Thursday, 29 September 2016

IS THE WORLD GETTING SMALLER, OR AM I GETTING BIGGER?



Compare the scene above with the one below.  The above photo was taken circa 1988, the second one was taken today - from approximately the same pov as the first pic.  Look at how congested and narrow the street now seems compared to how it once was.  My town was built to accommodate Glasgow's 'over-spill' and had large areas of green within and around the town to make it open and spacious, unlike the confined housing schemes of the City which had become overcrowded.

The green areas within were part of the plan, but almost 30 years ago were re-designated as 'under-developed land', which has resulted in them being crammed with just about any buildings that'll fit.  The town no longer has that open and spacious feel, and I deplore the change.  Where is it all going to end?  It doesn't look as if it's going to be any time soon.

Planners don't seem to take account of the fact that, if you build housing on playing fields, there are fewer play areas for the larger number of kids that will inhabit the area.  More homes for families to live in, less space for children to play.  Why can't those who make these sort of decisions see that overcrowding a neighbourhood that was originally designed and built with 'breathing space' is a recipe for disaster in the future?

Is the same thing happening where you live?  Have a vent in our comments section and feel better for it.



IF ONLY EVERYTHING OLD WAS NEW AGAIN...



Just around the corner from my house is a block of flats that's recently had some renovation work carried out (new roof slates and rough-casting).  One of the paths that leads to the back of the flats suffered some broken paving slabs in the process and half of the path was replaced with nice new slabs.

I was struck by how fresh, clean and smooth they were in comparison to the old ones, and it reminded me of how new my town used to look back in the 1960s and '70s.  There are two colours which I used to associate with my town - grey and green.  Grey (a nice light, bright grey) for the buildings, lampposts and paths, and green for all the grassy areas and fields that once existed (but now seem to have been built on).

Looking at the surviving half of the original path, it was old and worn and discoloured, much as large portions of the town now seem to be.  (And when I catch sight of my reflection, as I also now seem to be.)   If only the place could re-capture that 'fresh and new' look it once had, as too much of it appears a little shabby and dilapidated compared to years ago.

Is it any wonder that yesterday can often seem far more appealing than today or tomorrow?

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

CHILDHOOD CAPERS - CHAPTER TWO: 'A STICKY SITUATION'...



I've lived in many houses over the years, but there's one in which I stayed for around only 15 months back in 1964 and '65.  Curiously, it doesn't seem, in retrospect, that I lived there for any less duration than houses I inhabited for longer periods, despite the fact that I had only one Christmas and two birthdays in the place.  And even then, the second birthday (my 7th) fell on the day we flitted to another house, so I tend to associate that cheerful event more with my new abode than the old one.

That information doesn't have much to do with the tale I'm now about to relate, apart from the fact that it transpired in my short-term domicile mentioned above.  (Just setting the scene in my mind.)  As I type, it occurs to me that I may have already recounted this story, but I'll persevere anyway as, even if I have, it's bound to be new to some of you.

If I remember correctly, #41 was the 'doubler' I bought on the night...
but I had #42 at the same time.  I maybe even bought them together

My parents were out one night (not a common event), and an aunt had been drafted in to look after me and my brother.  In an act of generosity, she gave us two bob each, and we ran around the corner to CHAMBERS newsagent and spent it.  If I recall correctly, I bought another copy of an issue of TV21 which I'd already had and disposed of (I was fascinated by its pristine newness and indulged myself), and me and my bruv each bought a tube of BRITFIX 77, a polystyrene 'cement' for plastic model kits, as it always paid to be prepared. 

(Anyone remember Britfix 77?  It was 'THE' glue of the '60s it seemed, and I'm not exactly sure when it disappeared. I think I've still got a later tube tucked away somewhere, but the 77 had been dropped by this time, and the design on the tube was different.  It was made by HUMBROL.)



Anyway, we returned to the house to survey our spoils.  I snapped the tip off the end of my glue's nozzle and put in a pin, the customary method used for resealing the tube to prevent the glue drying up or leaking.  As this was also what my sibling usually did ('twas he who showed me), I did the same for his tube, thinking I was being helpful.  He took exception to my act of consideration and flew into a temper tantrum, throwing the glue on the carpet and stamping on it.  The result of this was to expel the contents of the tube directly onto my aunt's black velvety ankle boots, newly acquired not too long before.

Understandably, being a mere woman (sexist?  Moi?), she got all emotional and started crying, squealing about the ruination of her fancy footwear.  "On, my new boots, my new boots!" she wailed over and over.  "It was Gordon's fault!" my brother blurted, somewhat disingenuously.  She eventually calmed down, but my parents had to reimburse her for the cost of the boots (a fiver).  However, perhaps because she'd been so emotional at the time of the incident, she only seemed to remember my brother's attribution of the 'accident' to me (though I was quick to offer the correct account of events), and it was his version which was relayed to my parents.

I recall this page from #41 because I cut out the figure
of Steve.  Handy thing having a spare issue, eh?

Some time later, while visiting my gran (my aunt's mother obviously), she referred to 'my' crime of ruining the boots, so obviously it was believed by other members of the family that I'd been the perpetrator of that particular infraction, not my brother.  Whether they thought I'd been the one who stamped on the glue, or were simply holding me accountable because they considered my act of removing the tip (but resealing the tube, remember) as the provocation for my brother's outburst, I couldn't say with any certainty.  Not that it matters much as, either way, I was blamed for something I hadn't actually done.

Consequently, I always detected a certain amount of antipathy towards me from that set of relatives, who never seemed to quite take to me.  They appeared to think the world of my bruv though, but then again, he always was an ingratiating little 'sook' when it came to currying their favour, whereas I didn't actually give a fig whether they liked me or not.



Still feel the same way actually - as do they.  25-odd years later, two other aunts (not the one with the boots) 'phoned my mother, but didn't immediately hang up at their end when the conversation finished.  The answerphone was on in case anybody from IPC called me about work, as my parents found it hard to make out English accents on the other end of the 'phone, and often forgot to pass on messages anyway.  The answering machine continued to record, and what followed was a vicious, vitriolic, slanderous diatribe about me between the two aunts, which I still have on tape to this day.

Remind me to tell you the details on a future occasion.  It really is a shocker.


Friday, 16 September 2016

THE 'GOOFY' LETTERS...


Mr. TOM TIERNEY and granddaughter STACEY

In November 1965, my family moved into a new neighbourhood - new to us, as well as being only two years 'new' itself.  I can no longer state with any certainty whether it was on the first or subsequent evening that my brother and myself met the other local kids, but I do remember one of them introducing the group to us.  "Hi, I'm Tony and this is my brother Kenny," said one of them.  Tony was TONY TIERNEY, and it should come as no surprise to you to learn that his wee brother shared the same surname.  (This was the '60s remember, when siblings tended to have the same parents.)

There were others there too, to whom Tony introduced us in turn, but I no longer recollect the precise roll call.  Probably ROBERT FORTUNE and GRAHAM BROWN, along with GUS MARTIN and KENNY McLEOD maybe, but I do seem to recall there being around four or five in total.  I ran into Gus in Glasgow a few weeks back, and Kenny called in today to deliver the pics you see in this post.  Which brings me to the point.

Daughter GERALDINE and her dad

Kenny's father, TOM (who I always called Mr. Tierney) was a regular letter writer to the local newspaper (and others).  He wrote under the nom de plume of 'GOOFY' and his missives offered an often whimsical view of life in general, and also opinions on issues relating specifically to things happening within the town.  His alter-ego enjoyed a certain amount of celebrity status among a loyal group of readers, whose daily lives were cheered by exposure to his latest thoughts, theories and fancies.  If he were alive today, he'd doubtless have a blog of his own.

Tom's wife ALICE.  (Or Mrs. Tierney to me.)  Blackpool 1977

I mentioned him in a previous post a while back, and Kenny was much touched by the fact, and, I believe, derived a certain pleasure from seeing his father's literary contributions receiving public recognition, even on such a low-key outlet as this blog.  I asked him to provide a photograph or two of his dad so I could add one to the other post (which I have), but I thought I'd do another one specifically on Mr. Tierney, as he was such a fixture of the neighbourhood for so many years.

I have extremely fond memories of living in that neighbourhood -  for nearly seven of the most formative years of my life.  Most of the friends I know today, I first met back then, and it's been a source of some surprise to me over the years to learn just how many of them thought I still lived there many years after having moved away, so strongly did they associate me with the place.  Of course, the fact that I was often back in the area probably helped cement that idea in their minds.

A slightly blurred screen-grab of Mr. Tierney's 'scooter' in his
back garden, shot from my bedroom window in a video I made
of my old house in 1991 - 19 years after I'd moved

There are quite a few folk who remind me of the area, but none moreso, I guess, than Mr. Tierney.  No doubt he's putting about on his little scooter in a finer place than this one, mentally composing his next letter to The Heavenly Times.  And I'll bet they're enjoyed up there every bit as much as they were down here.  In fact, he's probably been made editor by now.  So here's to 'Goofy' - he may be gone, but he'll definitely never be forgotten.

Mr. Tierney, with KENNY & TONY

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN YESTERYEAR...



Once upon a time, in a faraway country called The Past, there was a shop named MODATOYS.  I don't think that was its sole name during its entire lifespan, as a nagging voice tells me it was also christened TOYTOWN at one stage and maybe even something else at another.  However, as I remember it as Modatoys, that's how I'll refer to it now.  (It also sold books, games, and other things.)

The shop opened in the early '70s (if not earlier) and was around until the late '80s (if not later), and I still have several items I bought from the place over the years.  A pair of mini-binoculars (with compass and mirror), The WIND In The WILLOWS (a hardback and a paperback), TOAD Of TOAD HALLMOON-FLEETTHREE LITTLE GREY MEN (and its sequel, Three Little Grey Men GO DOWN The BRIGHT STREAM).

I also have a TWIKI figure from BUCK ROGERS, a couple of red paintbrushes, two chess sets & boards (different sizes), and perhaps one or two other things.  Oh, and the paperback book you can see at the top of this post - ALICE'S ADVENTURES In WONDERLAND.  I bought it on a magnificently hot summer's afternoon in 1973 or '74 (so I'd still have been a schoolboy), and one glance takes me back to that time quicker than Dr. WHO's TARDIS.

When I leaf through its pages, the shop still exists, my demolished schools yet stand in their prime, and the 'new town' in which I live is exactly as it was back then - smaller, brighter, cleaner, newer.  Everything is as it was, even if only for a few fleeting moments, but oh, what welcome moments they are.  I wish I could show you the interior colour photographs in the book, but I can't open it wide enough to scan without damaging, and that would never do.

Readers, do you have a book or item that serves the purpose of a time machine and takes you right back to an earlier era from which you're loath to depart?  Why not tell your fellow Mellows about it in the comments section?  Go on - it's good to share.  So here's to The Past - sometimes it's the only thing to look forward to!


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