door creeks open to reveal the ultimate prize just sitting there on the dusty shelf…around eye-level. The treasure itself is his holy grail and salvation all rolled into one.



Six cans of Carlsberg special….once known in Glasgow as limb icebreakers. The very first sip is actually putrid to his lips but once swallowed he is the slave to the liquid master.



His eyes resembling two pee holes in the snow… gloat over the remaining haul. The hands do not shake anymore as he gentle takes out his booty and places them gently on the manky table.



He has no idea what day it is though when his giro day arrives, he is always waiting for the mail carrier that gives him the influence and readies to attend the prodigious country club. Run by men of the same calibre and for sozzled loonies with no hope (well-oiled fellows) for communal drunkenness. So what if any can to drink first. Is it possible he span them out for the whole day…for it has been done before….not often his muddled mind reasons



Moments later he has swallowed not only the first can but almost finished the second. His destination is to be blootered,(fu) and he is an expert. Ten minutes later not a sound, other than creaks from a moaning abode, can be heard coming from the grim depraved room…lying where he landed is the crumpled body of one manky body that used to be human.



For him he will never be free…of the alcohol quicksand.



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peter.howden
My Almanac Three; 02/10/2015

I was listening to Bob Dylan sing or crocking “The times are a ‘changing”, the song starting his mould of home spun philosophy for the young while the old looked on in silence in some sort of bewildered. Now I am much older, looking on at the young perhaps not muddled but slightly amused as the fledglings make their mark… similar to the young generation of yesterday.

No one likes change, apart from the young who would change to anything just to change and be prickly with the old…as they should believe they are the future. I reckon it has been an unspoken tradition since man started to walk in all two’s.

I do believe its bundles of myths we grow wiser as we grow older because our minds are set when we are very young indeed. I personally make the silliest mistakes the older I become and the only difference from my years is I am more ready to admit my foolishness

However somewhere along the line, we collect useless baggage complete with phobias of all descriptions and biasness, sometimes willing and sometimes unknown but we do with some degree of foregone conclusion.

For me the one thing is certain…there is always uncertainty of the future being known as the unknown to react or prepare…when suitable and appropriate …what is normal or conceived to be normal. The up and coming young generation attempt to break down dusty traditions as they have a new horizon and holy grail….which is the same as the last horizon seen through virgin eyes. The old hang on to tradition….in hope of safety having not to change.

Tomorrow is our; ‘She who must be obeyed’ and my self’s…. 46th wedding anniversary, a personal tradition of our own. Although when we married we had visions of growing old together but never in our wildest dreams did we guess what lay ahead. We have, and do love each other which has matured throughout the years…different but just as strong for I miss Rebecca when she is not there but always in my mind. My only question to my bride is how she managed to accept all my faults without laughing out loud or making my position redundant. I can only say with authenticity…I am lucky.

One thing which has become a tradition is Aunt Becky’s wee hurls in my old carriage jalopy around Strathblane and the Kilpatrick hills. For Becky it could be anywhere however she takes great delight, singing along to traditional Scottish songs, tapping her feet to the pipes and accordion while chucking through the hills, and countryside, abundant with trees and greenery which supports walking lamb chops, cattle and many a horse. I certainly have noticed it is also a soothing drug for me as each trip while returning home I feel relaxed almost ready for anything….now that is a tradition worth having.
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peter.howden
Home Spun Stories....

Dance Date


She magnified serenade charm with natural fertility, complete with charitable elegance of a swan languorously circumnavigating a peaceful pond, as she glided around the dance hall for slightly more mature people. She had such inner beauty oozing out her perfectly trim frame and her smile could dim the spot lights often focused on her. In other words she was the bell of any ball, a honey queen bee.

He tortuously looked on enviously on her privileged partner as they cascaded effortlessly whirling and swirled with refinement, almost poetry in motion. Since joining the club several weeks ago, his aching heart pinned for the only lady he had sought with passionately desire, but because of his lack of dancing technique, he was regulated to being a solitary wallflower, second class. He had asked her once, if he take her hand and accompany her to the dance floor. With polite distaste, she motioned to her dance card and without a word spoken, dismissed him outright.

Deciding this would not happen again the next time he entered the mixed crowded hall, he would have mastered the waltz, which up to now deluded his efforts but, on his return, would equally enhance her performance.

‘The one problem you have’ said the small French dancing instructor he was paying a small fortune to teach him the rudiments,’ is your un-natural rhythm and your two left feet if I’m being blunt ;, sorry honest’. His face collapsed as he could see his dream disappear with those short sharp words. Just as instant hopelessness took hold his wee tutor came up with a strategy, more for the money than for the pupil.

Acting in accord of an army ‘Percer le sergent (drill sergeant),we will concentrate and I will drill you night and day until instinctively you can perform in your sleep exactly as taught this waltz. Remember though this will be the only steps you can do imitating a dance .

For ten solid days nearly without sleep of sustenance, they devoted the hours god gave to this one goal. Perspiration flowed freely and bone throbbing was constant along with utter tiredness, the cost but he knew it would be worth every second, just to be able to have her arms around him. Tortuously it carried on without a break, until at last his waltz footwork would be parable to the all-time great Scottish debonair man-about-town Jack Buchannan. His victory was within his grasp.

He appeared as if by magic, dressed in top hat and tails with the all-important white gloves for that all important dash of elegance personified, to the utter astonishment of the throng of the hall. Before the very first note of music was struck, he slid across the empty floor and bowed in front of his exquisite quarry. He uttered the very words he had dreamed and pinned for the confidence for so long, ‘Can I have the honour to escort you to the dance floor for the first waltz’.



Suddenly he could see smirks coming from the viewing peoples around and that the lady of his wanting looked surprised at first but showed shadows of near contempt posturing from her lips before she spoke. ‘Are you an ignoramus imbecile dressed up Jessie?’ she bawled out as if intended t for all to hear, as she followed with a verbal spear to his innocent heart; ‘This is the Latin season and the Buenos Aires Tango is the dance we dance!’ She could have been kinder but her true nature surfaced for all to witness. .

To seek sanctuary , he reached for the stars and now came crashing back to the bare earth………………………he crept away in silence though some say they heard………tear-jerking pitiful sobbing.

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