[1970:] I can still see my mother's wrath as her snowy bedspread was pushed aside, while we three children groped under the bed for our girds and cleeks. The cleeks were the metal batons we used to control the gird's movements. The pastime was one usually reserved for boys [...]. There were usually about six of us setting off at one time. An assortment of metal circles leaned against our legs as we waited for the last one to arrive, and we dirled negligently with the cleeks as we listened to the leader outlining the course for that night. 'Noo, it's roon' the buildin' the night first of all. Then ower the park, doon past the power station, alang the canal bank, an' back by the road.' 'Right.' With wild skirls and leapings we were off, girds spinning smoothly in front, eyes watchful for a break in the rhythm, cleek ready to administer sharp encouragement at the exact moment of metal wobbling, feet trotting in unbroken pattern as we raced along. There were tricky moments with bumpy cobblestones, but we experts knew just when to apply the cleek to keep all steady and sweetly running. The menace of tramlines at a complex crossing would have to be met, and cleek, eyes, feet, and brain worked at lightning speed to manoeuvre the gird so that one would not to fall behind the crowd.
The gird was a magic carpet carrying us into odd and sometimes forbidden corners [...]. We must have run miles on these races, and the exercise and caller air filled us with wild exhilaration. I suppose traffic must have been lighter, for it's a fact that none of us met calamity on our wild outings, and the worst that befell any of us was a broken gird. When this happened the race was abandoned, and we all dawdled back together, to keep the unfortunate owner company, but we didn't really mind this, for a broken gird entailed a visit to the smiddy, and this was a never- palling thrill. (Weir 25f)
The Cooperative store was the hub of our shopping activities. How else could working-class people shop on credit, and earn a little dividend at the same time? [...] Along one side ran the long mahogany counter, with female clerks perched on high stools, whose job it was to write down our orders in our 'store' books. Along the opposite side ran the long wooden counter, attended by the serving grocers, usually male. In the territory in between there was constant movement as customers moved over to be served, where boys barged back and forth with huge baskets balanced on their heads, filled with 'delivery orders', and men staggered in under heavy loads of steaming bread, and where customers finally tottered out with their filled shopping bags.
When you arrived at the shop you dropped your 'book' in the slotted box at the end of the mahogany counter [...]. The grown-ups drove us to a frenzy with their endless chatter with the female clerks as they gave orders. There was an atmosphere in the Co-op unlike any other shop. With books having names and addresses clearly displayed, everyone was known by name, and it seemed to us that getting the messages entered in books and ledgers was the last thought in the minds of the women on both sides of the counter. While we fidgeted, not daring to leave [for a quick game outside] because it was getting near our turn, details would be exchanged of the latest wedding, or funeral, or Mrs So-an-So's operation, or the latest baby, etc, etc. We suffered in silence, for the slightest bit of cheek soon brought a clout on the ear from an outraged adult. [...] The only thing that made the gossiping women move, tut-tutting with annoyance, was when it drew near lunchtime or evening closing time, and the ritual of the sawdust-sweeping began. [...]
Everything that was bought at the Co-op was marked in the book, and no money changed hands until pay-day, when maybe a pound would be paid in towards the week's shopping, and the mothers usually attended to this payment themselves instead of leaving it to the children. On one bitter occasion, when I was entrusted with a pound, I put it into my coat pocket and stood quietly in the shop [but] didn't notice a thieving hand quietly rob me of the precious note. [...]
Two doors down from the grocery section of the Co-op was the drapery department, which also sold shoes. My grannie bought a pair of shoes every summer, before we went on our holidays, and I felt very important when I was sent down to bring several pairs 'on appro' so that she could try them on in the privacy of her own home. I never really knew what 'on appro' meant. [...]
There was a Co-op about every five hundred yards in our district, but you got to know your own Co-op as though it were a club, and how alien other Co-ops seemed if you were sent there by a neighbour. But your own! Ah, that was different. So cosy. So chummy. (Weir 41ff.)
When I was a little girl I only had the penny for the homeward tram journey, when my legs were tired after the long walk into the town for special messages. It would have been impossibly extravagant to ride both ways. [...] The most sought- after seating was in the front section of the upstairs deck. This was a favourite meeting- place for the youngsters, for it felt just like being on the bridge of a ship, and it was cut off by a door from the main top deck. We could sing or tell stories if we felt like it and were sure we were disturbing nobody. [...] We all loved riding in trams and quite often went right to the terminus to get our money's worth, and walked back the odd quarter- mile to our homes.
At one time fares weren't paid for in cash, but in little bone tokens which we bought in bulk at the tramway offices in town. I don't know why this precaution was taken, unless it made the conductor's bag lighter, or foiled a would- be thief, or a dishonest employee. [...] When I was very small the routes were indicated by the colour of the trams. When colours were replaced by numbers we thought we'd never get used to them. [...] You could see colours a long way off, but you had to be fairly close to see a number, and the queues teetered uncertainly trying to decide which number suited them, and delayed the tram's departure. This infuriated the conductress, who would shout, 'Come on, youse. Whit are youse waitin' fur? The baund tae play?' [...] But we didn't resist for a single moment the arrival of the new tramcars. Such gleaming opulence, such luxurious chrome and glittering glass, such a richness of finish. [...] We used to wait for a new car, letting the shabby old faithfuls rattle past by the half- dozen, counting the time well spent to ride in such luxury. [...] The new trams had a more sophisticated trolley arrangement than the old, so that hardly any skill or strength was required to swing it about for the return journey. With the older trams, the conductor had to exert some power and have a nice sense of accuracy to place the pulley against the overhead wire at the first attempt. [...] When the old cars were moving, these trolleys could be temperamental, especially if the driver was new. There would be a lurch, and the trolley would come bouncing off the overhead wire in a shower of sparks, and swing wildly back and forth as the car slithered to a halt. This was a nerve- racking experience for the timid, and there would be shouts, 'The trolley's off - the trolley's off', and all eyes would fasten anxiously on the conductor as he swung it towards the overhead wire again. [...] I never knew any child to be injured by a tram. We were as surefooted as mountain deer, and the drivers were quick [...] to apply the brakes in good time. They'd all played on the tramlines themselves when children, and our games didn't make them turn a hair. If a child was occasionally scooped up in the 'cow- catcher' - a metal shovel arrangement worked by the driver to remove any obstacle in his path - well, that was all right. Wasn't that what the cow- catcher was there for? And it would be a good lesson to the youngster for the future. (Weir 91ff)
I don't suppose any of us suspected we were abbreviating the word 'Italians', as we raced from school to the Tallies in search of one of the many wonders within its small interior. At that time all the ice cream in Glasgow seemed to be made by Italians. And I don't even suppose the lazily good- tempered proprietrix minded being called a Tally. She knew we loved her. [...] Her broken English was a constant fascination to our ears. [...] In winter, our Tally went over to hot peas, and no peas cooked at home ever tasted half as good as those bought in that wee shop. A penny bought a cup of 'pea brae', which was actually the thickened water in which the peas had been boiled, liberally seasoned with pepper and a good dash of vinegar. There was always the excitement of maybe finding a few squashed peas at the bottom of the cup [...]. The lordly ones seated at the tables consumed threepenny plates of peas, which made us sick with envy, but when the day arrived when we were big enough and rich enough to spend threepence in one go, I found to my surprise and disappointment that I preferred the penny 'pea brae'. (Weir 100ff)
Another glimpse of the world of washing-day could be caught at the 'steamy' [...]. These were tubs and apparatus hired by women who had no proper wash- house in their tenement back courts, or who preferred the community atmosphere of the 'steamy' to a solitary session in their own wash-house. [...] The rising clouds of steam, the bare arms rhythmically rising and falling, the stately tread to the drying cupboards, and the measured walk back, bearing their washing gracefully before them, ready for packing into their prams or bogies for the homeward journey. (Weir 113)
[1973:] Der Glasgower Lehrer Adam McNaughtan, heute noch im Amt, schrieb es in Anlehnung an seine Kindheitserinnerungen. (Notes Iain MacKintosh, 'By Request')
[1983:] I love Glasgow. I welcome the material improvement in the city's living standards which has taken place in my lifetime but I wish, as reformers through the ages have wished, that reformers knew how to create or preserve community spirit. (One way not to do it is to replace city districts with arid motorways.) [This song] notes the loss of certain cultural landmarks but also reflects, I hope, my continuing affection for the place. The final question, "if you scrape the veneer aff, are these things still there?" really only admits of one answer. (Notes Adam McNaughtan, 'WordsWordsWords')
[1985:] [Their] pride in the close was common to all (or almost all) [so] the tiled walls of the upmarket wally entries [were] kept washed and shining, the plain plastered ones well-scrubbed and white-washed. The sedate colours of the tiles in 'good' closes were ornament enough, but the hoi-poloi kept upsides with the bien by decorating the floors of their entries at the wall-edges with pipeclay scrolls carefully and precisely applied in designs peculiar to each close [...] and on the matter of the white-clay handiwork, woe betide the slattern who let the others down! As William Stevenson remembers [...] "There was a slitter in every close didnae do her pipe-clayin' right, and splashed the walls when it was her turn to wash the entry and the stair. We'd one like that and there was a right bit of aggravation over her, I can tell you. The rest didnae get on with her at all. And it wasnae just the untidy whitenin', she left Brasso smudges round the wee knobs down the banister an' all. [...]" A quick shifty up your average Glasgow close now, suggests mutual tolerance, to the point of coma, of dull brasses, unbrushed floors, wind-swept litter and grimy landing windows. (Blair, Tea at Miss Cranston's 66ff)
"Nobody round us had bikes and weans didnae have prams for to get bogie wheels, (it was just shawls they got taken out in). But we did have girds and cleeks and we thought they took us just as fast. You would girn at a half-mile walk to go a message for your Ma, but three miles planned-out wi' your gird was nothing ... maybe five times round the public library or two or three blocks of Alexandra Parade ... that was nothin' wi' your gir' and cleek. The flat iron yins ran quite sweet, but the lassies had mostly wooden ones that bounced and wobbled ... nae use!" (Blair, Tea at Miss Cranston's 108)
The days of solitary rub-a-dubbing [in the back-court washie] were nearly over since by then Glasgow had built its chain of Public Baths and wash-houses, and brought revolution to wash-day. Revolution and a new social divide. The Steamie had arrived. Ladies did not go to the steamie, but those who did found that it had its own culture and chaff, from which the toffs were never missed. The steamie was divided into stalls, each with its small iron boiler and sink, let out at a shilling an hour. "[...] I mind there was an iron dryin' rack called a horse. It was a long thing and you pulled it out, put your clo'es on it and then pushed the whole lot back into a kind of quick-drying chamber. And there was another thing forbye that, a sort- of hand-cawed drier. There was a man there did that. You draped your washin' on a frame, he birled it round wi' the handle and all the wet came spinnin' out the clo'es." It was during that break when you were getting your tuppence-worth of the drying that there was time with a bit of clash with neighbours and friends. There at the steamie, women whose homes were too small to entertain visitors enjoyed an alternative social life ... (Blair, Tea at Miss Cranston's 143f)
[1988:] A [...] distinctive immigrant group are the Glasgow Italians. They came from the poorer parts of Italy from the 1880s onwards, bringing with them a new style of catering. Many started with ice cream or hot chestnut barrows on the streets [...] and graduated to cafes and fish restaurants. While fish and chip shops were unknown in Italy, in Glasgow they were run almost exclusively by Italians [...]. The brightly painted ice cream parlours and the willingness of the Italians to work on Sundays brought out the wrath of Glasgow's sabbatarians in the early years of the present century. The literature of the Sunday Traders Defence Association [...] is printed both in English and Italian. (King, Palace 110)
[1990:] This song was recently quoted to me as about Port Glasgow. I've seen it read out by Molly Weir on TV. It was read by Prince Charles when he opened Glasgow Garden Festival in 1988. Adam's song has inspired at least two songs in answer, pointing out the harsher side of tenement living - Caves In the Canyons by Ian Davison, and Farewell To Glasgow (The Glasgow I Used To Know) by Jim McLean. (McVicar, One Singer One Song 42)
Nostalgia will always get you in trouble with people who remember the bad news as well as the good news. But nostalgia has its own truth, surely? Nostalgia for the recalled feelings of shared identity and mutual help and trust in hardship - doors never locked - except for the door of the most powerful and pungent symbol of all, the cludgie on the stair. (McVicar, One Sionger One Song 81)
Adam [McNaughtan] acknowledges that Jim's song also has a piece of the truth about tenement living, and has been known to sing it 'back-to-back' with his own. (McVicar, One Singer One Song 90)
[1991:] Formations were coming into vogue [in the early '60s]: Alf Ramsey's 4-3-3, the Brazilians' 4-2-4, the Italians' sweeper system. These were the things football was about, they had to be learned, through and through, practised during the week instead of playing five-a-sides. John Giles recalls a conversation typical of [Manchester] United at the time: '[...] I played a one-two with someone and got clear on goal. When we were coming home on the coach all the talk was about one-twos. "That's what the game's about", they were saying ... "one-twos, give it and go" ... it was rubbish. I'd just played the ball I saw, it was natural, you couldn't practise it or contrive situations where you'd learn creativity. You either had it or you didn't. [...]' (Eamonn Dunphy, A Strange Kind of Glory 283)
[1996:] [Glasgow omnibus entrepreneur Andrew] Menzies realised that laying tram lines over cobblestones would make for quicker, smoother journeys and when Glasgow Corporation laid the rails in 1869 for the company he formed, "The Glasgow Tramway and Omnibus Co", it was one of the most important milestones in the city's history. Bedecked appropriately in the Menzies tartan, the first tram ran from St. George's Cross to Eglinton Toll on 19th August, 1872. The fare - 2d for the whole journey or 1d from either end to Union Street.
Andrew Menzies did not live to see the results of the revolutionary development as he died in 1873.However to him, Glaswegians can say thanks for giving them their much loved and nostalgically remembered "Trams". In 1894, [the Council] decided to operate the service itself. When formed, Glasgow Corporation Tramways was the first major municipal tramway system in the world. The first regular tram from Dalmarnock Depot, destination Finnieston, ran on1st July, 1894 at 4.53 am. [...] From the beginning Glaswegians immediately developed a strong attachment to their new tramcars, over 6 million passengers carried in the first four weeks. [...] By 1902, the changeover [to electricity] was complete - electric haulage had totally taken over - horse trams vanished from the streets forever. Conductresses - "Clippies" were introduced during the First World War. Glasgow was the first city to do so and tartan was seen again, this time in their long uniform skirts.
4th September 1962 saw the sad demise of Glasgow's tramway system - the "CAURS" had gone. (Carol Foreman, Did You Know?, Glasgow City Libraries and Archives, Glasgow, p61 f.)
Tune same as Net Hauling Song