Sunday, 7 July 2013


Haddy had flown to Glasgow as soon as my father’s funeral was over, for the birth of her daughter Fatou’s baby.
Fatou hadn’t helped matters in being late to deliver.
She’d been up there a week and still Fatou was waiting, and getting more and more fed up by the day.
Not that it was her fault, these things happen when everything is ready and not before, but to those in the family who are just waiting and not actually going through it, then the wait can seem interminable.
But, barring emergencies or problems, babies come when they are ready and not before, and that’s just the way it is.
Vincent, Fatou’s husband, had taken leave from his firm and was doing his best trying to cope with everything that was going on, and his wife.
Fatou, Vincent Jnr & Vincent Snr

Finally, little Vincent popped out into the world, looked around, and started crying. 
Proud Grandmum Haddy & Baby Vincent

The end of July was cold, it was wet, and he didn’t seem to like it one bit ?
Now I can book a week off to go and get my wife and see a bit of Glasgow at the same time.

Scotland intrigues me.
I’ve only ever been once before when the poetry group I’m part of went to Edinburgh in 1996 to play the Edinburgh Festival.
That had been a lot of hard work but certainly enjoyable.
Trouble was, there was no real time off to do much other than rehearse and so anything we might have wanted to do or see had gone on the back burner.
This time, although I’d only be there for a week, it was going to be more relaxing…
I’d hoped to be able to hook up with some musicians I knew and at least buy them a couple of beers in their own city but they were away playing a festival, and when I arrived on the early morning flight from Luton to be met by Haddy and Vincent, the rain had moved in with a vengeance and was literally bucketing it down.
That’s not good.
When we got back to their flat on the outskirts of the city, I found out that one of Fatou’s friends had decided to come from Wales to be with her at this time, bringing along her little baby girl as well.

Unfortunately she hadn’t told anybody in advance that she was coming, and so the flat was a little cramped to say the least…
Oh well, we’ll cope.
Haddy had thought that her actions were a little ‘questionable’ to say the least, but Fatou hadn’t felt like telling her to go straight back home and she certainly hadn’t got money to move into a hotel so we all crammed in…
Fatou was having a few problems and so she was still in hospital with baby Vincent, but by the sound of things they were going to discharge her that weekend so she’d be coming home as soon as Vincent  Snr received the phone call
And the rain came down and flood warnings were being broadcast everywhere.
Great !
Oh well, at least it’s a first floor flat.

Thank God they’d managed to move out of the tower block that they’d previously been in.

Now I will say this for the record before adding anything …
I don’t know enough about Glasgow to comment about their ‘social housing’ problems, but…
Those tower blocks are a serious cause for concern and the sooner they are flattened and some of the scum that infest them are moved out or better still, exterminated, then the city can maybe revitalise itself ?
Here’s a couple of cases in point…
One of Vincent’s friends, a pastor of one of the local churches, had been attacked by five ‘kids’ whose ages ranged from fourteen to eighteen, in the lobby of one when he tried to move past them to get in the lift and get to his own flat.
The ‘kids’ had been out of their minds on alcohol and drugs and all of them also lived in the building with their families.
The lobby is covered by CCTV and those watching the events take place on the monitor had decided not to call the police until the assault was over, because ‘they wanted to see what the kids would do next ?’
Christ !
They’d already seen the cunts kick the shit out of a man of God so what the fuck were they actually waiting for ?
But then if you live in the building yourself, you have to be careful don’t you ?
Yeah right !
And these people worked for the local council ?
Believe me, I’m not making this shit up.
The pastor was in hospital for a week after having a few bruises and broken ribs but at least he survived the attack…

The second case is a little more amusing…
A guy the pastor and Vincent both knew went to visit the pastor at his flat.
He too was accosted in the lobby by the same bunch of kids, but he made it to the lift and got in after issuing the kids a warning…
Unfortunately one of the kids didn’t go back to his alcohol and bag of glue.
He set off up the stairs to waylay the guy when he got out of the lift, so when the lift door opened it was one against one…
Five minutes later the lift door opens back in the lobby and the limp rag of one seriously beaten kid is lobbed straight at the other four with the warning that if any of the others wanted the same then bring it on…
All four still standing kids turned and ran.
Seems to me like one guy had the right idea ?
But if all this crap is being caught on CCTV and the council is doing nothing then there is definitely a problem at the council.
Isn’t there ?
The two older kids who beat up the pastor were going to be prosecuted but it was the youngest who started the attack and apparently the younger ones cannot be prosecuted ???
Doh !!!
What the fuck is wrong with Scottish law ?
Oh well, if you ever visit a tower block in Glasgow then bear it in mind and take a weapon…
A flame-thrower is probably favourite.
But I digress…

Billy Connolly used to make jokes about the Scottish people looking a sort of ‘blue’ colour because they always ate the wrong food and never got any sunlight.
He might have been making a serious point ?
Looking around at some of the people, it kept bubbling to the surface in my mind…
They DID actually look like that.
I know that down ‘South’ where I live, we tend to take the piss somewhat about the diet of deep fried Mars bars (I tried one in Edinburgh, it was a Mars bar covered in batter and deep fried with the fish and chips…) but bloody hell !!!  Some of these people look like they actually live on them ?
I have never, even in Africa, seen a more unhealthy looking population and that’s a fact.
It’s not everybody, but there do seem to be one hell of a lot of them…

 Poor old Fatou is lying in her hospital bed looking all ‘washed out’ when I first saw her and the baby.
Thankfully, he was asleep.
It turns out that she is down for discharge the following day, and so they will both be coming home.
This means that if it stops raining the way it is, I can go and explore the park opposite where she and Vincent live, with Haddy, after doing a bit of shopping with Vincent.
Right, shopping’s done and everything on the list she’s been given that she’ll need has been bought.
Now we can relax…
Difficult, with a six month old baby in the room, but not impossible.
Thankfully, she’s a happy little soul who just sits next to her Mum and gazes around at everything with her pretty round brown eyes.
Vincent seems to have thought of everything in advance back at the flat.
Not surprising, after all he’s an architect in reality and when he gets off from the office he teaches people to drive.
The extra money this brings in is definitely helping the pair of them.
Fatou used to be the manager of our local Tesco’s café but she won’t be able to do that type of job for a bit.
Certainly not with the price of baby minders being what it is.

Finally she gets the all clear to go and so we all troop down to the hospital in Vincent’s car…
As we’re going down in the lift with another family, the Grandfather looks over at Vincent Jnr, takes stock of his size (he was a nine pounder) and says in a voice we can all hear
‘He’s a big ‘un… I bet I know what his name is, it’s ‘Shuggie…’

It started me off giggling, much to Fatou’s disgust, because he definitely WAS a little ‘Shuggie’.

Jeezus, isn’t this rain ever going to stop ?
I need to get out somewhere and stretch my legs, but the rain is still bucketing down and the balcony has two inches of water in it.
That’s the next job, unbung the drain holes and let some water out from the balcony.
At least it’s covered, and so were any passers by when I’d unblocked the holes.
Now it’s broom time to sweep away any excess…
It took half a day but the mission was finally accomplished.
The following day we’re looking at a cloudy sky but it isn’t raining so Vincent, Fatou and baby Vincent, Haddy and I pile into the car for a quick trip to the city centre.

It’s strange in Glasgow…  
All those things I’ve heard about musically over the years are there and reasonably easy to see.
The ‘Linn’ building where they made some of the best record decks ever.
Sauchiehall Street, famous for being mentioned in every newspaper and by that Connolly bloke whenever there’s a fight…
Glasgow city centre: Charity shops first stop...

To be honest, we didn’t get much further than that when the rain started up again, but I’d picked up a couple of cd’s and dvd’s from a couple of the local charity shops, after all, it always pays to look in different areas because they definitely won’t have the same stuff that you are used to looking at in your own locality.
Ok, back to the car and home again.
We’ll try again at some other time.
There are actually a lot of places to go and explore or see in Glasgow.
I hadn’t made a list or anything like that, but everywhere you went you saw signs for this gallery and that museum and I have to be honest, under different circumstances I could have wandered around quite happily trying to take them all in, but the rain wasn’t helping anybody or anything.
That was interminable…
It seemed to go on for ever.

Glasgow in the usual weather scheme...

Finally, with a couple of days left of the break, we’re back in Glasgow city centre where Vincent takes us to lunch at an ‘All you can eat for a specific price’ Chinese restaurant.
The food is fine and so we all leave a few pounds heavier than when we came in.
Thankfully we managed to get in before the lunchtime rush and it must be a popular establishment because it was absolutely ‘rammed’ at lunchtime.

When we finally leave, with overfull stomachs and bursting buttons the sun has come out.

It isn’t going to last, and one look at the sky is going to tell you that, but it does exist in Scotland…

You just don’t see it very often, that’s all.
When we got back to the flat the sky has turned grey again but the rain has held off, so finally Haddy and I manage to go for a walk around the park opposite the flat.

It was certainly different to any park local to us, in that the wildlife who live there don’t actually seem to give a damn whether humans are out and about or not ?
They just carry on with their own lives in full view of the population.
Rabbits come up from their burrows and hop about with humans approximately thirty feet away.
Foxes come and go across the paths, stalking this, that or the other, but not taking a blind bit of notice of any humanity that crosses their path.
Ok, if you got too close then they’d probably bolt, but they just looked, gauged the distance and carried on with whatever they were doing in the first place.

The water birds, listed and described as to what you might see on the park’s signage next to the lakes are also seemingly used to the local humanity, AND, the whole place seems to be policed by ‘Park Rangers’ who seem to be doing a bloody fine job in keeping the place friendly, reasonably litter free, and accessible to everybody. 

There is one old rusting ruin in the middle of it, boarded up so you can’t get too close, and obviously used by the odd wino or two if the bottles were any sort of evidence, but in the main, that is one amazing park.
Even with the kids playing football it seems a peaceful place ?

It’s walkable all around in a couple of hours, maybe a bit less, but the layout is good and there is always something different to see around the next corner.
All kudos to (I presume) Glasgow City Council for the layout.
I’m impressed.
Needless to say, when we finally get back to the flat it had started raining again.

On our penultimate night there, I decided to splash out on an Indian take-away from the shops underneath us.
No problem…
Fatou had made a specific request, but everything else was as usual in these cases.
Samosas, Naan bread, Bhaji’s, Popadums, all the trimmings, what seemed like a ton of rice and the odd Dhansak, Jalfrezi and Rogan Josh…
We ate like kings and queens.
And apart from Fatou’s specific request which was odd, to say the least, it was very nice.
I suppose you would have to say it was something that you might encounter in Scotland, but certainly nowhere else and as far as I’m concerned, it’s up there with the deep-fried Mars bar as something to be avoided, but Fatou liked it, so what the hell ? 
'Ectoplasm...'  The dreaded Haggis Pakoras...

Any guesses as to what this particular dish is ?
I actually posted a picture of it on Facebook with a request to see if anybody could identify it, and ‘Ectoplasm’ definitely made us laugh…
No ?
Give up ?
They are actually Haggis Pakoras…
And they are definitely an acquired taste !!!

Totally stuffed, we finally shuffled off to bed…
It’s going to be quite a sad day tomorrow when we leave.
We are actually getting the evening flight and so we have all day to say our goodbyes and wouldn’t you know, it had stopped raining for the day…
Unfortunately, it’s the usual thing.
Packing takes up most of your time and there is nothing else to do apart from say goodbye to all the neighbours and the shopkeepers downstairs.
We managed to get diverted to one of Fatou and Vincent’s friends on the way to the airport and so we are well past the check-in time when we finally arrive, but it keeps the final goodbyes to a minimum and we race through everything and finally sit down on the aircraft in totally different places.
If we’d got there earlier then we might have been able to sit together, but shit happens and we’re not, so it can’t be helped.
Another hour and we’ll be back in good old Luton.
(I use that phrase with a little difficulty because there never seems to be that much good ever happening in Luton…)
Well, another hour’s flight and probably another thirty minutes trying to get Haddy through whatever form of immigration hold-up that the powers that be are going to inflict upon her, but it’s where we get off, and it’s only about sixteen miles from home.
Surprisingly there is no immigration hold-up and we are both through without any major hold-ups, which is a first, for those interested in historical fact.
Catch the courtesy bus to the car park where I’d parked the car and we’re on our way home within forty minutes of landing.
The past week has been different, I’ll say that for it…
Hopefully, the weather has rained itself out, as Cropredy is a-coming in the next couple of weeks...
Yeah, I know, I must be having a laugh...

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