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peter.howden
Anecdotes from the auld Steamie

Now you see it, now you don’t

In almost all the major cities around Scotland, within the manual workers districts, stood imposing Victoria buildings housing essential local amenities, such as Swimming pool/baths and the much used ‘Steamie’ all usually run from two massive boilers. The staffs’ day to day activities were run my supervisors, who in turn took orders from area superintendents.

One such superintendent stood out from the rest, having been promoted via the working floor. This meant he knew the ropes inside out…any skive or Buckie’s (buckshee washings). His nickname was Captain Kirker…he also went where no man had gone before.

In one such heavy engineering city, its needs were many such service buildings and within two districts, Captain Kirk could be seen, usually weighed down with silver in his pockets, entering the nearby hosiery for a slight refreshment. It was simply one Steamie’s dryers took shillings, and the other two bob bits. The offices of both centres, had the dryers keys and a wooden bowl to collect the said monies, then for him to retire to the ticket office, for the cashiers to tally.

Slowly moving along the drying area, emptying all by putting one driers coins in the bowl, then one in his jacket pocket for him. It was a regular occurrence and what could be done, he was the boss. Captain Kirker treated staff well, never asked you to do something he had never done or roll his sleeves with the lads. Others tended to treat the workforce as personal skivvies.

One such area superintendent, his name is lost in ancient time, used one worker as a whipping boy for a couple of months, sending the unlucky person, down to the shops, or anywhere at the drop of a hat, rain, or snow, to buy a made-up sandwich, furious if the staff brought back the wrong filling. Throughout a bitter blizzard period, when this superintendent, decided to send Ben-gunn. Three or four times later, while never getting it right, and paying extra, he moved his attention on to someone else. He could never accept, people doing so menial jobs would have any brains to act stupid.

After terrible storms affecting most of Scotland, tragic damaged, and flooding of houses throughout one metropolitan, demanded urgent action as several buildings were chosen for round the clock working. The carpets were brought to Ben-Gunn’s ‘Steamie’s’ in a desperate hope to dry them out. !2 hours shift, day, and night, lasted around 8 weeks. Every Saturday only, the public were allowed in to do weekly washings, making it a treble shift for the workers.

One Saturday morning, Captain Kirker informed all he would be on duty that night, bunged a few pounds into Ben’s hand, with instruct to buy a bottle of whisky, following it with a demand to have money for cards. In the carpet shift, you only worked bloody hard for a solid hour or so, putting wet carpets all over the place, to fume. Once done, nothing happened for around four hours while extreme heating did its bit.

The workforce retired to the cashiers’ box (known as money takers) at least it had air condition. Captain Kirker had worked just as hard as the chosen staff did, now insisted to see the alcohol and the lose cash for the card. John, tam the bam, Gay Bob put theirs on the table while Ben-Gunn took the drier keys and headed out. Captain Kirker was so intrigued, he opened eyed followed Ben straight to dryers, and a machine he stored money in earlier on in the public shift that had not been observed by anyone else. Opening the box with the special keys, emptied the contents into his pocket.

Captain Kirker asked what the hell was he doing? he replied, “Training to be a superintendent?”
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peter.howden
Anecdotes from the auld Steamie


Gratuitous Booty

Throughout one metropolitan, the halls of power, who apparently thought they ran such Victorian buildings housing, Swimming pools, hot baths, the much loved local ‘Steamie’, decide to integrate academy and university leavers, into the management structure. Such candidates may be educated in the theory; however, their practical skills, or common sense, was not up to scratch.

Superintendent Captain Kirker, who came up through the ranks, had a nose for ill-discipline, whereas Shift supervisor Andy Pandy, concept collage educated, was easily distracted because he was a fanatical Rangers football club supporter. All Humphrey, the Steamie attendant had to do, was quote the old joke, ‘Rangers won the coin toss…and did the lap of honour’ sent Andy into a sulk, storming off not to surface for some time. Humphrey was a frustrated amateur entrepreneur…with a knack.

One such harried health/care worker, due to work schedule, would dash into the Victorian building, on a Friday at five forty precisely wishing to be complete and out for quarter to seven without fail. Humphrey decided to start an express service. he told the health worker to leave it all up to him. The fact her spick and span cloth just received a hint of water, her washing was dried and pressed for her arrival

She once asked about his family, for she was under the impression he three children were tots, so began the strange gratitude payment from the lady, becoming much more as time passed by.

When young mums left the hospital with their babies, they were issued with a bag full of wee bottles of containing orange juice, cod liver oil, talcum powder, baby cream, soft tasting yeast for mum and baby, for mum only was two thin sanitary towels.

The health lady began to give one or two of these precious cargos, as a kind gesture and reward, however, after a short period, no pun intended, it multiplied to receiving six, seven and eight bags at a time.

Humphrey would leave the excess sanitary towels in his locker. It took no time at all for the locker to be overrun by these ladies’ personal items, so action had to be taken. No-one could be found who would want them, until Scooter, the other wash house attendant, expressed an interest, and sure enough took the lot. Scooter stayed with his German Shepard mutt in a caravan, on a country road outside the city, and Humphrey’s mind boggle what Scooter would do with so many clinical items.

He was known as being a right miserable miser, nothing gratis was his motto. If he dropped a half/dollar (half a crown), he would crack his head on the floor catching the dropping coin.
Three weeks later, near Christmas on a frozen wintery day. the very question was answered and witnessed.

Scooter had slept in that morning, rushing his mutt into his car, starts up and moves swiftly down he country lane, still with his slippers on his feet. Once in the work, hastily changing into works gear, one slipper slipped off…and what fell out? was a singular slim sanitary towel including the original string.

Scooter was using them as foot pads and warmers.
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peter.howden
IM; 20;

Jim stepped down from the train, unaware when his weary foot touched the actual platform, what instantly occurred defied all logic, or physics, all common sense, however the plain truth of the matter was, it did happen. The Pullman, the track, the platform, the very structure he was standing on, just vanished. Not only from sight but from existence. Jim’s courage spiralled uncontrollably, galloping in all direction, pulling on unknown disturbed nerves, causing a vice grip of basic fear to take hold.

Forcibly closing his eyes, rationally considering being amid a cavorted reverie, then opening his eyes, a floating sensation nonetheless seeing nothing whatsoever… challenging all possibilities where he was. Instinctively aware escape was impossible, asking himself if this was a colossal hallucination of nightmarish proportions, distorting reality. Neither was true, sensing he was hanging in a mysterious limbo void, without notion of time, until his drifting awareness, a caretaker crosses the threshold of his mind, in primitive manner of speech and vision. Jim was no scholar, but surprisingly understand the spirituality of the information filtering through his brain. Jim’s fascination, now automatically switching off his alarm button, eradicating any apprehensiveness…the lecture began with visions and commentary

The history of the earth moved forward from erratic beginnings in grass roots, through multiple epochs onward display, famine, wars, and starvation. Pitiful sights of indescribable misery caused by humanoid eco footprints, stamping indiscreetly, by human greed, no matter the era displayed. Each stage of hypothetical civilization was no better than the previous. Jim concluded without question, there was a concierge of sorts, controlling everything within the known universe, cosmoses far beyond, and the soups of aethers of indefinite makeup, mere man could never understand in a million years. Jim could see it all.

One fact was common, this surreal encounter was man’s cockiness of being supreme. It was obvious humans assumed themselves above natures laws…and little else other than destined for higher things. Jim supposed perhaps humanity was just an accident, in millions of accidents taking place every day, never mind throughout eras. If the ice had not reflected light, or the atmosphere had change minutely, humans would not have existed, yet… he concluded the caretaker had made it so, but his purpose eluded him. Earth could be the cancerous spinning cell of the creation’s D.N.A.

Finally, the information slowed down as Jim was left to contemplate all he had observed. He had a glimpse of an idea something of real importance was just about to come. A deep intuition dramatically bubbled just beneath his concept, though it was perfectly plain it existed. Was this the answer why he was there, wherever ‘there’ was …or was ‘there’ everywhere… who could tell. Certainly not Jim as his curiosity strengthens himself to listen.

The brutal message from a voice… simply the clockwise dream of immortality, a feeble attempt to pick the correct gene, doom becomes a certainly. Genetic chemical mutagenesis will swiftly take over the natural selection, having sex suffocate human beings because man has experimented to eradicate mutation to point changing codes of D.N.A for everlasting existence, futilely unlocking rare secrets of aging.

Uncontrollable somatic regenerations will invade all bodies and species throughout the world, until nothing breathing will survive… becoming the destroyer…not the creator. Genetic chemical mutagenesis will reproduce at such an alarming rate, it will be impossible for it, or all other life, repair and reproduce anything, even bacteria. Death of the planet will be only a matter of limited time.

This was not the first time, as eight empty planets are silent witnesses within trillion of planets amongst many galaxies, with the caretaker benign part of it all. All started so promisingly, as all creatures had a purpose and all life was a gift. Every attempt was dwarfed by mankind’s intervention with such limitation however with great expectations invalid to his capabilities. Time after time, the caretaker picked up the pieces, start again though Jim did not know the caretaker’s motivation.

Unexpectedly, now alone on a noiseless stairway leading to the station, as the Pullman was just about to pull away, Jim robotically racing, then boarding the moving locomotive.

Jim was left in no doubt the caretaker had decided this was the last time to interfere, and if there was no action was taken, leading to total oblivion… then so be it. Was the caretaker the Divinity the religious people talk about, having over the past many millenniums… attempted to rescue humanity… or was this just an illusion… who knows?
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peter.howden
The Challenge

Stewart changed his name, by deed poll, to Paul, costing £40, due to his admiration of screen idol Paul Newman, particularly in the film ‘Cool Hand Luke’ having watched repeatedly at the drop of a hat. Stewart, now Paul, became obsessed by the egg competition, displayed so photographically in the movie. After arguing with himself, decided to take up this 50 eggs challenge. Realizing exercise was paramount to train for this epic happening, plus progressively building up by taking 3/4 eggs to start with, then add several more at each sitting, until ready willing and able to consume such a magnificent quantity at the all-important contest

Stewart, now legally Paul, was warned by concerned friends, of the danger eating such amounts of eggs, particularly in one go. In theory, it is believed, but not proven, such behaviour can lead to heart ailments, serious diabetes, cholesterol, salmonella, but all these warnings, was to Paul, like water of a duck’s back as he was determined to achieve his eggy goal.

Over the next few weeks, a determined regime was set in place, as his fitness improved way beyond expectations, while feasting of eggs increased in each sitting. His system was simple, choosing the amount of eggs, boiling them for eight minutes, cracking then shelling them clean at the table. Start the stop watch and begin. Afterwards taking a brisk walk, some three or four hours, which was really demanded by anyone in the flat at the time because of the constant pimping releasing gases.

Feeling confident of success, he picked a day for his colossal illustrious event, and when the day came, he prepared everything by himself, on the theory he was the best person not to make a mistake looking after all the intricate procedures. The great day was here and Stewart, now Paul started of well, looking ever inch a winner who would ‘swally the hail lot’ with the ease of a champion.

Then… without warning, he began to violently choke, fighting for breath, almost turning blue. Luckily there was a bonny nurse in the selected audience who immediately weighed up the situation and applied the ‘Heimlich manoeuvre’…saving the moment…but not the hour

The culprit forcing an unwanted assault on his gullet was a piece of egg shell.

Unfortunately, the newly named Paul did not know the amount of 50 eggs, was just a starter for Joey Chestnut in 2013, when as a competitive eater, swallowed his way to the world record, scoffing 141 boiled eggs in eight minutes. Joey probably suffered 36 hours of gastric distress, with hydrogen sulphide gas he ever experienced. Farting is the common word for such actions, however perhaps he did not possess the same panache as the film star.
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peter.howden
At the kitchen window

Looking out of our kitchen window, an ambulance with flashing lights aplenty, obviously in an emergency run, hurtling along Edinburgh road towards the royal infirmary. The scene is like watching a silent movie unfold, as no sound, not one decibel penetrates through the double glazing of our cosy home. In the garden is one off the local cats, practicing hunting methods as most cats do, yet the birds seemingly taking the micky, fliting from branch to branch, just out of reach when the poor hopeful mouser makes ready to strike.

While idle minded, gaping out the window, another scullery window emerges in my thoughts, almost as if I was there, giving away its past secrets, being the only source of daylight beaming through our single end in Toryglen street, back in 1969. We were just wed when taking the top story of a close facing an industrial estate in Oatlands. There was the football ground just across the road, and due to being so high up, we could see over the surround security fence, the greenery of the pitch, the only such foliage in the engineering area until Richmond park.

Inside this one room accommodation with an extremely wee so-called hall, it could be cosy if the coal fire was constantly blazing, because the sash window rattled while the wind intruded making the centre single bulb swing back and forth, creating shadows scurrying around corners, especially during winter nights. Any passing hubbub in the street was heard without trying. A Friday/ Saturday night being the climax, punters coming and going along our street leading to the local pub. Being newlywed…this did not really bother us

Unconsciously mused away to another memory of standing at a kitchenette window, in Toni and Fergus flat some years back. They both worked as trouble shooters, for European companies, in the Netherlands, Leiden, Amsterdam, then in Paris France, wishing their processers to have new complicated programmes installed. We were so fortunately, staying in any of their accommodations, when they chose to holiday somewhere in the world.

Leiden was somehow special to both of us, as we spent a smashing weekend, with them, before the flew off into the blue horizon. The memory I have at the sink window, was a well-furnished book store across the forecourt, with a large sign printed; ‘Pilgrim Fathers Leiden 1620’ The shop’s name deluded me… standing there for ages, attempting to work my mouth around the impossible title… as I could not even pronounce

These reminiscences of Toni are not so hurtful as in the recent past, nevertheless do catch Rebecca and I in different ways, producing images we would prefer not to see as they prod deep into depths unknown. However, a more favourably light is coming from Toni’s own personal window memories… and now and again… produce a proud smile from me…even through moist eyes
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peter.howden
My Chronicles 26/032018

The Three Musketeers

Last week a smashing farewell lunch was held for Michael, director of our housing association for 18years, who became a personal confidant as we confided in each other throughout the years of his service. I liked him… from when he first gave me a strong handshake saying hallo. He proved to be an honourable man of good character. His accomplishments were ‘Sure and Steadfast’, working always to the best of his ability…for the community, the staff, but particularly for the committee. I felt fortunate to have been the chair of the organization during part of this period…

A slight emotion personal goodbye …but again, lucky for me I have his contact through this fantastic creation called the ‘Internet.

Another gentleman I am so grateful to call a friend, having contact via cyberspace, is Keith, his lovely Elizabeth, and their generous amiable family. I first met Keith, when he was hired to be a consultant directing Calvay the way forward. They both moved ‘lock stock and barrel’ in 2003 from Biggar Scotland, to aa hamlet, near Carcassonne, France. His idea was simply to work hard, travel throughout for so many months, retreating into the hills of this almost idyllic medieval Cather’s village, to rest his weary bones eventually to retire. Unfortunately, there dreams faded with the aid of fate and political turmoil

One heck of a blow to give to anyone, but defiantly for such an enterprising academic person, with panache. Over the years, somehow, I became a yearly fixture, generously invited into their home, after visiting various places in France. Grand company, superb food, beer on tap…and they did my washing… I have such happy memories…pure dead brilliant. Now due to circumstances beyond their control, due to the foolish Government’s ungainly Brexit confrontations, they have decided to return, not to Biggar but a new experience near family

Knowing Keith’s inbuilt determination and fortitude, things will be fine…. but I’m glad of the incredible internet highway

Last but by no means least, is my China Jim, Ayr resident. With Jim, Michael, and Keith, I’m completely opposite to their traits, for all three are organized, knowing where they wish to be at a given time. Jim having an uncanny knack with radical rhetoric, a retired devout labour party theologist.

His knowledge of Scottish politics is phenomenal, although our almost monthly meetings, usually held in Witherspoons tavern, is based on talking rubbish and laughing at boloney

On my side I have a kangaroo mind, inconsistently jumping from one theme to another, coated in ridicules…yet these connections are a safety value…much appreciated. Right through my life, I fortuity had good companions…and it appears my luck is enduring
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peter.howden
WEST HIGHLAND WAY, PART ONE;

Ben and Salty


Ben’s years were gathering behind him, having no clue if men turn a certain corner, starting to do silly things, to prove they can take whatever life throws at them, answering anything confusing or enormous dilemmas for humankind. Unknown to him, his little grey cells were working overtime, primarily struggling through what the boffins call the male version of ‘Menopause’…or just taking leave of his senses, transferring fear to his overloaded brain.

Whilst growing older, men sometimes have more pathetic attempts to verify, testing he still has what it takes, and take’s it in fine mettle, possibly as strong as an ox, or in Ben’s case, one with a slight limp and a taste in ballet. Such tests have an inexhaustible supply. Frank Sinatra did ‘his way’ though reputedly never liked the song. Whizzing past fifty, Ben wanted a physical way to show how he not only survived the first half century but in reasonable condition to meet the second half
Salty was a fair bit younger, still in the late flourish of youth, having seen more of the world via its oceans and ports. They both enjoyed a slight refreshment…and craic, with a hint of male bravado atmosphere slipping through the air..

With Ben’s insistence, they often spoke about saunters around rugged trails of bonnie Scotland, with abundant rough terrains to choose from, in different scales of effort to succeed. This elevated Scotland far above most countries, perfect suited for the manly appetite to bear nature and come out smiling. Once, while fortuitously patronizing within a Saltcoats tavern, their commanding window facing Arran’s magnificent mountain range spiralling across the horizon, planted an acorn for an adventurous ascend up the compelling impressive ‘Goat-fell’

The great date arrived for the trip over by early ferry from Ardrossan (Gaelic Àird Rosain, "headland of the deer’). Ben and Salty rucksacks contained spare socks and jumpers, chocolate, water, flask, and a geographical map. A crisp morning to dauner towards Corrie village, with a happy step arriving ready to start the craggy trail to the summit.

It was quite a haul for Ben’s stride, tackling the range of dissimilar problematic terrain, scrambling slowly towards his daydream. The truth of the matter was, without Salty, Ben would possibly not reach his goal. Sadly, a very cold mist suddenly came down on the summit as they arrived at the peak of Goat-Fell itself, but it did not dampen their exhilarated mood, relying on the geographic map to point to where North Goat Fell stood.

What amazed the two comrades while taking the cosy footpath down from the range, how people climbing the path were so inefficiently dressed, and no provisions. One girl wore high-heels…absolutely nuts in the opinion of a couple of knackered, but ecstatic, eccentric walkers.

Once in Brodick, then on the ferry, arriving Salty’s accommodation, swallowed a few drams, taking turns to shower and the leisurely sip a few more drams. It was then Ben dropped a bombshell…by proposing …’Now what about the West Highland way?’
-=-=-=-=
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peter.howden
WEST HIGHLAND WAY, PART TWO;

The need;
Being a game bloke, Salty became quite interested as the banter waffled while various sips of the water of life’s golden nectar, any true Scot would drink. Salty being of catholic taste, was sipping white rum, reputed to be from Cuba, which may have influence him to be a little snide referring scornfully to Ben’s abilities and physique, the way only a good china has the absolute right. The repartee of one-upmanship strolled carefreely into the night, to a point of complete silliness.

The next daybreak, both awoke to find the usually tidy abode, in a slight gurdle with bottles and glasses all over the place. Both had slightly hazed recall of the previous night’s events, however what did predominantly remain…the rash challenge of the West Highland Way. After the zombie period had past, Salty, with a concerned voice, hinted how Ben was not quite up to scratch, for such an adventure. Ben retorted, “How come naw”, insisting he was just a smidgen off-peak…and with a wee saunter or two, he could match step for step, stride by stride, with the best of them.

Probably with daft obstinacy, Ben began training with a stroll from the Larg’s road, along the moors over Baidland Hill to Dalry. The following week, a dauner leaving Largs to Saltcoats, and finding himself not too knackered at the end. With such endeavours safely under his belt, with a hint of over cockiness, suggested how Salty and he could trek from Glasgow to Saltcoats. The response was not quite sunshine, “That’s a belter, you can raffle my doughnut” Salty retorted, swiftly adding, “you think I will spend my next leave prancing about like a bloody Lonnie” leaving muttering something about a bampot halfwit.

Several weeks later Ben had managed to persuade, super fit, swift Mick along for company. Full of enthusiasm, the team set out early, setting a cracking pace, though several miles on, there were signs of physique weariness starting to take a grip mainly due to the conquering wind against them, but it was the drizzly rain being bloody awful to say the least. Half way there, as the painstaking miles slowly went by, Ben had to search for hidden resolve. Call it foolhardy but he was determined not to display weariness in any manner or form and he certainly was not going to let Salty have the last laugh.

Three quarters of the 28 miles almost completed, still pissing (A Glasga term for rain) down, a voice bellowed across the rough terrain, “your honkin…and knackered, bet you wish you were at hame!” Ben turned around, wiping the rain from his eyes, but smirking shouting back, “don’t know what you are gloating about Salty…you didn’t want to come in the first place”.

The magnificent three arrived, relatively unscathed, drenched, victorious, and droothy for the merited pints…or two. The big test completed and now for the ‘West Highland Way’
-=-=-=-=-=-=-
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peter.howden
WEST HIGHLAND WAY, PART Three;

The Gauntlet

Ben was not a fan of walking even for simple constitutional reasons, not since the B.B camps of his youth, however, such a schlep triumph, taking just 7 hours, ignited a buried desire. Sudden success can lead to certain misfortunes in the head department, which either he was not aware of… or chose to flout it.

When talking to friends about the forthcoming tramping excursion, several remarks as to the time it should take, with quotes how some dedicated teams walked the into Fort William after 3 days, the navy finished the ordeal in two days, and a specialized commando outfit accomplished this in 36 hours. Ben stood up to the mark, uttering for all to hear, “Salty and I will finish on the 4th day” concealing a slyness in his voice

Boasting the ability to complete the ‘Highland Way’ in 4 days was rather a tad confident, if not ludicrous on plain paper…but in his mixed-up mind, dancing with the gods, or eejit ghosts pretending to be real… anything was perfectly feasible. What Salty thought or spluttered out of this bragging act…is certainly not printable.

First thing on the sunny morning of the momentous day in Milingavie, Ben and Salty posed aside the stone obelisk for a historic photograph of two proud adventurers. Ben insisted to aim for Rowardennan, on the first day, because it was roughly the same mileage as the previous trek triumph. Salty shrugged his shoulders.

Setting a cracking pace then easing passing the Craigallan Loch, then stand perfectly still to witness one of the wonders of nature, a majestic osprey, with such grace and seemingly effortlessness, glide to the water surface, catching a fish on its talon, flying off way into the early blue sky…and beyond.

Restarting with a fine stride, only slowed when crossing the A81, heading for Conic hill, reaching the top to witness the Loch Lomond, in all unbelievable splendour no picture can quite capture … without warning… disaster struck.[/size][size="3"]
peter.howden

WEST HIGHLAND WAY, PART Four;


The Bill

Ben surely do not think he was a prancing peacock, or indeed vain in any manner, however his challenging behaviour was leaving him wide open to be a clucking duck. Salty was not of the age for going through man’s mind boggling gung-ho enigma, which was compelling Ben proving he still had what it takes…unfortunately no one knows what it does take… but certainly not multiple advancing years.

It was such a braw morning, with a grand view when Ben felt a tinge of pins and needles, then electric waves though my veins… every muscle exploding down his left leg, followed rapidly being almost totally immobilized, because the bloody pain was nearly past Ben’s threshold His natural limp adding to the now locked throbbing left leg, gave the illusion of a bandy cowhand, launched and dismounted by a demented horse…or cursed by old fashioned terrible rickets,

Salty suggested making their way to ‘Buchanan Arms hotel’ in Drymen, take a hot bath to see if it helps. The hotel was hosting a special ‘Murder Weekend’, with only room available, very costly. By this time, Ben was past caring however, however struggling upstairs to reach salvation’s doorway of this pricy refuge, took the decisive toll…Ben made the only decision left… to end the challenge. Salty took a shower, then departed on his single adventure…Ben being depleted, phoned his missus, pleading for her to drive to the hotel and collect this wreak of a soul.

Alone waiting, Ben thought a thought while thinking, but on reflection, may have been counterproductive. He calculated how a wee half would sooth the pain, so made his clumsy way, to the small but amply supplied snug bar. He met a French traveller enjoying the Scottish scene, began to converse in stuttering French small talk. Luckily his new companion could speak well in English as a few hours passed with both sharing refreshments

Ben’s wife arrived, anxious for his wellbeing, only to find him rather rosy, disappointing her motherly instincts…and it showed. She decided nourishment would help her husband to recuperate, but due to the surrounding stramash, caused by the ‘Murder Weekend’ activities, dinning in the security of the hotel was not an option. For a moment, ’Murder weekend’ was a tempting offer, she thought.

They slowly made their way to a small café, at the crossroads, ordered soup which quickly came. Unfortunately, both bowls were microwave unsupervised, as soon as Ben swallowed the first spoonful…it burnt his throat quite severely. they scuffled back to the hotel.

Now with a burnt gullet and a painful leg, Ben fell asleep with the help of the liquid medicine consumed earlier. Waking next morning tip-top, his wife grumbled she had little sleep due to the very loud Ceilidh activities causing vibrations in the room way after 3 A.M. When She mentioned to the reception the same, before going in for breakfast, he smugly asked, “did you request a quiet room?” Silly billy.

After enjoying a smashing breakfast, Ben entered the lobby to have a quiet word with manager, who now consented that the total bill for the night stay and morning breakfast for two…. would be pepper-corn £5.

The hotel is now under the umbrella of ‘Best Western’…. Amply named
peter.howden
My Chronicles 11/04/2018

It is astonishing how little I know the older I progress in years, how noticeable the lack of knowledge is, especially apparent in the Radio Times programme magazine quizzes we hold around the family kitchen table during a Saturday afternoon. What I do know is my memory is not starting to fail me, it has been diminishing for some considerable time. It seems what I was taught is slipping rapidly away, and what I did not, or could not absorb, is immense.

My memory is now a mixed bag of losing keys, gloves, tickets, bank cards and the like…. putting things somewhere safe, being absentminded, having no clue where I have my cache. When I lived in digs, many moons ago, I kept a certain amount of loot in my shoes, which if I forgot this folded bundle, the discomfort reminded me, now I’m spoilt for choice for places to choose from.

I do update ‘She who must be obeyed’ at the time, unfortunately my beloved is now traveling down the same forgetful path, though slightly further back. It’s a lottery if I find what I am looking for, although new snags arose when Nikki, our daughter purchase a key finding gadget. When the wee batteries went dud…or I had not put the valuable finder back it its allotted place… I could not lay my hands on this valuable piece of equipment then… it was an uphill struggle …to locate the basic implement …plus where our keys were hiding. Did I mention on becoming a moaner?

Also, how little in nature I observe right under my nose, which is simple and astonishing. Having a peek out of the kitchen window we have a tree much taller than the house, and on top of the tree a nest which a pair magpie built several years ago.

Two crows decided to take possession, then for some hours there was constant squawking coming from both pair of birds… until, for one reason or another, the crows chose to evacuate the nest. Magpies seem to be quarrelsome birds, especially when repairing the damaged caused, chasing any bird who attempt to take fallen twigs and the like from the garden.

One day seven magpies for some secret reason started to hound the two residents for a couple of hours…. seemingly just for the heck of it, but I am sure Sir David Attenborough could enlighten me the real purpose for such behaviour

Per chance over the past few weeks I have lingered in my duties as bottle washer, just watching the comings and goings of all the bird life which dine on the couple of hanging bird feeding apparatus. Having a squint, or two out of the kitchen window, started a fascinating observational trait, trying to work out what the bird life behaviour is in various types of bushes surrounding our home. Smaller birds, at a glance… appear idyllically playful, but, are really fighting for survival, and the ordeal in copulation.

One thing is quite constant… watching a television programme or a film on various channels, when towards the end, noticing scenes which are vaguely familiar…then suddenly realize I have seen the flick before. As the song goes…” I’m aching where I used to play” ….
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peter.howden
Silver special ‘Ladle’


Behind a wee docket, within a draw of a kitchen not far away, an old silver spoon, proud of its birth hallmark, but not haughty, as the question of being genuine antique silver never arises as is trademark, rather stonewashed with age, decipherable but not decisively of origin. It is hinted the spoon is an orphan, formerly from a set of cutleries bought by an army officer, from prize money awarded after the battle of Waterloo

Rarely brought along with other tableware, or when the the new instant electric lighting was on, the spoon’s constant concerns are left as a cast-off inside the drawer because of lack of use… or more important, used incorrectly stirring home-based curries and gooey stuff, the main dread is a scary utensil sat on the kitchenette floor… silently watching everything. When opened, it devours degraded food or anything, into an abyss of total blackness… where nothing ever returned from

This elderly silver utensil could just about recall past traditional formal silver service, regally laid when the entire setting of plates, cutlery and serving equipment were all silver. Tip-top on a regular majestic occasions and decorum was the order of the day. Once their duty was accomplished, all were returned to the kitchen area, a soft washing with warm water, adding baking soda with a sprinkle of salt. In exclusive occasions, such a wash was conducted before the event, with borax or vinegar added to the mixture, giving an extra glint when desired.

Throughout the years passing, was certainly not so gallant for the spoon, desperately separated from the set, during the war, pawned on several occasions. Those old dismal smelly foreboding loan establishments were just hostage takers with no regard in the items they imprisoned. Each time this type of incarceration occurred, lowered the expectations of the spoon ever returning to the original set. Different homes different cities until arriving in Glasgow’s 200-year-old celebrated ‘Paddy’s market’.

Run by street-traders but mainly hawkers associating with tickers and cadgers, peddling all sorts of goods. At least there was fresh air during most days, however the condition during the night were ghastly ghostly and inherited dampness smelling beyond the nose.

Now in this home residence for some 30 odd year, mainly neglected for its true purpose and potential, only to be used unprofessionally when small gatherings arrive…however… now and again luxury treatment comes unexpectedly…with warm water, baking soda and vinegar…as long as the feared swallowing gadget, in the middle of the kitchen floor, does not open….only for the silver spoon
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peter.howden
Sorry for he silly spelling
peter.howden
Unseen consequences

Jim stepped down from the train, tired and awkwardly annoyed, as it had made a mid-day unscheduled stop at a small homestead, seldom seen on any map and of no consequences for his journey. While tired eyes squinted around his new surroundings, he pulled shag tobacco from a crumpled packet, made, then lit a roll-up, with his first steps on solid ground in quite a time, he spotted a few shanty cabins around his side of the tracks of this god forsaken place. In either direction almost beyond the horizon there was nothing other than the rail track and dust.

Subbing out his cigarette as he ambled closer to the massive engine, the constant clatter of metal plates, plus the noise of the steam engine cooling down, was a mixture of weird and mysterious echoes. On his approach, it was only then Jim saw the two monstrous locomotives, coupled together hauling this long load of endless coaches.

One engineer came to meet him , shouting out how one of the spare tanks had been leaking since beginning this journey, but now desperately needed an emergency welding job The head engineer had phoned the controllers up the line, assuring this water stop, though far from anywhere really important, having loads of water to supply all the needs of the two trains, big as they were. They had no idea how long it would take to fix the leek temporary. Also, it would take two wheeltapper checking axleboxs aren’t overheating, as well as tapping along all the coaches the trains were hauling

Jim walked over the front, crossing over the tracks as the engineer shuttled backwards very slowly, for the tube from the water tank right next to the leading locomotive. It was obvious to Jim, that few trains passed, or stopped here, as grass was sprouting out of the nuts holding down the track, and rust took over most of the two steel tracks from way back. One thing for sure, it was really scorching day and the unwarranted clamour all around him, was not helping Jim’s mood.

On the other side of the tracks there were no houses, only rough and tumble shacks. No tiles on the roofs of these so-called dwellings, only lose fitting lengths of corrugated iron, plus plastic sheeting blowing in the wind. Some windows had glass in them, most only a rag. Right beside wealth and affluence on this train… was the ticket stub to poverty.

Unknown to anyone on the ground, two young boys from shanty town, had earlier gone swimming in the tank. Now hardly any train stopped at this location, and even when they did they were small shunters, or puffers. The boys were used to climbing the steel ladder, dropping into the cool water which was always almost over flowing. It was something for nothing and one over the railway company who still remained oblivious of this. When this unscheduled hullabaloo arrived, both youngsters kept a low profile as the clung on to the edge of the metal tank.

As the gigantic InterCitys took their fill, the level of the water tank fell dramatically, and the boys began to realize the predicament they were in. Simply for the lack of use, some sort of algae had formed and grown all the way down the sides of the tank. Their bodies were fully stretched as the water went down but they could not get a footing. Each time they attempted to pull themselves up to the ridge, they slid uncontrollably down. In a short time, they could not reach the top at all.

Panic set in as they shouted, screamed, and repeatedly try to kick the oily sides, but no one heard them above the hammer banging and welding engineering equipment below. They could not hold onto the sides as the creeping lichen had formed a slippery shied. Tiredness was now their biggest enemy. Frantically one boy tried repeatedly to dive under and assault the release valve at the core but each dive failed and each one became more difficult than the last...

The boys reasoned the train must be ready to leave soon the noise outside was bound to cease, allowing someone to hear their frantic calls of help. Keeping above the water was imperative for survival.

The train whistle blew all on board as the train’s engineers finally finished, allowing the train it to edge away from the old water trough. Jim, cosy in his Pullman apartment, looked at his watch, the hand showed 9 of an evening, chilly outside… but not a sound.
You could hear a pin drop…thought Jim
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peter.howden
Anxious

Is it an subconscious allusion in disturbed sleep, is it a dream or awaken reality as she touched me, her essence really touched me, brushed against my eager cheek without realizing as she slowly faded away. This brief enchanted tad, charged every captured nerve in my body, compelling my very blood to boiling point, releasing every hidden desire to hold her so close, we inhale the same single breath. Each particle within my body, aches with captivated hunger, all cells rebellious ...yet…I cannot say a word, nor display a gesture of desire, hiding any spark of affection.

It is not just sex but such a feeling right from my core as I watch her moving those stimulating lips, which I wish to caringly caress, then let loose with such passion…. the world has yet to witness. Petite built with curves where curves should be on a true lady, so delightful deserving the silver screen, yet I would be embarrassed if in a moment of weakness, showed my true feelings. Her elegant elfin fingers stretch out, however not for my trembling hand. Each majestic movement is grace embodied, flowing as a free butterfly on the wind. Her alluring eyes gleam with timeless angel’s innocence, shy of my existence

Do I love my illusive apparitional goddess? I would say no…but worship every expression, each soft utterance leaving her mouth, reverberating golden sounds which echo through my mind for days on end, cherishing every word, syllable by syllable. Gazing upon the wonder of her presence, eager wishes, and cravings beyond imagination.

One single touch of her velvet skin would gratify me forever, but… until now, in my heart, I know this not to be true. For this would create a thrust beyond the emotions… never touch the grounds again. Am I lost at the gates of paradise with only a glimpse of the beauty which leads me there.

There are worse places than hell.
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peter.howden
Cutting edge


‘Take care of the knives and they will take care of you, surpassing all endeavours of work.’ Was thee quote from the master-butcher who trained a certain apprentice all these years ago. The expert also jeered at the idea that one good knife would fit any job done in the kitchen. Poppycock, he would insist as this was an invention, a myth set up by these T/V chiefs, the likes of galloping gourmet Graham Kerr who knew very little about slicing up meats.

The now former trainee kept his ‘Set of Brothers’ (a special family term for his working knives) were always well clean after each job. You had to be careful about contamination he would say while carefully washing them individually in look-warm water, plus a minute drop of washing up liquid, followed by a dash of lemon.

They have never let the work or the former pupil down, by professionally completing anything placed before them.

One evening the he need to put his skates on, as guests were due soon, and no coca cola. Never mind, in the drinks cabinet a bottle or two of ‘Chateauneuf du *banned word*’ is being accustomed to room temperature and if all else fails, a bottle of the original Eldorado (yester-years Buckfast), a cheeky little fortified wine, loved in West Scotland, which novice had been saving for years for just such a unique occasion. Now with second thoughts about the visitors coming ,how they would not tell the difference between class grace or average….anyway…they were his wife’s crummy friends…he phoned them all.

The ‘Set of Brothers’ did a fabulous job today under difficult and stressful conditions, but they won the day. Brother clever was for the heavy stuff, boning carving and utility palette, filleting poultry shears and of course, my mezzalunas curved blade…. Slicing through the herbs. They all pulled their weight, having stood the test of time you can’t beat quality, mind you costing a lot… plus a few bob minds you but they will carve and cut anything. Best buy for me I reckon.

He decided to phone everybody expecting to come and cancel. Make this just an intimate cosy dinner for two. These philistine tragedies will not appreciate the pure effort slaving over such a sumptuous elite meal. I think everything is ready though just the washing up to attend to. The novice master’s table must be decorated just so; to be laid out in utter splendour, before bringing the wife to the table.

When you must carve and cook, all the best cordon bleu will leave a mess and the professionals have armies of slaves to do the cleaning up but for some strange reason, this feels part of whole ritual. With such a variety of cuts there was bound to be blood, not for the squeamish but still a fundamental part of the procedure.

Having such ‘Set of Brothers’ he could command any position, throughout the capitals cities of the world, anywhere and who knows with the right introductions, he could be top cordon bleu of any gastronome restaurant. Feeling privileged tonight for his wife will adorn the table, possessing etiquette of serving properly being observed always.

He planned to invite some of the owners of prestige eateries, permitting them to sample the able-bodied preserved leftovers. All this he owed to the ‘Set of Brothers’, for without their vital part of the bistro opera, it would have proved impossible.

All is prepared along with the ice from our gigantic freezer, is the last compliment to the table, bar one. will now bring in the little woman of the house, his captivating spouse.

She did serve up well… thanks to the brothers, keeping it in the family, together cut through her body as if it were mere butter. The large serving plate has a piece of every part of her minute body.

Now awaiting to be hung… still in a tizzy as to what wine would have enhanced the table?
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peter.howden
Anecdotes from the auld Steamie

Bath Bank; ( Alterative Scribble)


As mentioned a few times in some scribbles, around the late Victorian age, throughout Scotland many purpose built establishments around various heavy engineer’s districts, in most cities or towns, to suit the dire needs of the working class. This planned essential service was due to overcrowding in tenements, having few amenities within their room and kitchens, or single-ends. In the interior of the granite walls of such local institutions, much appreciated facilities were the now renowned ‘Steamie, Swimming pool, Turkish suite and huge hot baths were standard.

There were some exceptions to the rule as in one individual metropolitan, in a certain posh district, a building housing only a washhouse and baths conveniences. The population of this district never referred to this founding as a ‘Steamie’, as the management changed the laundry area into automatic washing machines and electric driers. This was achieved by the new university graduate manager reputed to be forward thinking. The whole personnel were screened to deliver better criteria of employees, to blend in with the area and population.

Boiler men were usually picked from merchant ship stockers, or railway firemen, renowned for the talents, and for consuming liquor during working hours. For this prestige appointment, applicants had to be teetotal and the winner was from a selective cruise ship …third engineer (presumed to be a better class of seaman) claiming to be abstemious

This theory ex-student also suggested the enormous porcelain enamelled was rather common, urging to replace them with the new expensive stainless-steel tub, taking less room and a modern look to encourage patronage deal was set with a warehouse, baths delivered on a Wednesday, for the plumbers to work on them during the next weekend. The old now obsolete baths were ripped out and stored as spares in case needed by other areas. At the weekend all the staff, excluding the manager, given double time to assist in the mayhem of clearing up, ready for business on Monday morning.

Nothing is known what really happened during the weekend but when the manager entered the wash-house, there was no boiler man to preheat the building. There was no sign of the 34 steel baths, just a empty shell with dripping water from bent pipes. Several of the staff did not turn up either as the shocked manager phoned the police and just waited bewildered. The police finally came and investigated what the said was a clean job. The leading C.I.D. officer added “I believe this was an inside job”.

The apprentice manager is now rumoured to be a Accountant...Somewhere

-=-=-=-
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peter.howden
My Chronicles 29/04/2018

While collecting wee Aunt Becky, Sunday past, from Rannoch House where as a resident with Alzheimer’s, she was more mentally adrift than usual. Becky’s normal gambit, when meeting people, is to say to anyone, including me, “I haven’t seen you for ages’. In past collections when we get into the car, with the Scottish songs marching out of the speakers in the old jalopy, she responds by knowing the routine, roughly recalling who I am, but mainly it’s the music she connects with.

Becky give the impression to be contracting, both physically, and with bewildered delusion, occasionally feisty, even with the dedicated helpful staff. Once we leave Maryhill and the city boundary, heading for Strathblane Becky picks up the tempo, singing the old favourites, and taping her feet. Now and then odd comments are made about the landscape with the walking lamb chops(sheep) and how farming is hard bloody work.

Conceivably this is misapprehension of my memories, cherry-picking what occurred in the past, which dilutes the reality of today. Becky does enjoy the Kilpatrick Hills, as I do. Next Friday I plan to bring her home for tea with Rebecca.

Mucking about in one of the cupboards in the house, I came across the collection of yellow plastic ducks in a container. They are of various sizes, mainly yellow with a few fancy ones given to me by my grandkids. Being apprehensive about their confinement, since losing the occasional outing in the bath, for a much-needed wet room for the humans, I was perplexed what or where I could put them.

Having a large wooden framed mirror in the shower area, I decided to place on the top, about a dozen of the smaller yellow ducklings, include the original duck named Daffy, given to me by a Dundee hotel many moons age. The actual mirror underneath, gives the impression of a pond, and perhaps they may be only made of plastic… but they are entitled to their private illusions.

‘She who must be obeyed’ and I, drove down to Eyemouth, for a few days, staying in a very comfortable guest house, very close to a working harbour. It was a grand break, with one small hiccup when the fleet came in on the second night.

The next morning the car was covered with seagulls’ droppings which during the early morning loads of seagulls flew above, fighting ferociously for scrapes of fresh fish. Had to drive to North Berwick to use a Tesco car wash. While walking along the main street of the picturesque town, I could hear waves of ghostly music of 1963, when Jim Hamilton and I camped there.

Back in Eyemouth, the room we booked entertained an attractive huge four poster bed, to enhance a magical romantic break, coupled with all the mod cons, shower, and bidet as well. We did not act as true swingers with such a prize because the only excess use for the four posters came while holding on to one of the wooden pillars helping me to balance while putting on my socks… as for the bidet…I used it to wash my feet…. what a bum?

Touring around the wee country roads to place like the cosy St Abbs, an anchor of scuba diving around the coastline, then heading for old haunts in ‘Berwick on tweed’, stacked with young memories walking up Castlegate, late of a night, eating fish & chips after the pictures, some 65 years ago. Nothing stays the same except old reminiscences which fade when looking through older eyes.

I have found no matter how fantastic and enjoyable the holiday is the older I become, the expectation of sleeping in my own bed, is so powerful on the last day or so…it is a joy to be going home…deluded or not?
peter.howden
Lost Point

A long era ago…far…far…far away, where time was not important but still in memory, in a wee hamlet, between other toty hamlets, surrounded by a town, there lived a hub of cheerful ladies, whose magic hands were legends with a needle.

One bright morning they started a local ‘Sawing Bee’, trying a small way to conserve the sense of community, in such brutal feudal times. In the beginning just a few neighbours took part, rotating meetings in each other’s spick and span home’s.

Leisurely, many other ladies joined, taking their stitching seriously, not only to be sociable, but to enter competitions, throughout the land, for prizes, perhaps pin money. The quality of the embroidery was so wizardly sewn, actual coinage, more than prizes, began to be the keen rewarded. This fact alone convinced the ladies to form a small group, responsible to allocate some of the extra coins to assist the needs of the older people who resided within their settlements.

The dedicated needlecraft was now increasing in demand, which planted the seed to invest becoming a home-grown business. No ordinary commercial undertaking, one with share and share alike principles, profits returning to improve the wider community.

It was vital to continue to take advice from anyone, possessing keen knowledge of enterprise, to give advice and analyses the crags of legalisation and documents involved with the powers in fortified keep.
The decision was unanimous, to ask a needlepoint expert, who… not only assisted the skills of other ‘Sewing Bees’, dotted around the township, but had close connections with gaining grants, plus the ability to screen unwanted legalisation.

The chosen one was more accomplished in reading the reels of parchments and rules, pot holes and loopholes continuously changing, being issued by the sorcery assembly of slippery unpredictable political whims of ambitious Barons and Squires.

Realizing to thrive, it was imperative to join others to evoke the powers to be to act favourably for community ethos roots.

Shortly after the selection, unfortunately there was no magic wand available to prevent one common fault to rankle…whispering gossip, murmurs of discontent used as currency to decide how the adviser was presumed to be looking after other interests before this ‘Sewing Bee’… this ‘Sewing Bee’… wished and demanded their dance would call the tune…regardless of the needs of all.

If you look for fault, you will assuredly find it in anything… the core where seeps envy… uncompromisingly eternal.

When individual peoples strained beliefs, convert more important than the original shared cause…it’s a lost point why it all started in the first place. Was it wise to surrender the advice-giver not to return? Was it a case of cutting your nose to spite your face?

With a belief in thrifty stiches… one thing should have been kept in mind…a stich in time…saves nine
peter.howden
PEEWEE’S PARIS;


On a summer break I was strolling along the left bank of the Seine, after frequenting a selection of Paris’s hostelries, purely for research reasons. I stopped and sat to observe the famous river’s obvious grand bridge, ‘Pont Neuf, while taking a sip a slight refreshment, the ‘water of life’ from my trusty flask. This historic banking of the Seine was where Napoleon wished to be buried. Taking in the full ambiance of the scene, a familiar Glasga voice, drifting loosely in the early night air…It was Peewee.

Strangely… Peewee always turned up while I was on holiday in Saltcoats, or Stevenson, usually when I was walking home alone, after visiting local taverns, the quaffing the golden nectar as I stumbled along. Again…I was the only the one person who saw him, I was the solitary one he talked too.

Pee-Wee is no ordinary pigeon, nor is he a myth or daydream, he is a magical talking pigeon, who’s feudal duty has been looking after the Lord Provost of Glasgow, under another title, due to the prosperous Bishops of the town. This took place as the dark and mysterious middle ages dragged to a close, under the guise of Baillie Richard De Dunidovis; though the actual title of ‘Lord Provost’ was not scrolled until John Stewart “First Provost that was in the cite of Glasgow”, (The tongue and speech was different in these early days) was proclaimed a few centuries later.

Where Peewee came from is in the unwritten scrolls where legends come from and how long he’s been there and the power within having been cast through the centuries. The only hint was the very first Lord Provost was only on nodding acquaintance, however because of “the incident” became a total admirer from then on. The mere suggestion the present Lord Provost would take advice from a pigeon, would raise more than political eyebrows, may stretch the art of belief.

Under the political banner of the Auld Alliance, Pee-Wee had gone over in the early years a few times, as an adviser in both war and in peace. The original alliance granted dual citizenship in both countries. As a result, in 1419, 15,000 Scots left from the River Clyde to fight the ‘Battle of Bauge’, in France. The travelling Scots crushed the English, killing the Duke of Clarence.

Peewee once popped over to Paris, in those terrible times in Madame Guillotine bloody rule, in company with the old hags who’s sharp needles of knitting revolution, which made him glad he refused the Royal title, offered by the Sun King many years back from those chilling years. He can recall a visit travelling late fifteen century, with a valiant mercenary soldier from Glasgow, who saved France in the Italian Campaign, becoming a nation’s hero to this date.

Some may wonder, certainly question why such a distinguished figure as Peewee, would converse with a commoner as I, and that I cannot tell except that he had a soft spot for Saltcoats, where we first met. It is easy reached town, to holiday away from the grind of patrolling George Square. He enjoyed the solitude while strolling along the beach late of a evening, deep in contemplation, while I would be airing my head after an enjoyable dram or two of the “Water of Life”.

Peewee assured me this trip, to the French capital was strictly pleasure, as he was accompanied with his light plumage lady friend. Please do not refer to her as ‘His Bird’, for this upset them both, reminding them how the French will put sauce over anything. Whatever the young dove had, made Peewee act like a spring chicken, cooing and cooing, in the act of love for his dove.

Peewee gave me the hint of wishing private moments with his lady friend, yet… as usual when departing, gave me a wee gem of advice, truly sincere …. ‘The French are always make something special of their river Seine…. we should do the same for the river Clyde, as we have so much history from it!’.

Leaving for Paris later this month…I wonder if I will have the good fortune to come across Peewee…I’m taking my flask…in hope
-=-=-=-=-
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peter.howden
My Chronicles 13/05/2018

Habit

Because I mention the near monthly excursion, you may believe it is by habit which takes me, by train, to Ayr, simply to keep company with my China Jim Hendry… It may now have developed into some sort of psychological stimulant I depend on to keep me sane, though judging by our conversations, this particular theory probably well misses the mark. The habit may well be just sipping our refreshments in Weatherspoon’s, rather than accomplishing our origin intention for strolling towards the heads of Ayr.

It is said marathon runners, professional and amateur, gain some sort of hormone testosterone intoxication, by contentiously practicing each day, pushing themselves to an unseen limit. When for some reason or other can not run, they suffer withdrawal symptom. If indeed Jim and I come under some kind of similar condition, it must be a test to see who can be more ridiculous, laughingly behaving as if in a state of adolescence, I enjoy the journey down and I enjoy the company…what more could I ask for?

She who must be obeyed’ and I were down in Eyemouth, staying in a comfortable pleasant guesthouse. A very enjoyable time with Rebecca, touring along country roads, in my old jalopy, visiting new as well as well kent places However, one thing I did miss... my habit of using a small window squeegee, called ‘Heineken’, while doing my ablutions of a morning.

The expiation is simple, not having the ability or being not allowed either having a bath or shower, by doctors’ orders, due to being diagnosed having very dry skin, appearing in my legs no less… perhaps all these years working in Turkish suites., I have to use a cloth ... but the dare devil within allowed me to shower my feet…for a glorious minute or so, sprinkled water all over my feet… sheer heaven. At home we have a shower situated in a custom made wet room, so as an old delinquent, I can splash around to my hearts delight

I manage amazingly well washing at the sink, with a trusty flannel, as normal as I can be…however stretching to some parts of my back is just impossible. Hitting on the idea of using the small window squeegee, wrapped in a flannel, I achieve a wet rub down of all my back. I call the apparatus ‘Heineken’ …because it refreshingly reaches parts of my anatomy… that others can’t.

One thing I have lost a enjoyable habit of …looking after the garden. Sadly missed, for at least 5 years due to time consuming things I had little control over. I now have plans to relinquish all my ties and promises with Housing and council committees in the next month or so, which hopefully will allow enthusiasm to the house needs and return a gardening routine, to knock it into some kind of pleasurable landscape.

The housing experiences for some 26 years has been something else however my memory and needed keenness is slipping…time to move on…collect a few new habits
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peter.howden
Home Spun Stories


I DIG DUNBAR;(part one)

There is a Glasgow saying “bite someone’s ear” meaning to speak inquire relentlessly to someone to gain information or in another sense there is “he bite my ear aft” relating to someone who has suffered someone’s temperament or over excitement. These wee cute expressions, along with gem words like, Cateran…Bluntie…Strumrel…Kemp…Gaberlunzie, and many others are being lost, to a common mode of communication throughout the British isle if not the whole English-speaking population. The biggest corruption against local vernacular is ‘Text’ and Twitter’


We Scots, stick out our chest at the mere mention of Scotland, demanding to be recognized as a race with customs and education of a pearl status, brave and compassionate, strong but open hearted, and by far the most important above all else, true to our word, and oath.

In foreign lands we are extremely loud about our traditions, with the whirl of both the bagpipes and the kilt, though in our own country we are slowly letting go the one thing to set us apart from all other nation, that is “The Gaelic” the true language of the poets. A couple of words before drinking the ‘Water of life’ will not keep it burning.

In my amateurish blundering way, I will include a few forgotten brammer’s …no Gaelic though.

As a youngish laddie, my residence was “digs” in a house situated at Murray Place. It was a large house, owned by a highland family MacNeacail, were they housed ten other boarders, not exactly like me, for they were highland gentlemen who spoke “the Gaelic” and were much older than I. The big Victorian rooms were detached, with plywood, into three separate bed abodes. Quite thrifty the thought, (stingy) I thought. The common room where we dined was advertised as central heated, in fact, a single ‘Calor gas stove’ stood in the middle of the room, sort of a Scottish notion of stretching a point. No heating in the partitioned so-called bedrooms upstairs.

There is no easy way of putting the next point, but the lady Agnes of the house, was certainly of fiddle fyke personality, but alas more disastrous, a rotten cook. She made, then baked pie every Tuesday and Thursday, each time none of the paying guest came home on these days.

The dog was given the sacrifice in his dish laying unmoved until the family were forced to toss it in the bin. The other men were kind to me, maybe I reminded them of themselves when naive of city ways, they arrived in the big toon, meeting their isles comrades under the” Highlandman's Umbrella”.

One evening’s dinner, we were served up haggis, neeps and champit tatties(mashed), celebrating “Robert Burns Night”, when I happened to remark I thought the meal was exceptionally good... I put this down to youthful innocence, but I fear my companions did no, giving the impression of taking me as a Strumrel (a twit). For the next six nights in a row, we were served the very same, even on pie nights, we knew this because of the hound’s bowl.

As I do not speak “the Gaelic” I could not fully understand just what the other men were saying when I would enter the room long after the affair, but I would safely bet it was not praises galore.

Not to long after this period, I moved just around the corner in Marywood Place, renting a semi large flat, along with, one of the good guys, my old china, Ross Grant. We tried to live up to the reputation all teenagers were saddled with during the swinging 60s…and to a great degree we managed it…though we were asked if we were ‘with it’…but never worked out what ‘it’ was.

Four would be Kemps, Jim Hamilton, Bruce Curry, Alan Ramsay, and myself, decided to travel afar by using Alan’s car, ‘Singer Gazelle’ no less, camping along the east coast. We were very good friends, enjoying each other, in a mate’s mate way, just bumming around as the mood took us.

We landed up outside Dunbar, the home town of Black Agnes the wife of the earl of March and a game bird by all accounts even the English invaders left saying something of the same… ‘Come I early, come I late, I found Black Agnes at the ruddy Gate’.

Now, I had experience the historic seaside town when in the Boys Brigade summer camp at White sands in 1960. It may sound impossible a spotty teenager could feel sentimental about anything, place, or person, but I was gyte at the time, all because of Alice, my first true love, but that’s another event…and I’m no clype.

Last episode to follow
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peter.howden
I DIG DUNBAR;(part two)

Acting like four goons, stopping off along the road for a pint in a cosy pub at Musselburgh, rewarded with liquid gold, which sank smoothly down, quenching the thirst of traveling. Certainly not ‘Penny-wabbles’, as some English establishments play on travellers. However, Alan had to make do with a ginger…as the designated driver, anyway, he would not let any of us behind the wheel of his cherished chariot…. mates or no mate.

We asked how, how no. Alan turned his head, avoiding replying, but spotted a board advert for a dance, in a Ballroom, per chance it was that very evening, in Dunbar. A warning underneath stated …(Casual wear will be declined entrance). Underneath the message on the board clearly marked, ‘trousers and a tie were a must, no jeans or rubber soles allowed’.

We presumed it was to keep out the rift raft or Teddy boy element. Since we had nether teddy or a raft we were dancing. We were not worried as we brought some gallus clobber with us, just in case.

It was now raining by the time we left the inn, that slightly smirr stuff, the kind which seeps right into your clothing, no matter what you are wearing.

We reached White Sands set up, two tents. then checked our belongings. Unfortunately, our stylish trousers were not displaying their best…creased, but all in the wrong places. The problem was, in haste stuffing things in the kitbags. Our wrinkled gear would make us look like Caterans who had slept in the slacks.

There was a few hours before the dance started as we gathered all the wrinkly wear, pointed the trusty ‘Singer Gazelle’ in the direction of the seaside town of some historical note. Arriving in Dunbar’s main street, marched into local very busy café, and since I was holding the precious attires, straight up the first table where five girls were sitting, then inquired beseechingly, “We are strangers here, but can you press four pair of trews for tonight?”.

Luck was on our side, for the first girl called Helen, a bonny lass, for not only did she take them home, so her mum would do the honours, but she and her chums were the best of company the next few days. When leaving Dunbar, like most holiday friendships or romances, we promised we would write.

Weeks later I receive a battered letter addressed to; Howden, Marywood Place, Glasgow. Inside was a short note, and one small brownie photo of Helen, and I still have it, displayed on the wall just above me as I type. The photo was taken when she was four years old…and the note said… ‘at first, I thought you were all ‘Rummlieguts…but now I know you are not!’… ?
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peter.howden
Anecdotes from the auld Steamie

Card Sharks

Somewhere amongst the many purpose built Victorian wash-houses well loved known as ‘Steamie’ building, around the industrial cities of Scotland, they all had extra attractions and functions due to the steam produced in any given large boiler house. Such extras were Swimming pools, Hot baths, and the Turkish suites.

In one a particular very busy Turkish suite, in an unspecified metropolitan, drew a regular mixed clientele including famous peoples, Judges, lawyers, policemen criminals, footballers and managers, theatre managers and actors, singers and comedians, gay men, and we ordinary peoples.

Adding this mixed bag of a weekly population, was a share of criminals, thieves, hard men, and gangsters of all different degrees. Their habits and …outside may not be a desirable quality, but strangely inside the premises of the Turkish suite, they were above board, polite and could be counted on, when given… keeping their word. It was an education to see how easily they mixed in with the rest of the ordinary public, who knew they were dangerous fellows but appeared to revel in the company.

Big Joe was one of the heavy mob who took on the persona of a business man, and at that time, he was because he owned all the radios, operating in all the taxis, within the radius in this one particular urban…however his talents lay deeper that that. Very polite speaking and looking every inch a city gent, however he had a crippling darker side, as some real heavy, and certain peoples in the know were frightened by his well-deserved reputation, which at the moment we will leave well alone.

One thing Ben Gunn knew, inside the Turkish baths, he gave respect to Ben Gunn, also he was one of the few known to keep his word to him.

One late evening, to pass the time, several punters were playing cards, (thought they were immune to the rules of the council because they were playing with big Joe) As Ben Gunn was pass the group, Joe looked displeased, so he asked Joe what was getting him down. Joe stared back up, uttering grudgingly how he was losing. As a fly on the ointment comment, as Ben looked at the rest of the company... “they are probably double- dealing Joe!”.

No matter where you go in a Turkish suite, it is not only really warm but hotter than any Scottish summers day has ever been …but these chaps, wee Dick, flat harry and Tam the Bam, turned pure white, the instant those words left Ben’s lips. Ben then left the scene to attend to other needs.

Returning to the scene some 10 minutes later, witnessing a change in Big Joes attitude with a pleasing smile and a resting calm in his posture. Ben responded by asking how things were going and with almost in an innocent chuffed manner replied…he had won the last three running hands in a row…I told you Joe they were cheating you.

At this; and if feasibly possible…the magnificent three card sharks turned even white than white advertised in ‘Square deal Surf’ adverts, also near physically wrinkled heads followed. Joe was told later it was against the rules, then apologized personally to Ben Gunn…The wonder three never played cards in the suite again

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peter.howden
Confessions and Tales from a tailor Shop;

Working in the inexpensive tailoring shops was far more profitable for the individual salesman than the Bespoke, or what was deemed upper market, simply because of better commission rates…but the rub was quantity over quality. Each day you were given a target, however, ‘The fly in the buttermilk’ was not only to reach this progressively larger figure…but continuously improve by a greater margin…or tears before bedtime, if it happened more than a few times…no excuses excepted.

Employed in a shop, as a salesman, was a dire means to earn a living, which depending on their calibre, in some cases surviving to the next week. All the fancy talk is one thing…but the main secret for this type of pressure selling…is in knowing the stock inside out

In certain plays, films and comedy sketches, gags describing gents sale staff uttering a couple of famous lines such as ‘The sleeves will rid up with wear’ and the classic …’ that really suits you sir.’ I can’t recall saying anything similar to any customer, for any quips always were directed to the influencing wife, girlfriend, or mate, depending who was with him. Quick success depended from the very first moment s you come in eye contact while observing the body language of all concerned, listening to exactly what she preferred, either blue, green, grey, stripe check, style, cut or otherwise.

On a busy Saturday, an average of three suits in quick succession, one to small, one to big and the last one roughly his size, but vital…her colour…or as near as possible to the style Never as any punter his size in anything… it only confuses the situation, for if he is older, he will quote his build when 18/21 years old, stubbornly refuse anything not labelled as so. If he is a young buck…he will state he is a bigger size than he really is, he-man stuff…time wasting

Do not allow anyone to try on a suit’s pair of trousers was the ultimate command in ‘City Cash Tailors’ shops … and to avoid this, one shop had locking devices, similar to public conveniences, showing in red… engaged. It was snibbed first thing in the morning from inside, then the setter scrambled out of the cubicles…left like that all day…. especially on Saturdays.

It was considered sale suicide to ask how much they were willing to spend for normally the customer will inform you the amount on their Provident, Bristol and Caledonian check they were granted.

With cash customers slightly different, relying on faithful body language plus their own attire would aid the experienced salesman the above information may put the salesman into the cold hearted conceited person bracket…but remember, he is there to earn as much commission as possible, plus avoid involuntary joining the dole.

However, there were some dubious claims made by the sales-person, when selling items straight from the window display. The florescent lighting being severe inside the window, caused obvious fading of any garment, while underneath these huge old cardboard price cards pinned to a row of trousers, coats, and suits, the cloth remains roughly the same original shade, plain for daylight to see.

The tale would follow for Suits and Coats, “unseen molecule emissions from the sun, even in the wardrobe at home, will return the natural colour within a few days!”. If it was a shirt, jumper, washable Levi’s, or jeans, the following line may help, “If you was in look warm water, squeeze in lemon juice, then it will return naturally!”.

If Levi Sta-Prest where all wrinkled up, the following amazingly helped tremendously, “The manufacture sent this batch in…to prove you can press the back to their original crease!”

It appears, if you say something in a straight sincere sounding voice…most people will believe it…None of us are saints.

Next time…the tale of Thorn Proof
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peter.howden
My Chronicles 03/06/2018

There was a realization of the inevitable closeness to a sadness, which Rebecca desperately wished would not happen… but mainly for Aunt Becky. Because Becky had been diagnosed having Dementia some time ago, its true complications had yet not quite become obvious how it would affect us both. When doctors or experts explained, as best they could, how certain triggers, common to the mind disease, would display themselves… however only certain parts of the account sunk in while other details seemed to be far away from the moment of instructions.


The sorrow is each step causes heart wrenching thoughts and fears, exhausting built up defences and personal tenacity, sometimes unware of the accurate picture. Aunt Becky was now lost in her own wee world, unable to really communicate in ours, yet appears quite comfortable, even in a state of grace, at the same time within a shell of the original wee woman. Our main consolation is Becky is a dedicated team in a specialized home, taking care of her needs which, she is oblivious of…but most important…she is safe.

I plan to carry on taking her hurls, across the enchanting Kilpatrick hills, but regrettably will have to shorten the route…as she fell asleep half way along the last time. She cannot communicate she is tired,

Last week I took a trip to Paris, unfortunately, ‘She who must be obeyed’ felt unable to the challenge of Metro stairways and corridors. This meant I could make my usual mistakes, jump on the wrong bus or land up in the wrong place, even arrondissement, with impunity…just turn around and redirect.

As a true Scotsman, I purchased a multipurpose transport ticket, for the duration of my unplanned expeditions, probing into the far corners of this exceptional city, where sightseers and tourist seldom see. Similar with major cities in the world, there is the glitter/glamour/historical world for tourism, then places where the average Parisian frequent…add the areas and practices, hidden from any outside vacationer’s eyes…but telling a tale all the same.

One vital importance is just simple communication, for as far as my personal experience has taken me, if you can clearly say, ‘Please/Thank you’ in the language of the country, most people will go out of their way to help. Many times, after sputtering out longish correct French sentence, or so I thought, only to be greeted with either puzzlement or laughter…or both, but given assistance to whatever needed, either in directions or purchase. The word ‘Magic’ seems to work for me…also an agreeable disposition plays a good hand.

Watching from the advantage of my hotel window across from the magnificent entrance to the 154-year-old ‘Gare de Nord’ was a hullabaloo union demonstration, old fashioned bicycle horns, loud bangers, and red distress flares, in protest against the railway bosses, and boy what a rally. For half an hour or so, they were chanting, louder and louder against State reforms, sounding comparable between the all blacks Moira “HAKA” rugby chants, and Welsh Miner Choirs singing the same verse over and over again. For this resolve alone…they deserve a hearing.

As far as my limited experience, in Rolls Royce, Caterpillar Tractors, private business, warehouses, and the grand Glasgow City Council has taken me, when some workers have a genuine right to complain about conditions, and incomes, there are sincere people on both side, unfortunately… both Unions and industrial leaders, of any kind, abuse the rules of employment, by proceeding with their own agendas with little regard to the actual issues.

Next Chronicles will explain
… family pick-pockets…. lady chancers…Japanese travellers with a big difference…open air cottage industry

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peter.howden
My Chronicles 07/06/2018

I may have mentioned it before, Paris railway stations are bursting with life of their own, (particularly Gare de Nord the busiest in Europe according to the human traffic passing through the train service and the metro). In Glasgow stations, your either coming or going, or waiting for a train or person. Within Paris Gare’s, it is a living throbbing stage, continuously fluctuating script, and performers…giving professional actors a lesson in tangible drama, comedy, and despair. Travellers pimps and tramps, desperate peoples from all nationalities massing into a human soup.

In Paris itself, the renowned old public cast-iron roundish street urinals, almost artistic of the 1880s to late1960s, are all gone, but just at the left side of Gare de Nord, as an endless flow of buses leave the station, at the side of a wall, similar to Aries Amphitheatre built 90 A.D two open- visual stainless-steel urinals, proudly displayed and constantly used. Giving the free for all cottage industry alfresco whiff of air.

Taking the Metro to the famous ‘Abbesses’ station, with an Art Nouveau entrance, but more important, the centre of the delicious intrigue, fact and fiction of ‘Montmartre’ to reach the enchanting ‘Basilique du Sacré-C½ur’ superb at all angles. Amazingly watched a Japanese’s couple walking up the white stairs while they were reading a …. Another Japanese lady, holding up an umbrella and her face almost covered by a smog tie on mask…It was neither sunshine of rain.
For film exhilaration is the very Rue Drevet/Rue des 3 Freres, and stairway, open film sequel of ‘Ronin’

But the biggest treasure is on the other side of the Montmartre hill, where seldom a tourist steps…just sauntering around, Rue and Avenue, soaking up the historical sites of old building, giving a good impression of a slum, but perhaps the culture of the lives of the renowned artists, from the past and present, mingling with the poor and destitute of today.

On a hoachin Metro, on two separate days, observed Father and son dipping team. The 9-year-old boy attempted palmed the wallet, or something, but failed while under frustration, he squinted to the older man, quickly followed by looking out the window, pretending not know each other, until the next stop. Next day, two chancers, extremely well developed young ladies worked a dodge by bumping into an unexpected traveller, with her assets, as the train came to a stop. As the doors opened, kicked up a rumpus of indignity while her china dipped the target…very slickly done.

I spent some time in the footsteps of yesteryear strolling slowly around highlight places where ‘She who must be obeyed’ and I visited many moons ago. Auguste Rodin’s out of this world Museum, exhibiting The Thinker, the huge ‘Burghers of Calais’, and of course…’The Kiss’… based on illicit love couple, Paolo & Francesca, in the second circle of Dante’s hell, where the carnal sinners are penalised. Years ago, I read a book called ‘Naked I came’ about Rodin’s life, but before doing so, I thought ‘The Kiss’ was just a great snog…

Sitting of an evening outside of the café facing the great Gare de Nord, just people watching, and with luck sometimes being joined by passer byes, just put the icing on the cake especially one Irish guy, who carried his own oxygen about, for his sins of 60 years of heavy smoking. He appeared well known and ordered a special lager which was not on the menu.

We sat until well after midnight on my last evening…pure magic…but Peewee did not appear?
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peter.howden
Confessions and Tales from a tailor Shop;

Selling, or making a sale, is not rocket science, however, most personnel, who are lumbered with such employment, forget one of the fundamental practices, listening attentively while also observing people’s mannerisms as soon as possible. The craft is in construction of a brief relationship where the customer reveals their wants and desires without the sales individual asking any direct question dealing with size, style, or price …always acting on character needed.

Within my time working in the lower end of the tailoring market, there were two main types of shoppers, three if you count the timewasters, or peoples who just come out of the rain for shelter. The two main types are cash customers and Provident, Caledonian, and good old Bristol check carriers. The cash consumer was looking for style and quality, for a price reduction on cut price rags, the check carrying patrons slavered these occasions as special in their calendar … and must be treated so.

The ultimate sin, for any sales-person, was sell size 38/40 suits and Jackets, or coats which were most sought after by the youths who frequented ‘City Cash Tailors’. Inside every tailor shop, working in such close conditions, plus the particular intimate assessing inside legs, and the like, or operating the full bespoke (made to measure suit) created a sense of intimacy. This allows grace when using the woes of their tired attire, and of your own, to conquer the transaction.

One day a cagy customer appeared at the entrance of the establishment, who proved to be an ungenerous ‘know it all’, by the way he fingered material, tut-tutted more than once. Some eccentric procurers were not averse to threatening the salesman with the ‘Trades description act’, so verbal agility in what you informed…did vary on these occasions. This chap stated he knew all about cloth and he would not be deceived by any lackey.

After bringing a jacket, affirming it to be ‘Thornproof, he’ asked me to prove such a statement because real cloth was expensive, and you could drive a nail into the material which afterwards you could not see where it went in. Rather shocked when I proceeded to do exactly this, and afterwards searched and examined the sleeve of the jacket but could not discover the hole. It was a ‘sleight of hand’ deception…but paid up, leaving with one sleeve …bearing a hole in it.

Another such chap trying on a well-fitting sky colour lightweight suit, priced at £19.95 pence. He had convinced himself it was Cashmere, asking how it was possible to be so cheap.

I answered quite coyly how I did not have to mention to him, as he knew Cashmere came from the soft fine undercoat hair on the stomach of ‘Kashmir’ goats who roamed the Gobi Desert…. I added the reason for such a phenomenal price was…this particular company held the sole rights to the inside hair of these goat’s abdomens …he was chuffed leaving the store
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peter.howden
The demise of an unofficial institution

My attendance the East Kilbride sauna (Dollan Aqua Centre) on Saturday morning has changed for two reasons. The heartache is the loss of comradeship of home grown ‘Benghazi Mice’. from 1987/2017 with the ritual meeting place being first Pollokshaws, which closed, moved the team to East Kilbride.

The original elderly gang, some 17 guys acting as weans, are down to 2 old bampots, Dom and myself, though we both now must retire from the rigors of the sauna. Dom has Parkinson’s disease, and his one liner to this terrible condition…’I knew I had Parkinson’s disease…I kept interviewing everyone’. My lame excuse being inconsequential cause is dry skin patches on my legs, where baths and showers, and most certainly, steam and swimming, are not in the treatment…if there is such a thing.

Throughout the stupendous span, the ‘Benghazi Mice’ emphatically were majestic company, warm and sincere, nevertheless I miss the rough and tumble loud self-opinionated conversations of a multitude of crazy pals, whose creation just hit the spot each time we met. We salute the fallen ‘Benghazi Mice’… long may they live within fascinating memories. I visit wee Dom, at his house, every second Sunday.

Due to one reason or another, I have lacked exercised for some considerable time, decided a forbidden swim would help painful muscles, joints, and bones, caused by constant mental foolhardiness of picking up gross over-weighty things, thinking I’m still 17 years old. This of course is an allusion, for when I peek into the mirror, I can’t believe the return reflection…mirror, mirror on the wall…forget it.

It would have to admitted I’m no Mark Spitz, more like a wrinkly looking Winston Churchill baby out of water. The contentious lifeguards always looked upon my style of swimming as an odd puzzlement with unique strokes. This time round, aching quite a considerable bit, demonstrating puny arm movements, coughing, spluttering, near out of breath, however, in five minutes or so, a sensation of mounting powerful strokes.

Not in a Tarzan the ape man panache, Johnny Weissmuller did with ease, but a steady eel like motion in the pool. The surprised exercise did the world of good to my confidence in accepting the pain as time swims by.

Swimming now alone in the pool, eyes closed floating around relaxing in the comfort of the warm water, memories slips back to the good old days in Saltcoats and Stevenson extended beach. To have any chance swimming in deeper water, there was a need to go way out a considerable distance, while looking back at the people on the sand imitating ants size wise. One such day while swimming out further from the coastline than ever before, I began to ease out and drift, allowing the heavy waves to dictate my speed and direction.

Totally alone sunbathing in salt water a familiar sound entered ricocheting around my head was the striking soundtrack from the film, ‘Jaws’, Loud pitch alternating two notes; “E and F" or "F and F sharp", warning of impending menace, piercingly encourage attempts to drown out any sensibility, I started to look around for the tell-tale signs of a shark while the frenzy tune bounced louder and louder. Knowing you are a bampot does not help as a sensation of panic around my head. I think I broke my own puny record storming to the shoreline.

In the absolute safety of a Glasgow District council pool I was repeating the need to look around for any sharks as these two awesome notes again impaled my mind. Unfortunately, the doctor was correct in not bathing, or showering my legs, for red blotches appeared on my forelegs. Something like when stung by a jellyfish…. this time I stung myself
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peter.howden
JIM STEPS;(1)

Jim stepped down from the train, into a grim grey unwelcoming platform, wondering why he had truly come. He had no wish to be here, or anywhere near this ugly reminder, but was drawn by subtle threats, making it perfectly clear as to what future tragedy would become of him if he disobeyed.

He knew the very moment stepping off the railroad car he was trapped… now there was no turning back. The blue skies had disappeared long ago replaced by dark and foreboding black holes with intervals of nothingness. The angel of death was abroad, lurking behind some innocent facade, being rewarded for surprising this beaten traveller.

This physical return trek was no place for man to boldly go, for Jim’s gruesome journeys lasted for years, or so it seemed, though the actual miserable train confinement was measures in hours, but hours held the ‘Sword of Demoniacs’… forever present. His own Gordian Knot, no swift blade existed to delete the mental lunacy struggling for peace, always reaching no answer to this particular endless riddle.

So often, in the past, believing he had escaped his near fate, only to repeatedly hear this dreaded dominant voice dictating surrender terms. This time was the total conclusion of his life’s worth, knowing regardless what he truly wished for, had no chance in hell of coming true. Here he was, on the final dragging saunter towards his own demise.

Now outside the melancholy train station, Jim forced himself to take the first step along the cold streets of early morning, recalling his school days being regimental constructed by one domineer individual above all else. Jim once held illusions of being free from persistent bulling which made him do things, terrible things, he did not want to do. He constantly received harsh treatment at the hands of a demon, such as the leather belt, the feared rod complete with several kicks to surrender to absolute domination.

Though, he had since inflicted far worse things so demeaning, so horrific, he was scared even to think about them. Here and now, the truth was he was more entangled than ever. Now, he had to pay the ultimate price because as everybody knows, it’s impossible to keep them out… eyes are everywhere.

Coming to the horrifying but familiar tenement entrance, Jim took one last deep breath of cleansed air shaking uncontrollably as entering the mouth of the wally close inside making the final steps. A knock on the door… a turn off the handle he opened the ingress and called once again in unadulterated surrender;

Hallo Mother; it’s me?

Next piece to follow
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peter.howden
DESPERATE

LONELY;

If the doorbell goes again I will make no effort to answer and pretend I am not in. it is just kids playing ‘ring-bang-squish’. We played it when we were young, tying pieces of string around the handles of the doors. It did make us laugh as the occupants shouted abusive swear words. I would have liked to have had kids of my own, but it was just not to be, and I could not do anything about it.

There has not been one living soul stepped over this threshold for quite a long time. There was one doctor some two years back, when that awful Asian flu struck terror in the neighbourhood, but I still had to rise out of my sick bed and collect my prescription. He was not my real doctor, for apparently Dr Stein, dour man but good, has gone to the big hospital in the sky, I’m not sure her reached such high heights. The very young squirt was a stand-in locum, whatever that means, but he did ask some questions and had cold hands if I remember.

there was that nauseating wee man, trying to sell double glazing, put his foot forcibly in the door, ready to march right in, but patch stopped him dead, by showing his teeth. Patch was actually George’s dog, but the pet took to me because I would slip a wee treat his way when no one was looking. So, when George, my husband past away, patch and I became a couple.

Patch cross over to sleep forever and his body is buried out in the back green. I often pat the grass growing there, wishing him goodnight… every night. It is a terrible confession however I miss patch more than George. If you ever met George, you would probably understand why. He could find fault with an angel … wonder if he has met any… doubt it….miserable old git

We were not all that close as feelings were seldom shown, other than when George lost his temper over something trivial come to light, blaming me, which he did quite frequently yet you get used to someone’s ways, don’t you?... I think sort of miss him.

I do wish those kids would stop ringing the bell…EastEnders is coming on and it is not the same with the sound down

Goodnight Patch
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Content

Some say you have to travel far, and wide to find any state of Utopia, or the elusive Shangri-La or any of the elusive seven heavens, and this may be truer…yet it is reputed the hardest of all is to hold true tranquillity within life… or life itself. This may seem quite an unreachable fairy-tale claim, but in my mind, I have experienced abundant contentment, being wholly at peace, not only with the world but more importantly, with myself, and brother it was way-out sublimely exhilarated.

I would say there have been two handfuls of surprising awe-inspiring, glow of freedom times entered in my life, with total ignorance or concern of what was happening outside my bubble. The thing which is amazing is how simple they turned out to be.

Several years ago, I was on the road around France, I stopped at the magic family’s abode, taking advantage of their hospitable natures, for free bed and lodgings in their medieval village. The following morning with the sun high and bright in a blue sky, they packed the car, to go swimming in ‘Bassin Du Lampy Neuf’ which supply’s water for the famous and fabulous Midi Canal. It was such a grand day weather-wise, I decided to saunter around the man-made waterway.

On reaching the other side I came across a small burn, cascading through several rocky patches before running into the main reservoir. Several small pools formed as its water flowed, attracting lots of Mayflies, Dragon flies in multitude of bright colours, a host of summer Moths, while fish with coated pigments, having amazing alterations…swam below. Countless timorous and cheeky wee beasties were a feast for the eyes, along with mini turtles, even though of unknown origin, just blew the cobwebs my mind. I sat there, just sitting there for nearly an hour, totally enchanted by nature wonders and boy what a treat. This short but unforgettable enchanted time was the crème de la crème, for me of the whole trip.

Years before, Rebecca and I visited the Pam and Jack Honey, (again gratis accommodation), down Cornwall way, who preferred to stay in their chalet, in Freathy, built by Jack… and who could blame them. Could be a wild place but never missed being a fabulous rugged beauty beyond words. What a holiday filled with kindness and laughter. The very last night I was having difficulty sleeping, I rose and wandered through to the living room where Jack had constructed a wall to wall, panoramic window to see right to the horizon …and beyond… if with a little bit of imagination.

It was a still clear night, whilst all was quiet in the house. I poured out a healthy glass of special whisky from Jack’s stock, then sat just staring out to the moon lit calm sea and the twinkling sparkling stars. Over on the right-hand corner there was the harbour town lights of Loo, but apart from that, all else was nature in the raw. What a wonderful couple of hours of sheer nothing apart from sips of the ‘Water of life’ and boy what a life.

The Algarve was an experience of tranquillity away from the madding crowd in the Praia Da Rocha hotel. The pleasant staff were at your beck and call which suited us, as ‘She who must be obeyed’ lazed around the palm trees surrounding the swimming pool, sipping a cool orange drink while reading a novel. Everything was inexpensive compared to buying power in Britain however when one sunny day, and there were many while we were there, I strolled some three kilometres upriver from the main town Portimao. A casual walk took me to a family café where the beer was a pittance compared to the low-priced resort.

As usual with foreign tongues, I could only master a few words of Portuguese, mainly ‘Obrigado’, Por favor and ‘Hora’; But I could tell by their body language, the occupants inside the café were a multitude of generations of a family, presuming to be related to the owner. I sat in the corner fascinated with the everyday goings on within as outside I also kept an eye on a fisherman working old fashion way, straight from the bible days, by being waist deep and casting his triangle net.

Again, totally transfixed with the whole ambiance, the time just flew by before I realized I should make my way back …in case my Scottish Ayesha was worried.

These three precious times gave just a glimpse into peace of the heart, but worth every single magical moment and I rate myself very lucky to have experience them

Muito Obrigado
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peter.howden
Jim Steps;(2)

Jim stepped into the doorway he had sworn, so many years ago, never to return … now… at this tense moment, something unexplainable entered his mind, searching to find the spunk, or a credible reason, not to ‘do a runner’, returning back where he came from… but at that precise moment, he could not recall where this was. Raw nerves blocked any practical logic as dread caused a dehydrated choking gullet, combined with aggressive sweat invading uncontrollably over all his skin.

There had been no response to his call, so gingerly moving towards the scullery, he called out again for his mother to hear, but still no answer. Stealthily opening the stiff door ajar, seeing there was no sign of life or activity, no kettle, pots, or pans on the black, back to back, lead range. Memories flooded back to always being a kettle on the boil and home-made soup during the periods of good times but murky goings-on always to presidency over such homely content.

Without warning, the kitchen door scraped open, standing there was Jim’s mother…not a single word passed her tiny lips as she stood there, motionlessly staring in despair. Jim desperately wanted to rush forward, hold her so tenderly as possible, begging forgiveness…but now also stood absolutely still.

Then the door opened fully, providing a recognizable dark figure behind the nimbleness of his mother…it was his father. Somehow, he was now in front of the lean figure, and displaying displeasure at being disturbed

Jim’s memory whisked through so many years, thoughts he had buried deep in his unconscious mind, so long in the grinded past. The common denominator was a sadness, then bitter apology for not seeing the continuous woe his mother bore and the destruction of her very personality, due to the liquor avarice, and blackness of this bleak hearted man. Jim clenched his raised fist ready, and able, to knock the living daylights out of this brute.

Striding forcibly forward, reaching his target only finding a pitiful being, crouched to avoid any just punishment. At a final glance towards his mother, her facial features change into a known expression he had never forget. In all the rumpus and misery spread by this man, but more important the wrongs Jim knew he himself had done, and unable to stand up to this sly brute…his mother always had that look, just between mother and son.

Jim stopped in his tracks, leaving the squatted body alone, turned slowly towards his mother and seeing a slight smile brightening her forlorn disposition as her figure seemed to evaporate.

Jim found himself on a train travelling somewhere, unexpectedly understanding this was just an allusion, playing havoc on his mind. It also sealed two things…you can’t change the past… no matter how you try… and loathing someone, over any time period, just festers and hurts you alone….
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peter.howden
Wee Willie;

When Wee Willie voice broke, he was unable to carry a tune or sing the way people would be glad to listen. Although he dearly wish to try on stage again as a boy had performed a solo in the extravaganza B. B. concert week, held each year in the infamous ‘Empire Theatre. However now no public engagements, though salvation came in the manner of driving alone on motor journeys, were a welcome God send. Locked safely cocooned in his own mote mobile, able to render and Croke like a frog… anytime, anywhere, anything roughly musical he wished… when Willie wished.

While there is no one in the house, he grabbed a brush pole, and electrified the old record player, then swing with the music, moving like Mick Jaguar ‘Walking the dog’, the absolute supreme escalade, scaling in his own wee melodious world.

Wee Willie and his wife ‘Toty Hen’ were invited to a dance held in a T.T. hall Whiteinch (a half posh area of Glasgow) held some weeks away. When the night finally arrived, Wee Willie was suffering with a sore throat and runny nose, caused by a virus straight from the gates at Acheron. Toty Hen suggested sucking mentholated sweets, to combat the vocal problem, helping not to spoil what promised to be a swinging night.

The Glaswegian couple sat down, surrounded by family members, and Wee Willie ordered a soft drink for him and the usual round of spirits for everyone else. Wee Willie had already promised Toty Hen he would not touch a drop of the dreaded alcohol, as I had a very early shift next morning at work. She insisted too much consuming liquor and colds don’t mix, which Wee Willie disagreed with… but I daren’t not tell her...as he wanted to live.

As Wee Willie grudgingly sucked his lozenges away, he glanced with envy at my friends, particularly his brother in law (a sailor cabin boy, who knows the rest) swirling down the water of life which flowed seemingly endless.

Wee Willy now found it necessary to go to the loo, preparing to go with the flow, but totally pissed off because he could not carry a melody, especially with such a clinical pastille in his gub. Instantly…Wee Willie decided he had had enough, deciding to join my comrades of real drinkers. But his first action was to rid himself of the lousy cough tablet… so spat it out there and then.

It bounced off the stainless-steel sheet in front of him, then hit a partition made of the same rigid stuff, landing, and staying stuck fast on the smallest target in that tight-fitting toilet…his privates.

The fellow using the next bowl quips as he peeked over. “That’s a fancy way to carry a tune
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peter.howden
My Chronicles 24/06/2018


Lately we have found it emotionally hard, and tangled inner thoughts concerning Aunt Becky, more so for Rebecca, who has a lifetime of secret memories from way back, being so close to her grannie in Allander St, where Becky and uncle David looked after the aging lady. It was certainly not easy for them both, due to the wee woman’s unadulterated feistiness, and latter down right blinded stubbornness, making it a full-time job for Becky up to the end in 1969.

Aunt Becky is no longer the lady with unstoppable vim determination, or set purpose, now seemingly lost in parts of her unawareness, which we couldn’t either connect with or explain. Several weeks ago, it became noticeable how far locked within her mind Becky was, hindering her capability of recognition of either Rebecca or myself. This now became just a passing chance. Although forewarned as to the gravity of such a disease, and its consequences, it was a hard-emotional blow for us personally.

She appeared to be in a near relentless walking dream with reality unreal, with all her tenacity evaporated. Appreciating we were being selfish, for the main factor was Aunt Becky’s welfare and security, and we should seek information from the peoples in the know…the home’s workers. Luckily, I manage to talk to staff within the home, and several doctors who work continuously with the people coping with varies degrees of dementia. Their information proved invaluable to ease our minds and think out of the box.

Becky, on the whole is comfortable, although alone inside her thoughts, but still having numerous temperament swings, as well as physically shrinking. Becky’s appearance of health will alter due to this, and possibly just because she is confused. I do my best to take her for a wee hurl around the ‘Kilpatrick hills’ and today she sort of recalled who I was but confusingly she called me a conman from Possilpark…well at least one was right.

Last time it was raining ‘cats and dogs’ the whole journey, but I believe she enjoyed it, not only for the ‘Tartan Top Twenty’ I have on my IPod, or the sweets…but just for the scenery and the hell of it. The window wiper of my side snapped and refused to wipe…making the last half hour torturous, due to the fact I could not see out my side, so while driving I leaned over to the passenger’s side. I reckon Aunt Becky thought I was being an oddball…as usual.

Last Tuesday, it was in my diary, to flee down to Ayr, for a few refreshments with my China Jim Hendry. Jim phoned on the Monday to cancel because he had been suffering sweating and just feeling terrible. So much so he called the doctor. I must admit he did sound rough and croaky…but in the back of my mind, I did wonder if it was because he was on the bell…. typical of an Ayrshire man…will find out this Tuesday. I do treasure both the journey and the company …always looking forward to them. Magic.
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peter.howden
A paying lodger

Hammie desperately looking for somewhere to lodge for the next two weeks. His present landlady unpredictable fashion conscious Jewish woman, abruptly was to remodel her entire house due to some member of a guild, boasting of her son, the doctor, paying for comprehensive renovation works in her already gorgeous home. Not to be outstepped, Hammie’s charming proprietor instantly retorted she was having the sheik ornamentalist(decorator) free range to embellish her home.

Hammie’s desperation came two-fold, his secure lodgings was comfortable both in rent and accommodation, plus his precious frivolous widowed landlady was generously kind, forgiving if he was late with the rent. The cuddly female informed Hammie, she had already walked through with the now appointed interior decorator, who artfully advised his labour would only take 10 days to complete…guaranteed

Glancing through her discarded ‘Herald’ newspaper, Hammie came across one tiny advert for an ornate suite overlooking the spacious natural garden. The suite contained up to date washing facilities, with plenty running water, plus heating at the touch of a button. You must come in person to see if you suit the rest of the clientele, was the instructions on the newspaper’s page. ‘Understandable’ thought Hammie considering the area where the dwelling was situated.

The main attraction for him, was a key for its own entrance, making his comings and goings private. The only snag was the cost…also it was two weeks in advance. Working out his finances, he realized there were few pennies left. On the plus side, he could pay the large rent up front, then when the two weeks were up, say he must move to another employment out of town… or some excuse to leave in a hurry.

Hammie managed to store most of his collection of belongings in a friend’s father’s garage (unknown to pater), then head for the very posh district, as fast as his wee legs, and the subway, could take him… before it was snatched away by a student or something.

Arriving eager at the massive doorway of the address, he wiped his shoes at the back of each leg, then pulled the big brass doorbell handle, it sounded like a military tune of sorts until the massive door opened by a lovely middle-aged lady. He stepped in gingerly and near stood to attention. The lady mentioned she was undoubtably please with me and laid out the rules of the house.

She shyly asked for the advanced payment, plus key money, and the Yale for his apartment. Her mood seemed to change rather quickly as she instructed him to go through a certain door, down the stairs and third on the left…then herself departed out of sight…. never to be seen again

Hammie found himself in a dingy cellar, the third room on the left was a converted coal-bunker. The view to the garden was a poky wee window, next to a sink with only an ice-cold water tap….in the dead of winter. The running water was down all sides walls, and the instant heat switch was a slot-coin one bar fire. Because of the lack of funds, Hammie was stuck there running out of the readies.

Reduced to eating cold pie each day…using in a public convenience (a cludgie) for hot water…. he experienced an emptiness no words to reach of explain…right in the midst of posh metropolitan.
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peter.howden
; PEEWEE’S PARIS AGAIN

During one of the many times, at a close summers evening, while strolling between the Sand-dunes of crisp Saltcoats and Stevenson, happy as Larry, my concentration was disturbed by what now is a familiar sound of deliberate pecking noise trying to gain my attention. Sure enough, there stood my mentor as I swung my head to face inwardly towards the broken shore.

Exhibiting himself magnificently, with a full moon beaming majestically on his plumages inspiring an illusion of grace he justifiably deserved. “Hallo”, for he could talk though apparently only I could hear… and if truth be told, I alone could actually see him. Strangely, he would appear when I was sauntering in Saltcoats, after a few refreshments at local hostels, making my way, homeward bound along the stretch of seashore. He had previously explained all this by the fact he took his breaks around Saltcoats, and who was I to doubt him?

“Salut?”, straining in case I did not hear him, and I replied “Hi”, adding how I was just back from my holidays. Peewee dignifiedly stated, he also foreign lands, visiting Paris. Knowing through past conversations. How Peewee, well before the Auld Alliances in 1295; the magical protective bird of Glasgow, had flown to the French capital, then Orleans, as a sort of Ambassador of the humble Glaswegian. Now the very strange fact was; I too had just returned from a memorable visit to this quixotic city. Now… is this mere coincidence or something spookier.

I sat down on the dune, easing my aching legs as age was catching up fast, however… my mentor, and friend, confident, and sometimes companion, had not aged since first we meet. This was due to his unexplainable powers. Taking out Uncle David’s cherish flask, I took a sip or two, just to take the chill out of the air.

Peewee, being in a sombre mood, decided it was right to carry on talking; “Birds, particularly Pigeons, have no idea how lucky they are in this day and age. During and after ‘Ragman Roll’ birds landed of the food table of lords and Kings, more than they do now”. Being fair game only for the elite, Fattened geese, pheasants and swans, anything that flew, walked, or crawled or wriggled, ran the gauntlet to survive…the poor endured existence!”

Peewee continued after checking his beak, “taken for granted… deemed ‘Beautiful Turkey Farms’ down Norfolk way (weird birds these turkey things, but then again, if you were locked up, in windowless digs, then chopped to pieces around 26 weeks old; you would act rather strangely).

The lowly Chicken production lines are horrifyingly against their nature, but apart from an “Odd ball or two” we free birds have it relatively easier than the middle ages. Pigeons were used to carry secret and important messages…. what did the gain for their tireless endeavours? Hooked on a cooking roost!”

Peewee, in a castaway manner mentioned he influenced the ‘Hoi Polloi’ in Luteria (Roman name for Paris of today) when the valiant Vercingetorix freed the Celts from bondage to Caesar. Sort of true historic; “Asterix the Gaul”, which all the French, appear mad about this wee cartoon character. I reckon Peewee himself came over to Glasgow via the Celtic search for new lands, always maintaining we are all brothers beneath these feathers. This is what I think in more sober times though right then I was just enjoying the krack.

Peewee told me of previous visits and had watched how it had grown through the ages. It is all spruce and span now with pumped water to clean the streets at different times throughout the districts of Paris, allowing the bird population to have fresh clean running water at any given time of the day. It is not only birds the Parisians care and tends for. Even the mice have miniature carpets, almost in every street gutter so the numerous rodents can wipe their paws before entering a household looking for cheese; obviously.

In his opinion….the claimed unity between countries, ruled by Kings, despots within the gentry, inside what is now considered ‘Europe? same as today, as the middle ages, every man for his self-importance …nothing to do with the best for the country…or its people

Peewee prepared to continue
peter.howden
Our first family holiday

Very early this morning I watched a rag, tag, and bobtail of a family, gaily trekking towards Easterhouse railway station. Father humphing a large rucksack, plus several makeshift containers. The mother, (I presume) trundling a trolley, carrying large handbag, chalk a block with miscellaneous items peeking out. Four kids carrying various sizes of kit-bags according to age, while Grandpa brought up the rear…slowly. This smashing charming scene brought memories flooding, reminded me how our families behaved, heading for our first excursions, down by loch Lomond.

When our kids were really young, with Toni the oldest aged five, Nikki the youngest aged three, and Chris in the middle, we all packed up, aiming for Easterhouse railway station, holding a family ticket, bought the week previous, for return train journey to our railway end... Balloch. The one main difference from the family I saw today was…I was humphing rucksack but also trailing a large old-fashioned canvas army tent, tied tightly to the twisted frame of a battered old wheelie shopping trolley+ a big golfer’s umbrella.

Everyone excitingly clambered on the coach, managed seats all together, to enjoy the view of the countryside, as we headed for our very first summer adventure. Arriving at the picturesque village at the famous loch’s tail, the troupe made our way to the old road for Luss, began walking some few odd miles to reach our final destination, a small olden bridge over a burn, which I recalled camping many years previously.
Understandably, our youngsters tired quickly, so I ended up carrying most of the gear, but like true troupers they did carry on without moaning…much

This small haven strip where the burn’s fresh water ran into Loch Lomond belonged to ‘Scottish Heritage’, we were trespassing, but money was limited, and this quaint scene was ideal, so… we tumble down and set up camp, completely concealed and unseen from the roadside.

Passing the time of day playing all kinds of games, including hide and seek, statues, rounders, to almost exhaustion. I reckon Rebecca and I relished all of this just as much as the children…possible even more. The one duty for me being, each day going for the essentials, such as fresh fruit and the like, walking trip to the nearest shop, around 7 miles return, however occasionally I was in luck catching a bus back.

The burn had some deepish pools where we put our precious milk and bottled water (ginger bottles filled at home) which I refilled at the bus station. The year was 76, a belter of a heatwave which made camping a pleasure though keeping cool after a few days was an exertion. We devised ways to achieve this. During intervals from exploring the wonders of nature which surround us, the kids splashed away in the burn almost all day. Because we were isolated from anything, Rebecca in knickers and blouse or tee-shirt, which I found somewhat a distraction…an itch I could not scratch

For my cooling down period, i would take a beer out of the brook, purchased at the shop the day before. In my mind this treat was requisite for survival out in the wilderness. Along the deeper part of the running burn, picking wild brambles while wadding was a luxury both ways. Also, small fish would peck away at the hairs on my leg…strange mysterious sensation.

Chris and I had something in common on the last few days…homosexual horse flies…they attacked us both viciously… but not the girls at all…. isn’t nature a mystery.
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peter.howden
Funny Bits;

Hopping Pullover

We have to take a leap of faith to improve our exports of Scottish lamb and wool industries. In Australia they also have sheep and some of them suffer the same problems that ours do, including animal version of T.B. After many scientific studies seem to prove ten out of ten Kangaroo appear not to suffer from this far-reaching infectious disease. After significant clinical test, achieved with whiter coats, inhale consumption. Now for ordinary peoples to understand such complexity of those results…they give the inkling to be one jump ahead and it is the power of leaping which prevents the spread of this terrible transferable ailment.

To hedge our bets and capture an initiative before it bounds away into the sunset, the Scottish Executive have passed an emergency bill named ‘Caledonia’ (Latin is used in all medical matters) to issue every single ewe in the land of our clan fathers ;Pogo sticks and teach the knack of using such high Technical instrument which would pass over the heads of us mere mortal.

The sheer running benefits are in three main ways. Firstly, the sheep springing around on pogo sticks will not be on the ground at any given time, stopping them from catching T.B, from these nasty little badgers that, if our researcher is correct, spread this terrible thing. Owing to Methodical investigation the fact came up that spitting is one main way in spreading this terrible sickness calamity; it can only be assumed those naughty elfin Badgers are going through the undergrowth not caring a spit where they spit.

Secondly; we will boost the quality of Scottish wool by many fold and maybe, just maybe, we will bounce into world markets and rank closely to cashmere or mohair. All the free range soaring through the natural air constantly, the flow ejecting from this effort would soften the wool to a high degree as time and nature progressed, the fleeces would turn almost golden. It may all be Greek to the layman but it is inevitable the grade of the pelts would come on by leaps and bounds. Also, as a sideline, all this exercise and balancing signify muscles of a larger per potion would mean superior growth in the limbs area and so a leg of lamb would leap on the plate and go further for the housewife.

In the third benefit is the expense in teaching these animals the skill needed to operate such strenuous manoeuvres would only have to be paid once. When the second generations watch their peers confidently pogo-ing, they being sheep, will follow like sheep but do not mistakenly believe that sheep have only sheep’s brains for other scientific test proved beyond any doubt, they have a far greater intelligence than first believed.

It must be pointed out though those particular tests three of the experts were reported to be in love with their subjects. This may put a cloud over their findings or maybe the trio felt that a sacrifice was necessary for the sake of science but feeling a bit of a goat when going public. We should not delve into other unproven actions just count our luck sheep it was not us.

The major drawback in all this bouncy activity is the plain old sheepdog. The very fact thousands of flying sheep will be springing all over the place, re-appearing out of the blue as far as the mutts eye view is concerned, this could cause havoc with a mutts mind. These dogs are used to lying down and awaiting sheep to stroll by before leaping into action but the mere fact the lambs are going to helix on them at such a rate , it can be visualized whole batches of brave pooches, will have mental breakdowns and this could prove costly.

The vet bills alone would vault out of control followed closely rest homes for these unfortunate eccentric mongrels where they could have forty winks without sight of sheep with a spring in their step.

Can I count on you, if not counting sheep, to sleep on this new brave idea.[/size][size="3"]
peter.howden
My Chronicles 04/07/2018

Perhaps being somewhat presumptuous about luck, yet not a cat with nine lives, having done some daft things in my life, I reckon being a tad fluky. No matter how I try balancing a constant rational nature, or having an attitude nourished with good common sense in dealing with what life has to offer, there are times the sums do not add up. Conceivably it would be utterly monotonous to be happy all the time, missing the excitement created, and enhanced, where gloom disperses having reigned supreme earlier.

My own “Somewhere over the rainbow” emerges, or the nearest thing to it without wearing or clicking red shoes, not to mention meeting the ‘wicked witch of the east’ the tyrant of ‘Munchkin County’ of the Oz books. I know I’m mixing up books and film adaption, for “J Baum” series of stories had the ‘Nome king’ controlling supremo in villainy.

To be truthful, Oz is a bit heavy for me, being more inclined to a swift gander at “The Broons”; from 11 Glebe St; Auchentogle…along with ‘Oor Willie’ residing within Auchenshoogle (same place spelt different) from the Sunday Post. This newspaper each week travels further than any other rag, to the four corners of the world. Here is a piece of useless information… there was a real Glebe Street, old Glasgow with a saloon called “Broons Bar” at the corner.

This fictional ageless family; ‘Paw, Maw, Hen, Daphne, Joe, Maggie, Horace, the twins and the Bairn, along with good auld Granpaw. Their shenanigans with their ‘Jings’, ‘whit daft idiot’ and ‘Aye aff ye nae mair’; were the talk of the steamie and would be still, if such gossip halls, and conveniences, were not closed in the name of progress. Way of life marches on but some things stay within examples of family life regardless of hardship, your friends…your word…are all important.

There is no simple answer to life, for if there was, then we would all be Gods (Greek or otherwise) on Mount Olympus, rumoured to have responsibilities, however, we are far from this sort of deity. We accept our friends’ short comings because they are just as they are a pal or a china, as we Glaswegians may say.

There is something very soothing communicating with a friend, regardless of the distance or the time gap. For me, it has a magic power all of its own… the rudiment is simply; he, or she, or them…are long standing friends.

My constant welcoming lover, mother and companion is ‘She who must be obeyed’ who has given me so much pleasure possessing an uncanny knack of surprising me…nine times nine. Once, presenting me with gift wrapped apron acquired from tokens with purchases of ‘Lurpak’ butter. She certainly has the quote down to pat………’It’s not the gift, but the thought that counts’. In the near future, when I display this kitchen garment as visitors arrive, I will say I’m not hen pecked…I picked the colour myself.

The latest surprise was pure magic, taking more thought, being on my wish list for some time…. a miniature authentic statue of ‘The Thinker’(originally cast as the poet Dante; at the gates of hell). I don’t believe in the 9 circles in the long poem ‘Devine Comedy’… however… I like the thinking…. And the thinking of ‘She who must be obeyed’
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peter.howden
ANIMAL VOTE

The young lady’s name, to give her a label,
Was not petite, just plain Mabel?
Sturdy, robust and stable
Though for sensitive advice, was able;

Her younger brother was called Rodger,
Evil, surprisingly simple little codger,
Who, imagined he was a artful dodger,
Just one of life’s wee shifty forger:

They lived in a house of brick and stone,
Because of their age they didn’t live alone,
There was father and muter and Dobby Malone,
A strange ginger cat suffering kidney stone;

Rambling around the building; room to room,
Always alone while whistling a tune,
Guarding themselves with a big wooden spoon,
Through great halls up and Doon.

Now the reason for this lengthily story
Is that father was standing to be a Tory,
Muter filled with pride and felt glory,
However, Mabel called it “Jackanory;

She stated as she blinked her eyes,
Those politicians do nothing but lies,
Rodger disagreed with those ties,
Raised glass of wine, “here’s mud,” he sighs
;
The cat Dobby Malone, been quiet through that,
Silently had been squatted on his mat,
Gave his opinion as he rose from where he sat,
Strolled over and pissed all over Father’s hat.
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peter.howden
Dear Diary; 06/07/2018;

‘As you sow, so shall you reap’ is a famous quotation or saying, however I must have accidently scattered inadvertently one or two seeds somewhere along the line. It can’t be said I have always played fair or did things in a dignified manner but if our home-grown garden strawberries have anything to do with it, perhaps in my case it should be ‘What you sow, so shall you reap’.

Wimbledon continues dominating our large and small screens, as the sun blazes down on the affluent audience, reputed to be sipping Roberson barley water, (Aye; with spirit) waiting for the ‘Crème de Crème’ in the manner of false fruits and cream deluxe…strawberries. There are rumours, you need a tidy mortgage just to purchase such a delight.

Many years ago, I was instructed by a Mr Swan, the best time to pick strawberries was midnight. The reason why was not explained to me or I have forgotten, but Mr Swan was the master…and I… grasshopper.

Last night at the stroke of twelve, I ventured out and in torchlight managed to scrounge some more precious Strawberry drupes from exhausted stalks.

Within our tiny allotment given for the growth of home spun delicious and juicy strawberries, almost depleted from the first harvest. In fact, then amazingly gave four yields…and spread so far as they did. It was down to pure will power… even in the mist of such excitement given by some nail-biting performances.

Now we can watch the outcome of this famous tournament, in relative comfort, knowing stocks will last if we are frugal. Our problem now is, if a British national racket reaches the final, for no matter how we do the maths… one solitary strawberry will be left

We will share the delights but how come so? Will we cut it in equality half …? or will we be more daring and passionate, by sucking it to and fro, through French kissing? If the latter is palatable… then how do, we keep the strawberry in cream?
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peter.howden
Forlorn;

The building was dilapidated slum, neglected down to the ground; though at one unknown stage, converted into separate flats. The actual front door lay awkwardly on rusty hinges, a poor image for once built by a family living on the trade riches of tobacco. At the beginning of the 20th century, became the pride of good honest hard-working Glaswegian families, a city residence. The condemned unsafe building, ought to have been flattened, not tattered up to its last legs, as the absentee landlord squeezed every penny possible, with no humane feelings but an iron cast heart.

The clatty hallway gave a horrible clue as apprehensiveness followed everyone who may have knocked the grubby door on purpose or by accident. Step by step, each flat hastily turned into separate rooms, such squalor smell, so pungent at the door and beyond.in one isolated chamber could only be described as a midden, lay a trollop, even she herself may have forgotten her Christian name. It was Kate or Cathy to some.

Everything touched was sticky almost jammy without the sweetness but instead a suffocated odour prevailed a fustiness of rotten mushrooms. No sign of cooking while a couple of empty MacDonald’s take ways lay in no order on couch… one perched up in a corner like a motionless pet. The staleness of smoking was not only caustic on the eyes but got right up the nose

Kate must have had a recognizable female form which had been hidden for years in dowdiness and neglect. Her children had long since flown the nest, while no one ever heard of a mention of her man except in times of real delirium, she scripted as “blooming bastard” over and over again. In moments of sanity her mind was frantic with half-baked ideas or languished in memories she alone was merely a toy


Her childhood recalls was her bony mother telling her when times get hard, she would go to the fruit market and pick up bashed fruit and vegetables from the gutter or rake through once the market stalls were closed. “You will never go wrang with a bowl of soup” her mother’s words rang in Kate’s sober brain more often than she cared to remember. She was too proud to demean herself.

One thing was true, this was she never stooped to prostitution for she was not a gal like that; even though she had kept her looks but only in her mind and not in the mirror. She did sleep with strangers she meets at the local country club but that was just for an extra swally. Now even the cattiest bloke demanded her to wash before he would entertain a fumble never mind sex Kate had no conception of time just awake with sweat and aches, searching her abode for a drop of something alcoholic. Blacked out periods she had no idea .

Religion was lost, apart from the occasional hand out…devoid of meaning with less appreciation, more annoyance for having to mumble three verses of “Jesus saves”. It was deemed as a furnished flat, because of a bed a wardrobe and drawers of some description and a thread bared rug and the side; for this the social paid blood money to the cockroach of a proprietor

The authorities were forced to open the dingy single den, complaints of rats lose in the crumpled construction. Kate’s door revealed an over-profusion of smells in darkened corners, even when they don’t exist. She lay slumped, oblivious in death as she was in life. A lone anxious voice says this should not happen again as the mawkit door is closed over. No one comes to the funeral

Within a heartbeat some other poor lost soul in accommodated in Kate’s old dodgy flat
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peter.howden
Foretastes of a 60s adolescent

Local

Today parents and teachers are concerned about the adverse influence of the instant internet and the obsessional use of mobile phone by almost all the inhabitants of the world, perhaps except for over 70s club. You can tell the age of a person by how they use, or abuse the modern miracle, almost everyone twiddles with the knobs and buttons playing games or waiting for a disposable Email…. more sedate people just say ‘Hallo?’. However, in the golden generation, 40/50s, parentages and educators held the many cinemas and films as a curse of morality, waylaying of the youth away from decency and reality.

As a sprouting boy (though never sprouted much), the post-war generation held a different point of view, no matter how often Harold Macmillan, with jorries in his mouth, proclaiming; “You will see a state of prosperity such as we have never had in my lifetime ... "Indeed, let us be frank about it - most of our people have never had it so good”, nearly every city was dull and drab.

The cinema, for all ages was an escape…even for just a few hours. With the end of the hostilities just a decade before, rationing finally over, the people and the economy struggling to recover, watching every penny, also acute lack of accommodation existed, while in the cinema you could lose yourself in a crowd…in private

During the week, my brother John, allowed me to listen to Radio Luxembourg (208) on his fabulous crystal set, with Dan Dare, pilot of the future, Dick Barton, and Pete Murry’s top twenty…and an odd ball memory man.

Nevertheless, the visit to the A.B.C. minors on a Saturday morning was the cake of the week. The cinema was always jumping with kids, and weans of all ages, gripping tightly their pokes of sweets and innocent faces glowing thru unbridled eagerness…. bursting to see the next instalment of the coming live serial on the huge bright screen. This was their reality.

Afterwards outside the building, and right along each street nearby, you could tell the main feature that morning, by the actions of the fledgling audience either riding horses in their minds, while skelping their bums ardently, shooting anything in sight with appropriate noises provided from the sides of their mouths, Shooting arrows with whooshes, or the all-time favourite…. dummy sword fighting with anything at hand.

As I grew older things changed slightly, believing I was mature, though in truth still wet behind the ears and an enthusiastic Spotty ‘Alfred Newman’ of ‘Mad’ magazine, reading the American issue, from cover to cover on any dreary Sunday to survive with my marbles not bouncing off the walls. Sunday without tediousness was a novelty. In the north American continent,

Sunday was Thee Sabbath, the Lords day, but life and leisure were catered for. In some states, they worshiped in full swing, bawling forth their message, telling all who cared to listen, not to fornicated or drink the devils brew. Carrying on how they once did so…but now they were saved… I often wondered if they were boosting or complaining.

Roughly around that time, partaking some bike movies, including ‘Teenage Devil Dolls One-Way Ticket to Hell’, and the famous; ‘The Wild One’…which influenced me to be involved with the motor bike circle. For a bet I took, I experienced and a nerve-racking, back pillion ride on a Triumph TR5-Trophy, hitting 100 M.P.H streaking up Parliamentary Road.
The meeting place café was at the corner of Calder St and Pollokshaws Road, the name escapes me now… but the sight of around forty leather jerkin clad blokes, yet only three or so bikes outside parked in the street, will never leave me. Later I owned an old banged up Triumph, we were not quite ‘Marlon Brando’ studs, or even his weak sidekicks… but boy… we wanted to be so much!
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peter.howden
My Chronicles 15/07//2018

Aunt Becky is innocently unaware what s taking place, wandering in a sort of inclusive bafflement most of the time, though, in the blink of an eye, unknown parts of her treasured memories momentary return, then whisked back into her secret reality. The truth of the matter is, when we go for a hurl in my old jalopy, as the ‘Tartan top twenty’ is playing (quite loudly) …. there is not only a spark of recall, but her face gives a hint of pleasure as she taps her feet, singing along to Kenneth McKellar and company.

Are we being selfish wanting her back as we remember, I think so…however, because we know she is safe, being taken care of, in the specialised Residential home for Dementia, much more than we could provide, there is a source of appreciation and contentment. In our minds we see Becky and Uncle David (a fine man) in their prime, although they were retired helping as best they could…the entire extended family.

Saltcoats holds lots of family reminiscences, for both ‘She who must be obeyed’ and I, as our kids were growing up on holidays, almost always with Nancy (the voice) on toe. Even now, on our visits to the well-worn seaside town, we see her almost every corner…but alas …it’s an allusion, or another wee granny rambling around. When by chance, looking up old diaries, glancing at old photos, to recall once again, just how chaotic sometimes it could be, with limited space and monies… The plain fact is…. it clears my mind, removing the cobwebs blocking fond memories locked in the inner hidden awareness. We were lucky having Salty (Chess Alcohol partner) both in Stevenson and Sandylands

My frequent excursions down to the Scottish ‘Bard’s town Ayr (former Royal Burgh), may appear, to the untrained eye, just an excuse to sip a few refreshments alone with a china. Perhaps there is some merit in this trail of thought however I would insist it is really a necessity. Grated rarely Jim Hendry and I do not venture far from Witherspoons… but we have a perfect logic why we persist using such a tavern…it is a place where we can talk absolute bollocks, with immunity, as most of the clientele are practicing the same skill…where we have conquered the masters elevation

It is a mixture of saying and listening to the most ridiculous things will result in constant laughter and genuine enjoyment. For me personally, the combination of traveling with the train taking the strain, and the easy company of Jim, is a safety valve…keeping my mind from going stale other times its beyond ludicrous. Ayr like Saltcoats and so many Scottish seaside towns and villages are struggling to keep a resemblance of an independent high street shopping area. The march of time takes no prisoners.

Last Thursday, while in the E.V.H office, I was involved interviewing capable applicants for the vacant director’s post within Calvay Housing. This will be my last so-called duty, as I am retiring from the committee of Calvay, once this important position is filled. After the business of the day had been concluded, I was taken by surprise, for E.V.H presented a beautiful long service trophy, and a magic bottle of single malt.

Uncommonly; I was speechless… I would like to gratefully thank the E.V.H organization, for such a considerate gesture… for me… the mere attention associated with giving such an honour, is an award equal to the now treasured mementos…now this did blow my mind.
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peter.howden
Second Holiday on the Loch;

My Family consisting of ‘She who must be obeyed’, and I, plus Toni, Chris, Nikki, all under the age of 6, resided in Glasgow’s, Easterhouse estate, in many ways mistakenly perceived as a notorious housing scheme. Money was scares, making any holiday rather limited, however owing to the amazing success the of 76 raw camping expeditions to Loch Lomond, we decided to repeat the adventurous excursion the following holiday… with a few additions…one being ‘The Voice’… the other was totty Brian…son of wee Brian

‘The voice’ was my nickname for Nancy, for tiny, down to earth mother-in-law, who was not averse to multi-coloured language when her dander as up…or down, come to think of it. She is a much-missed matriarch. Wee Brian, a work’s pal. Whose son, totty Brian was the most accident-prone kid we have ever met, Somehow, on a drizzly morning, both came to join us, for the start of our marathon expedition. Their input to the tale is moderately short… but crucial to our wellbeing

From Easterhouse railway station we could travel direct to Balloch, situated at the beginning of world famous Loch Lomond. Having good cheap family travel tickets from Strathclyde Transport, no changing in the middle or on to another train or additional transport, just straight through, offering us a highway to trek further with monies available. The previous glorious year, on the road to Luss, we camped secluded, just off at one side of an old bridge, arched over a burn,

Our only obstacle was from our house to the station was a mile, and the distance from Balloch to the ancient bridge being three and a bit mile… which was some effort when having young children and a very weighty canvas tent, plus equipment, borrowed from Uncle David an Aunt Becky Donnelly.

At this stage, it may be better to point out, our wains fondness for Granny was not exactly true…closer to the mark would be an awareness of tension, following anxiety, when she was around in case one or all three would be bundled home to stay the night with her, for she shouted a lot. When our kinds grew older their affections changed… but at this early age…. worry wavering was closer.

Setting off with a merry heigh ho’ for a brand-new adventure, even in the drizzly weather, trekking the half hour to our local station with the tent only falling off the wheels, twice. Having reached the loch-end, alighting from the locomotive, as dark heavy clouds moulded into a posse with vengeful …spitting sinister malevolent spirits swarmed above

This is not to say our spirits were dampened, or spirited away, as we prepare to embark on the final trek for the comfort of our own made camp… but Nancy needed a wee woodbine” before we stepped out of the station... This was normal for my mother-in-law, I knew she constantly smoked “woodbine”, the strongest cigarettes for its size, morning, noon, and night.

The small party continued, slow though it be, with the kids staying out of swiping distance from Granny, but not enough to get lost, as the cauld wet drizzle was seeping through our protective garments. Wee Brain’s son starting to wail worse than my mother in law, while poor Rebecca trying to boost everyone’s spirit by repeating “not long now” when in truth, she had no clue to where and how far “not long now” was.

We reach the old bridge, climbing over a dilapidated wire fence and trudging over a newly turned field we were at the burn, or running brook called by the true English, directly beside the stone support arch, in no time what so ever at all we had the tent up, a hot drink made with the help of a gas camping cooker placed under the bridge for safety reasons and all pally asses and kit and sleeping bags ready for all us exhausted bodies.

We had our Ps and Qs, washed our hands creped in and settled down for the night. It was cosy with all these different sizes of bodies squeezing in every nock and cranny taking ever available space allowed within …so with contented sounds I started to drift oft

I do not know how long it was, but I awoke with something wavering over my head and noise of heavy rain blending, overriding the sound of rushing water from the burn, and a craggy voice moaning over and over” Christ that’s all we need” …. while the source of the voice poked the canvas tent, affirming….’the f---ing rain is coming in’

The final episode…. The finger of destruction
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peter.howden
Second Holiday on the Loch;(2)

Being abruptly awakened in pitch-black strange surroundings, sensing foreign odd combination of aromas circulating within confined space, and a vague object swaying object above my drowsy head, made my reactions rather sluggish …trying to focus under the circumstances until I grasped where… and who… this stramsash was coming from.

Fumbling around for the trusty battery torch, then shinning it in the direction of the stooshie, revealing a ragged grey-haired Nancy…having jitters, but worse…far worse… she was poking ‘willy nilly’ the canvas above… with a probing finger. With every prod, the voice sobbingly croaked, ‘and its f—ing coming in here’, as more than a trickle of water invaded the sanctuary of our canvas covering retreat.

There was no time for words to Nancy… other than, ‘Please refrain from doing that’ but in an excited colourful Glaswegian tongue, then an emergency dash out of the tent clutching the week’s ration of sugar, in a vain attempt to seal up the already seeping areas. How successful I was I can not recall but early next morning is much clearer.

If the torch light had done no favours about Nancy’s panic appearance, the morning sunshine emphisised the old haggard witch image, with all her sorcery painfully removed…without consent. Now sitting on a log, crumpled up, blood drained from her face, puffing continuously from her wee woodbine’s. Every movement, every cough, every sputter, told the tale of an old lady who aged dramatically overnight.

One thing, both Rebecca and I agreed on…she would not survive a week camping. Another thing we knew her obstinacy would not allow her to give in.

Another camper was not in good spirits and this was toty Brain. During his brief stay he had manage to spill a plate of milk and cornflakes into his bag of cloths, tripped over the guy ropes of the tent…twice…fell in the burn…twice… and stood on a country pancake, just the once, but walked through the tent with the remains stuck to his sannies. I cannot recall who had the idea, but it solved two difficulties…with ease.

We asked Nancy if she would do us a favour and take toty Brian home as we were concerned for his safety…as he was ill-fated…at best. Within ten minutes she was packed and frog marching the unwilling toty Brian across the field to the road as the hourly bus was due anytime.

We silly five stayed there for ten more rainy days, with it only halting on the morning we were leaving. The highlight of each day was the duck family making there way down to the loch around about 6 in the morning…and returning 6 in the evening…with not one single quack between them.

Like many things which happens, everything came all right in the end, with one fact resulting from the experience…although Nancy came on our holidays regular through her life, she never came camping with us again. There is more to tell of this particular event but another time, for even after all this time, it plays funny recalling it...
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peter.howden

MIRRORS;

‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?’…While the law of mirrors develops, they don’t always reflect truly what’s in front of them. Looking in the looking glass, hoping youth will sparkle, seeping through the bevel of the reflector, but truth be known; on certain occasions, a stranger has invaded individual privacy, by taking my place… with eyes squeezed in startled misbelief…staring straight at me. If they existed, any magic mirror will never answer my request with, “you are fairest in the land”.

Good looks aren’t everything, though I suspect most of us hanker for them. I am of the belief the people we accept as being “ideal profile”, have their doubts and wanting’s. Part of Robert Burns quote “O wad some power that giftie gie us; to see oursels as others see us”. This ability I certainly do not wish for…I have enough problems accepting my profile, without bringing this wise scenario into play.

It appears to me…different mirrors give off diverse reflections, or perhaps alters the image because they are having an off day. Maybe, just maybe…the shaving mirrors throughout the land, are having a global day off, leaving a standard reaction, or predetermined proportions displayed in front of the polished surface. Whatever the reason… it changes my features quite dramatically and alarmingly.

The visual echo appears to choose when it will be kind or cruel, by simply reflecting the truth. The principle of light travelling super sonically just goes over my head, but… if there is so many millions of energy base droplets to create reflection or refraction vision, then it would not be discrediting Newton’s theory, if one or two bent a bit to cover the cracks.

Going in and coming out life’s survival course has knocked and rocked my appearance. No longer can a whisper in front of the looking glass; “Kookie; Kookie; (lend of his comb)” while looking into the bathroom mirror, combing my hair…. the golden flacks have all but gone.

On reflection, all this worry is not a penny’s worth of a tuppeny stamp. The old joke when asked about a certain ‘Will’ left by a miser of a Scotsman, the lady questioned the Solicitor, as to the lawful assists the deed” Is it legal. is it signed over a stamp?”. The reply was quick and sharp, “Madam; It’s written on the stamp; ~McPherson did not like waste!” Back to the blinking mirror

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peter.howden
On the carpet…

Quite a considerable time back in a certain metropolis’s history, Humphry had had problems with the mighty council’s halls of power, when the main compensation for the workforce of the baths department was near guaranteed, ‘a job for life’…however mostly lowly paid. Having more than a sight difference of opinion. dragged on for some time until Humph realized, it would be prudent to part company with such a dominating organization.

Wither Humph acted on principles or foolhardiness was now in the past, however the problem was simply employment…and where to seek it? During the upsetting period of service within the city structures, humph was sent to diverse departments, including the carpet cleaning squad. He swiftly decided to be self-employed, purchasing quite an expensive German carpet cleaning machine.

The main problem now was there were horde of adverts for such a service…so to emerge from the multitude, an individual promotion(gimmick) was paramount. The advert was “Cleaned, with supreme care…by hand”. It was not long before the word of mouth was enthusiastically providing patrons. The impression of seeing someone, down in the hunkers, seemingly sweating for a couple of hours, then the machines eliminating the surplus liquid, gave clients a feeling of value for monies. Humph could estimate and charge his own fee.

Humph soon found out, what he always knew, the very well off, along with ordinary people, were excellent at paying and providing hot tea on tap… even bites to eat, leaving him alone while working. The so-called middle class and the would-be snobs were the tricky buggers, eager to talk about a discount, or indeed extra work at the same agreed quote.

One such lady strongly hinted, then remarked regularly while coming into the room where the procedure was taking place, almost most of Humph’s stay… until he insisted being left alone, to complete the assignment. Once completed and seemingly happy with the result, she said in a serious tone, she felt… since Humph used her electricity…then a reduction should be made from the bill.

Humph…in a deadpan tone explained, “this is a ‘Karcher Puzzi 10/1 carpet cleaner’…probably the best German Cleaning machine in the world… this apparatus only borrows the electricity…then returns it to its source in the wall’…. She paid in full, without another word been spoked.
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peter.howden
My Chronicles 12/08//2018

Sadly, Aunt Becky is receding inward, to an indefinite existence, unable to recall almost anything without prompting…which must be delicately given so not to cause any disruption for her. I was at the Care-home last week, as arranged, but unfortunately Becky had withdrawn to her room, presuming safely within her own wee world… by sleeping. A care assistant tried to waken her several times, but Becky just turned around, seemingly not wishing to know. My future visits to take Becky for a hurl, will be at best… pot luck…but I feel I must persist…even though rejection will occur. If the best care possible is in place…that is what matters.

Last Monday, the stunning wedding ceremony, involving a shy couple, the bride being ‘She who must be obeyed’ smiling niece. It was a successful ‘Do’, with most of the families there, apart from Thomas and Marion from Jersey, though their charming children, Elena and Josh stood in for them. Unfortunately, Thomas had to go through some tricky urgent surgery, which was successful although the recovery needed was longer than anticipated.

We were unable to book a room in ‘Waterside’ where the actual wedding was, but boy were we lucky with our reservation in ‘Seamill House Hotel’, not long opened, fresh and classy. The view from the veranda while we sat, sipping coffee, was ever fascinatingly changing…pure sublime….and a memorable stay.

This weekend we are watching their mutt for Yvonne and Tony. It is a rather paunchy Dash-hound who barks seemingly at the moon …or anything else. Its name in correctly named ‘Krumm’, because if it hears a crumpling of any packet of food or sweets or crisps…its at your feet, with beseeching eyes…constantly staring. Dubbing her ‘Rufus’ (red haired) which is close to her colour, so Rufus and I are rehearsing our version of Puss in boots…. called ‘Mutts in clover’…all is well…I will miss the mutt when it goes home.

Although I have been fortunate having made a couple of lifetime friends during this period, I will shortly discontinue all activities within the housing movement, and my homestead…. Calvay. I certainly can’t fail to miss all the employees in Calvay, along with tremendously braw committee members throughout, some keen directors and hardworking steadfast staff of other association …the staff, and boards of both S.H.A.R. E… and my bedrock, G.W.S. Forum.

All in all, I’ve met some awe-inspiring people, making the last 25 years a fascinating meandering journey...thank you one and all…it’s mainly been a ball.

One such friend I still meet, around once a month, down in Ayr…this being Jim Hendry, a firm Labour and union man, who… in his style, represented Ayr, Ayrshire and Scotland. We always stop at Witherspoons, for a couple of refreshments to help the vocal cords. I really look forward to the Ayrshire day out… but mainly the banter.

The drawbacks for all the community groups being… the dogmatic brick wall, set up instantaneously… at will… by councillors, M. P’s; M.S.P. s…both governments with their uneven playing fields… controlled by hidden decision makers, who mysteriously exist under any radar, complete as small selected committees with unknown agendas….so operates the halls of power

Another binding friend is moving; lock, stock and barrel, from a pleasant village in France, back to jolly old United Kingdom…which is anything than politically unified…

We never know what the future brings…but now…it brings back a flood of recollections…magic
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