‘There’s wan shinin light though, ma young grandson. Twinty years auld he is, a strappin big lad. Ma only grandchild an the only real faimily ah’ve goat left.’
By Peter Bennett
Published by Rymour Books
The Glasgow Effect
By Ian Spring
Published by Rymour Books
We approach the Portland Arms, Tam an I. It’s just past hauf past wan. The facade ay the buildin husnae changed a bit since it was built in nineteen thirty-eight. Fae the pavement up tae the bottom ay the windae sills an surroundin the door, the waw is comprised ay black an grey granite. Above the doorway is the sign ‘Portland Arms’ in stainless steel letterin, backlit by red neon light. The remainder ay the waw at the front ay the buildin is constructed wae red facin brick wae stane copin.
Enterin the main door, we immediately arrive in a small vestibule where there ur two doors—wan tae the left and wan tae the right. These two doors were originally, ah wid surmise, put in place fur ease ay access tae either end ay the circular bar held within.
Part ay Tindal’s vision, ye see? Naw well, ah don’t suppose ye dae. Jonathan Tindal wis the proprietor back when he built this incarnation ay the pub in nineteen thirty-eight. It wis tae replace the auld pub ay the same name that stood next door. Bit ay a visionary ye see, auld Tindal. He decided that a pub should be expansive wae loads ay room for patrons tae be seated rather than crowded roon a bar as wis the case in many ay the surroundin pubs ay the time. Accordingly, he promptly acquired the tenement block next door tae the auld pub, demolished it and built wan mare attuned to his philosophy.
Where wis ah then? Aw aye, the two doors. As ah said, there ur two doors as ye arrive, wan at either side. We take the wan tae the right. This takes us intae the Celtic end. The other door as ye may or may no have gathered, takes ye intae the Rangers end.
Hardly in keepin wae Tindal’s vision fur the modern publican then. He obviously never accounted fur the entrenched sectarian divisions ay this city at the time ay inception.
Ah personally, care not a jot fur such segregation. Ma ain faither wis spat oan in the street as he searched fur work when he came oer fae County Donegal in nineteen twinty-three. Ah’ve witnessed countless acts ay violence borne fae the ignorance ay bloody eejits oan baith sides ay the fence. They kin bloody keep it! It is however, a segregation ay choice, ah should point oot. Ah mean, there’s nae doormen staunin there directin folk tae their delegated section an there’s nae real risk involved in croassin tae the other side, as it were. Rather, it’s an arrangement that’s evolved naturally an organically. It should be applauded in a city wae countless pubs affiliated tae either ay the Auld Firm. Everyone is seemingly happy wae the continued modus vivendi an there’s nae mare trouble in the Portland than any other pub. Still though, we’re creatures ay habit, Tam and I, and wae names like Coyle and O’Henry there wis only wan door we were gaun tae use.
Through the door, the customary aroma ay tobacco smoke an insipid, stale beer greets us like an auld friend. A strangely comfortin sensation that comes wae familiarity. Horizontal layers ay grey smoke hing in the air like ghostly apparitions, hoverin seemingly indefinitely as each layer is renewed cyclically by the relentless puffin ay the patrons throughout the bar. Tam goes tae the bar tae order oor drinks. A hauf pint ay heavy an a hauf ay Glenfiddich wae watter fur me. Tam’s usual is a hauf pint ay Tennents lager an a measure ay varyin whiskies dependin oan baith his mood, an his finances.
Lookin aroon the surroundin tables, ah kin observe aw ay the usual faces. At this time ay the day, it’s largely pensioners an unemployed people in fur a couple ay drinks tae while away the ooirs an drudgery ay their day. The sad thing is, occasionally wan ay the faces disappear. People die, life goes oan. Some ay the mare popular characters may even get a commemorative plaque, mounted, in memoriam, at their favoured seat or stool at the bar.
Ah acknowledge the friendly faces ah see; ah nod ay the heid or a cursory wink. Maist offer some sort ay recognition; a raised gless or smile in response. Some however, just stare blankly, unwillin tae enter intae any type ay social interaction. Ah’ve largely gied up tryin tae talk tae the young yins that come in. Maist feign the slightest ay interest in any subject matter ye try tae ignite conversation wae afore buggerin aff as soon as possible. They’re no aw as polite as that though. Some ay the youngsters prefer tae blatantly ignore the opinions held by masel an other elderly people, preferrin insteid tae shun ye entirely. The erosion ay common courtesy an respect fur yer elders in this country ah put it doon tae. It just didnae happen in ma day but there ye go, times change. Mibbe it’s me though; ah mean who’d want tae listen tae an auld bugger like me rabbitin oan. It’s just hard tae accept ah suppose. Ah mean, it wisnae always like this, ye just get aulder an it seems ye become less relevant tae people.
There’s wan shinin light though, ma young grandson. Twinty years auld he is, a strappin big lad. Ma only grandchild an the only real faimily ah’ve goat left. His faither—ma son, died ye see. He goat in wae the wrang crowd an started messin aboot wae the drugs. Died because ay that bloody shite when the boay wis just eleven year auld. Daniel wulnae go doon that road though, ah’m certain ay it. He’s a bright lad, that yin an nae mistake; sais he might drap in an see me the day, in fact.
Wan ay the aforementioned ignorant wee bastarts is oan ma seat when ah get tae it. Tam an I ayeways sit here when we’re in, ‘Dae ye mind shiftin son, yer oan ma seat.’ ah sais tae him.
‘Aye? Ah don’t see yer name oan it.’ he sais, ‘ …ye might huv soon enough when ye croak it though ya auld cunt.’ he sais, laughin wae his pal an pointin tae the plaque at the next table.
‘You’ll huv an embossed imprint ay ma boot oan the cheek ay yer erse if ye don’t sling yer hook ya cheeky wee bastart!’ ah sais tae him. Nae respect these swines! He stauns up lookin as if he’s goat somethin else tae say fur himsel afore pickin up his pint an noddin tae his mate, afore the two ay them bugger aff, movin alang a few tables. Bloody swines.
Ah’m hoachin fur a bloody drink noo efter that kerry oan. Where’s Tam went tae fur them, the Wellpark Brewery?
He’s staunin at the bar talkin tae some big brute ay a fella, bletherin away. Ah’m ready fur gien him a shout but he starts makin his waiy taewards me kerryin the drinks oan wan ay they wee circular trays ye get in pubs, stoappin tae blether tae mare people sittin at the tables he passes oan the waiy. ‘Will you stoap natterin tae every bugger in the bloody place an get oer here wae they drinks.’ ah sais tae him oer the hum ay the many voices in the room.
Efter whit seems like an inordinate amount ay time he eventually gets here, puttin the tray oan the table an sittin doon.
‘Whit took ye?’ ah sais. ‘Ah’m bloody parched.’
‘Stoap yer moanin Coyle! Ah’m entitled tae say hello tae a few people. That’s whit the pub’s fur—socialisin.’ he sais. Ah take ma drinks an decide against pursuin it any further. He’s right, ah suppose. Cannae really argue wae that.
‘Who wis the big fella ye were talkin tae at the bar?’ ah sais.
‘Aw aye, him. Nice big fella, never caught his name.’ he sais.
That’s the place, amigo, Scooby Doo hid sed. Ye cannae whack it fur an away day, Imber. Goat the castle an aw that an some stoatin boozers.
JIST THE TICKET
Sae ah wis in Sammy Dows waiting oan him wi a pint o heavy an a wee nippy sweetie wan Setterday efternoon.
Then Cuddy Mackay cams in the door. Ye fur anither hauf, he ses.
Naw, ah ses, ah’m waitin fur a train.
Whaur are ye aff tae? he ses.
Naewhir in particular, ah ses. Ah didnae want tae say Imber. Jist me an Scooby Doo thought we’d git oot o toon.
Weel, no big Scobie, he ses. Ah jist caught him in the Corn Exchange. Sed he’s gaun tae
Paisley fur the
GEMME AT LOVE STREET
An, efter another hauf, Cuddy wis aff tae the Buchanan Galleries fur the Christmas shopping fur the weans.
Ah thoat, whit wid ah dae? Love Street fur the Buddies agin the Jags?
Naw! Nae danger a that, nae danger at aw! Ah’m aff tae Imber, ah thoat. It’s goat the castle an aw that and some stoatin boozers.
Sae ah went across the road but the platform gate wis closin and the train wis puffing away fae the platform.
Nae bother, ah thoat, ah’ll get the next yin.
The Vale wis across the road an it wisnae a bad wee shoap. They hid a big list o whiskies oan a blackboard. Ah’ll check out wan o those, ah thoat. Sae ah hid a Glenmorangie an a hauf o heavy an ah watched the scores coming in oan the telly. Then ah hid a Macallan and it wis time fur the results, Sae ah jist decided tae haud oan an hae anither.
BUDDIES 0 JAGS 0
Sae efter that ah goat oan the train. Thir wis a lass wi a trolley. This is grand, ah thoat. Ah’ll hiv a can o McEwan’s Export. Ah liked the train. It made a sort of clicking sound oan the rails as it pulled past the sheds at Springburn. Sae ah jist shut ma eyes an listened tae it gaein oan.
A minit later thir wis a guy shakin me by the shodder. The train wis stopped deid still.
Is this the six thirty tae Imber? ah asked him.
Weel, this wis the six thirty tae Imber, then it wis the seven forty five back tae Glesca. Noo it’s gonna be the ten thirty five tae Imber agin.
But if ye hiv tae get back tae Imber, pal, ye can get the nine fifty at platform seven.
Weel, thir wis nae chance o that. Ma away day wis banjaxed. May as weel hiv stayed at hame wi a boatle o ginger an a
CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA
Mind ye, Imber’s the place, goat a castle an some stoatin boozers. Never been thir but.
Liberties by Peter Bennett and The Glasgow Effect by Ian Spring are published by Rymour Books, priced £10.99 and £9.99.
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