…my first paid honest day’s work… I was nine years old…

…when yeez become a quill-scraper, lots of people are genuinely interested to know from where yeez conjure up yer characters… for this ol’ Jurassic, a simple delve back into my formative youth in Docklands Govan in Glasgow provides a mix of many colourful personalities… our family lived on the ground floor of a grey-stone tenement… the back end of the ‘close’ or corridor into the building opened out into the ‘backcourts’, a stretch covering the entire inner length of the street… in the middle of the area in these backcourts a brick wall separated our backcourts from those of the street parallel to ours… the wall ran all the way up the centre, a couple of hundred yards of cemented brick, interspersed with ‘middens’ all the way up… a ‘midden’ is the Scottish term for the wee structures housing the communal rubbish bins for each section of the tenements… so why am I talking rubbish?…patience… patience…I’m coming to it… y’see, another fixture in the slums back then were the unlicensed bookmakers… the illegal ‘bookies’… they would skulk around the back courts, waiting for the residents to come and place their horse racing bets with them… scraps of paper with scribbled bets, usually for monumental amounts… ‘sixpence each way on Black Bess in the 2.45 race at Ayr’‘a shilling roll-up on four events at Chepstowe’ and so on… the bookie who haunted our back close, rejoiced in the name of ‘Baldie’… short for ‘Archibald’…  nuthin to do with his lack of hirsute quality…. even in midsummer, Baldie always wore a heavy overcoat…


…the deep pockets on either side of the coat respectively housed the betting slips and the monies wagered… however, all was not eternally rosy in Baldie’s chosen profession… every now and then, in efforts to arrest the illegal bookies, the local police would raid the back courts, usually as early evening darkness began to fall… Baldie had a series of ‘spotters’ who would raise the alarm the minute one of these raids started… that was the signal for Baldie to emulate some of the sprint horses his punters were stacking their money on… he would bolt for it across the back court, up over the wall and away to non-nickdom… all that was fine, until one week, part of the internal backcourt wall was being destroyed for reasons now lost in the dimness of time… and lots of loose bricks were scattered all over the back courts… a veritable obstacle course in the darkness to Marathon Man Baldie when the Police Pursuit Sports began…


…step forward the enterprising Master Gallacher and a couple of pals… Baldie paid us a huge fortune of a half crown each (12.5 pence in new money) to collect all the loose bricks and dump them in the middens up and down the back close… they had to be spread around all the rubbish bins, so that the refuse collectors wouldn’t get too upset with the weight of all that masonry discarded into just one or two of their collection areas… so there yeez have it… …my first paid honest day’s work… and I was nine years old… an early lesson proving the old adage, ’where there’s muck, there’s brass’…..see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

14 responses to “…my first paid honest day’s work… I was nine years old…

  1. I still have the first dollar I earned in honest work. I was 11 and delivered papers. My mom framed it. (of the Sharp and MacKay clan)That was in 1952.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. laurie27wsmith

    So you weren’t running the numbers as the yanks say Seumas. Hmm, you almost fell into a life of crime. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Funny, but the older I get… the more characters I can call on in the imagination.

    Gawd, but you do come across ’em. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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