…1950’s Dockland Govan, Glasgow slums’ equivalent of naming yer son, ‘Sue’…




…this ol’ Jurassic is not one of those who subscribe to labelling a childhood growing up in the slums of Glasgow as ‘the bad old days’… they were simply ‘the old days’… post-War Britain held the majority of its population in working-class city environments, all over the country… we were aware of only two ‘classes’… people with money, living in a stratosphere completely foreign and unreachable to the rest of us… and us… families existing on or around the bread line… the old saw refers to a person from our side of the tracks as ‘balanced—a chip on each shoulder’… I disagree with that tag 100%… the majority of fine people I grew up among were a grand mixture of native Scots, immigrant Irish (our lot swam across the Irish Channel about three generations prior to my birth), Poles, and a large community of Pakistanis… little in the way of vehicle traffic bothered our streets…gangs of children played with huge skipping ropes, snared from old washing-line rope, thirty to a side, with rhymes we sang as we dived in and out and under the swinging cord… football games, with inexpensive plastic balls, street against street, varied in team size from twenty-a-side-and-upward… nobody kept scores… but we were all surrogate World Cup superstars in our own heads… part of my own character-building was the gauntlet I ran every Tuesday and Thursday… I had won a scholarship to one of the ‘posher’ learning institutes, which meant going every day by bus to somewhere in the middle of the City… my mother was the ninth of nine children in her family, all of whom had been encouraged (read ’forced’) by her parents to learn some sort of instrument… in the event, most instruments had been taken by the time her turn came around, and she instead became a ballerina/country-dance competitor… however, she insisted that at the posh school I should learn to play, wait for it, the viola… togged out in a school uniform (in Dockland Govan!) I was very much an eleven-year-old ‘marked man’… I traipsed to the bus stop daily, but twice a week carrying the viola case… I won’t list the number of fights it attracted, but I had to learn swiftly how to retaliate first!… yeez can’t run away, coz then yeez would miss yer bus… so stand and deliver it had to be… so, if yeez live in Govan, and yeez want to toughen up yer offspring, give them a viola case and a fancy school uniform… best pre-military training ever… the 1950’s Dockland Govan, Glasgow slums’ equivalent of naming yer son, ‘Sue’…  see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

12 responses to “…1950’s Dockland Govan, Glasgow slums’ equivalent of naming yer son, ‘Sue’…

  1. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    A great story – would fit you up for anything for sure. Portsmouth in the late 50’s was similar – a lot of bomb damage and one massive site 100 metres from our house was the local teenage gang hangout – we younger kids used to pester them so much they moved on and left us their dugout – magic.


  2. Dear Sue, the streets aren’t the same since we lost the grammar schools and viola cases.


  3. Ah! Now I understand! It was that French horn this Paleolithic hauled onto the bus when she was ten, that made her what she is today….


  4. My father in law grew up in the Gorbals and was evacuated to the coast in the war. From what he said, it was similar… hell from what McOther says, it was similar in the 60s too. 😉




  5. laurie27wsmith

    It didn’t do to stick your head above the pack Seumas. I was lucky, we couldn’t afford a musical instrument. The only option was whistling and I couldn’t do that right until I was 11.


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