Perhaps I had ambitions to be an MP - or an undertaker!

Friday, April 10, 2009


This week’s quote:-

I'd like to grow very old as slowly as possible.(Charles Lamb)

This week’s haiku:-

steam clearing slowly
from the bathroom mirror -
an old face takes shape


IN LAST WEEK’S BLOG I mentioned that in my young days the best room or parlour in a tenement house was used only on special occasions.

During the past week I’ve been reading a book “Lost Glasgow” by Carol Foreman. From it I learned some interesting things about how people lived in the early part of the 18th century. It seems that even wealthy folk lived in tenements and they too kept the best room for very important occasions.

Every room in the tenement house contained a bed. Meals were taken in bedrooms and that’s where the lady of the house would entertain her visitors.

I suppose I’ve always had the idea that taverns weren’t very respectable places, and so I was surprised to read that the well-to-do people frequented taverns. Gentlemen’s clubs were popular and lawyers, doctors and business men would meet their clients there.


This picture is by Thomas Fairbairn (1820-1884 ) of the Wheat Sheaf Inn in Old Dumbarton Road, Glasgow.


While I was a student, my particular friend Adam and I had helped to run a church youth club, and later he became involved with education authority youth work.

At that time social work was expanding and community centres were opening in most towns. Adam got a full-time job as warden of a local centre, and I became quite fascinated with all the interesting projects he was supervising.

I had been working in a foundry office for a couple of years, when I saw a newspaper advert from a church community centre in Glasgow looking for an organising secretary. I applied for the post and got it.

The centre was a converted church and consisted of two main halls, two smaller halls, an upstairs lounge, a committee room, a kitchen and canteen area, and an office. Part of the area in one of the smaller halls was laid out as a little chapel. The caretaker’s house was upstairs.

A number of organisations used the premises - toddlers’ creche, Boys Brigade, crafts classes, old folks club, youth clubs, girls keep-fit, dramatic club, weekly old time dancing, weekly whist drive, and the canteen was open most nights for tea, soft drinks, biscuits and crisps. There were occasional social functions at which I often provided the music.

I enjoyed working there, but the most important thing about my time at the centre was the fact that it was there that I met Jean. She was Brown Owl and often was involved in helping in other activities. We married on 12th June 1954.

The marriage was conducted by my uncle George, my cousin John was best man, Jean's best friend Mary was matron of honour, my sister Rita played the organ, and Jean’s brother-in-law Angus was church officer.


BIRD’S NEST a poem by John Clare (1793-1864)

‘Tis spring, warm glows the south,
Chaffinch cherries the moss in his mouth
To filbert hedges all day long,
And charms the poet with his beautiful song;
The wind blows bleak o’er the sedgy fen,
But warm the sun shines by the little wood,
Where the old cow at her leisure chews her cud.


Now, here’s some good advice for us all. In case you’ve forgotten any French you had, there's a translation below.

Take the time to love - it’s the secret of eternal youth.
Take the time to laugh - it’s the music of the soul.
Take the time to weep - it’s the feeling of a generous heart.
Take the time to read - it’s the source of knowledge.
Take the time to listen - it’s the strength of intelligence.
Take the time to think - it’s the key to success.
Take the time to play - it’s the freshness of childhood.
Take the time to dream - it’s a breath of happiness.
Take the time to live - because time quickly passes and never returns.
Follow your path -
Go, live and become!

The last line will mean more to people in France for “Va, Vis et Deviens” is the title of a film released in 2005.


DO YOU KNOW what a waggity-wa is? (Not to be confused with wag-at-the-wa which is a household goblin.)

Well, a waggity-wa is an unenclosed pendulum clock that hangs on the wall. When I was small, we had a little wooden clock which had a long chain dangling, with a weight on each end. You didn’t wind it up, because it was the action of the chain that kept the clock going. We called it the waggit-the-wa.

Very often folk would have a clock on the mantlepiece in the living room, usually the kind with a glass door covering the clock face and the pendulum. Those old clocks are quite valuable now and make good prices at auctions.

In my maternal grandparents’ house a big round clockface hung on the wall halfway up the stairs. This was the kind of clock you used to see in railway stations, and in fact this one had come from a station in Glasgow. When it was being replaced by a more modern one, Uncle Hugh who was a railway clerk had been given it.

I’m reminded that another of my uncles was very clever at repairing clocks and watches in his spare time. Uncle Alex continued with his hobby right up to the time when watch mechanisms were becoming much smaller, and I suppose by then his eyesight wouldn’t be quite as good.


Celtic Woman is an Irish group of talented singers who have become popular over the last few years. Very often they feature a violinist. Their repertoire covers folk music and modern songs. Their first album “Celtic Woman” reached number one on Billboard’s World Music chart and stayed at that position for 68 weeks.

The song on the clip “Orinoco Flow” I understand is well-known, though I didn’t know it.


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