Tag Archives: Glasgow

Memories of a Hillhead infant⤴

from @ blethers



It was this picture that started it. I've been rummaging among my old teaching materials and came upon a small buff book, with cartridge-paper pages that are half blank, half ruled in light and heavier red. This pre-dates all the other stuff I found, as it comes from my childhood. From 1952, I would say, when I was in Infants 2 in Hillhead Primary School in Glasgow. A chance remark on the Facebook conversation that followed its publication there brought memories flooding back - far too many for that medium. And it struck me that this is social history as well as my history, and I find it fascinating. That's what brings me back to Blethers after so many months. I want to write it down before I forget, or before no-one who was there is around to remember with me.

Let's begin with Christine Findlay, pigtailed in Primary 2. By this time she will be almost 7, because her birthday is in September. This meant that she started school in January, already 5 years and 3 months old and able to read. She is no longer playing with Plasticene and lacing cards (the latter, for some reason, a great thrill; something never seen at home).
Presumably for reasons connected with accommodation - and perhaps staffing - her class was called 1e and the school day began at 1pm and ended at 4pm. She travelled by tram from her top-flat home in Hyndland along Great Western Road to the foot of Cecil Street, where she crossed the main road with the help of a traffic warden. (He was once knocked down while she waited beside the road - perhaps this story will reappear). The lunchtime journey cost a ha'penny - the "Ha'penny Special" for school children; the return a whole penny. A yellow ticket at lunchtime, a blue to go home. Six months later her class became 1a and attended school in the morning. I cannot recall - see: it's going already - if the beloved Miss Buchanan survived the transition to morning class or if it was then that Mrs Reilly appeared, a red-haired, vivacious woman confusingly addressed by older pupils as Miss Forrester.

It is her class that provides this book, and some of my clearest memories. I can actually remember writing some of the legends in it, drawing the pictures to go with the writing exercise. In the course of it, we moved on to joined-up writing, copperplate. But before I go there, a vivid, stressful moment...
We were writing the letter l, lower-case, on the same kind of ruled paper as is above. And I couldn't work out how long the letter l (lower case) should go on. How many lines? Two thick and two thin? It looked far too long and wavering. I was distraught. We were forbidden erasers. Even when I saw a friend - was she a friend? - doing what looked a more correct version, there was no way I could hide my shame. I was a fool, and I blushed. That perky child in the picture - wearing, I notice, the regulation school winter jersey with the collar (striped in school colours) through which one threaded the school tie under the gym-slip - was feeling anything but perky.

But I progressed. My writing became fairly spectacularly neat copperplate - an example occurring in the day we learned about Diogenes. There is a wonderful picture of someone else's vision of how he might live here, but this is what I drew.

On other days we drew such things as the Glasgow coat of arms (so hard, these fish!) and a cuckoo which still looks quite convincing. All with this amazing writing underneath. Of other learning I remember less; I was bored much of the time during reading lessons because I was already a fluent reader and became cross at people who read aloud each individual word. Clearly, I was not destined to be a patient person.

I think there were forty children in my class, boys and girls equally distributed. The "a" designation referred to our birth dates, and all of us had our birthdays between September and December. We were the oldest class in the year group, we had had two terms of education more than the rest of the year. We felt superior, and no doubt we acted that way. We had embarked on our Hillhead journey. And the next time it's raining and I have little more to do, I'll regale the waiting world with a few memories of the next stage of that journey ...

Of urban open spaces and a post-war childhood⤴

from @ blethers

I was reading the other day about a dispute over an area of land in the West of Glasgow which is currently used as a (relatively) wild place for children to play, for people to grow things, to be free, and which is threatened by proposed housing development. The writer went on to enlarge on the features that make it so important to retain its use for recreation, particularly the benefits to children's health and wellbeing of such unstructured play in a traffic-free area in a city.

It had me thinking of my own childhood freedoms, also in the West End of Glasgow - freedoms positively enhanced by the relatively recent World War 2. I'm sure I've mentioned much of this before - the place where the land-mine demolished a bit of Polwarth Gardens' tenements, and the huge blocks of red sandstone that still littered the site sticks in my mind, although as a Novar Drive kid I didn't stray there often; we were very territorial in these days. My usual companions lived in the next close and we barely tolerated strangers ...

My usual playground was an open space in Novar Drive where the end of Lauderdale Gardens didn't reach as far as the Novar and was linked to it by a muddy track over empty, hilly ground. On the lower side, which has now been built on, there was a rubbish dump, an infill site, I suppose, where building debris (a result of bombing?) shared the space with more mundane litter like soot left by chimney sweeps (great face-paint) and at the top of which was the underground air-raid shelter in which we sometimes lit illicit fires. To the far side of the dump were two brick-built shelters with thick concrete roofs; we rarely went inside (too smelly) but played Kingball, precariously, on the roof of one.

When it snowed, I borrowed a sledge from a neighbour whose daughter was a good 6 years older than me - she would be at school and I'd be hurtling down the sloping field, often alone, for hours. I have a feeling that the winter I'm recalling was my first at school, when Hillhead Primary had an intake in January; some primary teacher must have doubled up and taken my class in the afternoon after her morning class had gone home. My mother, already having to attend to my 2 year old sister, would despair at converting my wet, grubby morning self into a schoolgirl in time for the 1pm start. (Crazy idea, now I think of it again.)

When the days grew longer,  we spent hours climbing the stunted hawthorn trees on the hillier side of this area; swinging from branches and making dens under - or on top - of them. And then there were the marathons, when we ran round and round a small path that cut through the long grass until we were gasping and scarlet in the face ... and the hiding places in the grass where we used sticks for rifles ... to say nothing of playing chase the arrows all over Hyndland, all the way to Clarence Drive ...

I was always grubby, always scratched, always exhausted by the time our parents summoned us all from the windows of our flats. When we left Hyndland for a "low door" in Broomhill I was devastated. At the age of 10, my life outwith school had been changed for ever. Shades of the prison house ...

I looked up my old haunts on Google Earth. They're barely recognisable, though "my" tenements haven't changed. This first picture is of the play area I've described in such tedious detail. The whole tenement block on the right is new - that's where the rubbish and the overground air raid shelters were. The trees are new - though clearly they've been growing for a while. The play-park just visible on the left is new, and I would have scorned it as tame and at the same time treacherous (I always got sick on swings).

 The second picture looks from the same place as the first, down Novar Drive. New tenements on the left - but you can make out where the old ones begin, with a lane in between which was always there. The top flat we lived in has the bay window just before that tall chimney head on the right of the road. It all looks very crowded, with the cars on either side. We played in the street and in our wilderness, and no-one worried. (Actually, children don't know the secret worries of the mother marooned with a baby in a top flat who suddenly can't see her firstborn and wonders where it might be ...).

What I'd actually like to know is how my own offspring would have fared in this environment, instead of the seaside town we brought them up in - and even how their children would cope with a top flat. What I do know for myself is that I couldn't return.

It was good, though, back then ...

Of urban open spaces and a post-war childhood⤴

from @ blethers

I was reading the other day about a dispute over an area of land in the West of Glasgow which is currently used as a (relatively) wild place for children to play, for people to grow things, to be free, and which is threatened by proposed housing development. The writer went on to enlarge on the features that make it so important to retain its use for recreation, particularly the benefits to children's health and wellbeing of such unstructured play in a traffic-free area in a city.

It had me thinking of my own childhood freedoms, also in the West End of Glasgow - freedoms positively enhanced by the relatively recent World War 2. I'm sure I've mentioned much of this before - the place where the land-mine demolished a bit of Polwarth Gardens' tenements, and the huge blocks of red sandstone that still littered the site sticks in my mind, although as a Novar Drive kid I didn't stray there often; we were very territorial in these days. My usual companions lived in the next close and we barely tolerated strangers ...

My usual playground was an open space in Novar Drive where the end of Lauderdale Gardens didn't reach as far as the Novar and was linked to it by a muddy track over empty, hilly ground. On the lower side, which has now been built on, there was a rubbish dump, an infill site, I suppose, where building debris (a result of bombing?) shared the space with more mundane litter like soot left by chimney sweeps (great face-paint) and at the top of which was the underground air-raid shelter in which we sometimes lit illicit fires. To the far side of the dump were two brick-built shelters with thick concrete roofs; we rarely went inside (too smelly) but played Kingball, precariously, on the roof of one.

When it snowed, I borrowed a sledge from a neighbour whose daughter was a good 6 years older than me - she would be at school and I'd be hurtling down the sloping field, often alone, for hours. I have a feeling that the winter I'm recalling was my first at school, when Hillhead Primary had an intake in January; some primary teacher must have doubled up and taken my class in the afternoon after her morning class had gone home. My mother, already having to attend to my 2 year old sister, would despair at converting my wet, grubby morning self into a schoolgirl in time for the 1pm start. (Crazy idea, now I think of it again.)

When the days grew longer,  we spent hours climbing the stunted hawthorn trees on the hillier side of this area; swinging from branches and making dens under - or on top - of them. And then there were the marathons, when we ran round and round a small path that cut through the long grass until we were gasping and scarlet in the face ... and the hiding places in the grass where we used sticks for rifles ... to say nothing of playing chase the arrows all over Hyndland, all the way to Clarence Drive ...

I was always grubby, always scratched, always exhausted by the time our parents summoned us all from the windows of our flats. When we left Hyndland for a "low door" in Broomhill I was devastated. At the age of 10, my life outwith school had been changed for ever. Shades of the prison house ...

I looked up my old haunts on Google Earth. They're barely recognisable, though "my" tenements haven't changed. This first picture is of the play area I've described in such tedious detail. The whole tenement block on the right is new - that's where the rubbish and the overground air raid shelters were. The trees are new - though clearly they've been growing for a while. The play-park just visible on the left is new, and I would have scorned it as tame and at the same time treacherous (I always got sick on swings).

 The second picture looks from the same place as the first, down Novar Drive. New tenements on the left - but you can make out where the old ones begin, with a lane in between which was always there. The top flat we lived in has the bay window just before that tall chimney head on the right of the road. It all looks very crowded, with the cars on either side. We played in the street and in our wilderness, and no-one worried. (Actually, children don't know the secret worries of the mother marooned with a baby in a top flat who suddenly can't see her firstborn and wonders where it might be ...).

What I'd actually like to know is how my own offspring would have fared in this environment, instead of the seaside town we brought them up in - and even how their children would cope with a top flat. What I do know for myself is that I couldn't return.

It was good, though, back then ...

Of urban open spaces and a post-war childhood⤴

from @ blethers

I was reading the other day about a dispute over an area of land in the West of Glasgow which is currently used as a (relatively) wild place for children to play, for people to grow things, to be free, and which is threatened by proposed housing development. The writer went on to enlarge on the features that make it so important to retain its use for recreation, particularly the benefits to children's health and wellbeing of such unstructured play in a traffic-free area in a city.

It had me thinking of my own childhood freedoms, also in the West End of Glasgow - freedoms positively enhanced by the relatively recent World War 2. I'm sure I've mentioned much of this before - the place where the land-mine demolished a bit of Polwarth Gardens' tenements, and the huge blocks of red sandstone that still littered the site sticks in my mind, although as a Novar Drive kid I didn't stray there often; we were very territorial in these days. My usual companions lived in the next close and we barely tolerated strangers ...

My usual playground was an open space in Novar Drive where the end of Lauderdale Gardens didn't reach as far as the Novar and was linked to it by a muddy track over empty, hilly ground. On the lower side, which has now been built on, there was a rubbish dump, an infill site, I suppose, where building debris (a result of bombing?) shared the space with more mundane litter like soot left by chimney sweeps (great face-paint) and at the top of which was the underground air-raid shelter in which we sometimes lit illicit fires. To the far side of the dump were two brick-built shelters with thick concrete roofs; we rarely went inside (too smelly) but played Kingball, precariously, on the roof of one.

When it snowed, I borrowed a sledge from a neighbour whose daughter was a good 6 years older than me - she would be at school and I'd be hurtling down the sloping field, often alone, for hours. I have a feeling that the winter I'm recalling was my first at school, when Hillhead Primary had an intake in January; some primary teacher must have doubled up and taken my class in the afternoon after her morning class had gone home. My mother, already having to attend to my 2 year old sister, would despair at converting my wet, grubby morning self into a schoolgirl in time for the 1pm start. (Crazy idea, now I think of it again.)

When the days grew longer,  we spent hours climbing the stunted hawthorn trees on the hillier side of this area; swinging from branches and making dens under - or on top - of them. And then there were the marathons, when we ran round and round a small path that cut through the long grass until we were gasping and scarlet in the face ... and the hiding places in the grass where we used sticks for rifles ... to say nothing of playing chase the arrows all over Hyndland, all the way to Clarence Drive ...

I was always grubby, always scratched, always exhausted by the time our parents summoned us all from the windows of our flats. When we left Hyndland for a "low door" in Broomhill I was devastated. At the age of 10, my life outwith school had been changed for ever. Shades of the prison house ...

I looked up my old haunts on Google Earth. They're barely recognisable, though "my" tenements haven't changed. This first picture is of the play area I've described in such tedious detail. The whole tenement block on the right is new - that's where the rubbish and the overground air raid shelters were. The trees are new - though clearly they've been growing for a while. The play-park just visible on the left is new, and I would have scorned it as tame and at the same time treacherous (I always got sick on swings).

 The second picture looks from the same place as the first, down Novar Drive. New tenements on the left - but you can make out where the old ones begin, with a lane in between which was always there. The top flat we lived in has the bay window just before that tall chimney head on the right of the road. It all looks very crowded, with the cars on either side. We played in the street and in our wilderness, and no-one worried. (Actually, children don't know the secret worries of the mother marooned with a baby in a top flat who suddenly can't see her firstborn and wonders where it might be ...).

What I'd actually like to know is how my own offspring would have fared in this environment, instead of the seaside town we brought them up in - and even how their children would cope with a top flat. What I do know for myself is that I couldn't return.

It was good, though, back then ...

Holyrood Secondary – Glow Literacy Site by K Barrowman⤴

from @ Glow Gallery

Holyrood Secondary School, Govanhill, Glasgow

In Holyrood Secondary school we have used the office 365 Glow sites, incorporating tools such as the Newsfeed, surveys, document stores and embedded media with our S1 and S2 pupils (800 children in total).

The site has lots of literacy based activities and links. There are standing activities, such as a reading club, links to external competitions, and a place to share writing. There is also a weekly challenge, with three activities based around a theme, each of which allows pupils to practice their literacy skills and share the results. An added bonus is that using the site ties in with the school’s rewards programme for S1 and S2 pupils, the Holyrood Challenge, and pupils can earn points for contributing to the site.

2

The Initial set-up of the site took about 4 hours, over a few days, and it takes around an hour each week to archive the previous week’s challenge, collate the points to be awarded, and set up the new challenges.

The impact has been increased learner engagement outside of school. All of the young people who engage with the site are doing so out of choice, and it has fostered a sense of community across classes and year groups. It has been an opportunity for wider achievement, and a really fun way of getting to know kids not in my classes.

3

Pupils are now aware of Glow, and what it can be used for. The maths department have set up a Numeracy group, and other departments are interested in getting involved. There is a greater willingness among staff and pupils to use online tools for learning. It has also offered a ‘safe’ environment for publishing and celebrating work, which some learners prefer to publishing on a public facing website.

I have now moved on from the school, but I will be working with one of the teachers to take over the running of the site for next session. I hope it will go from strength to strength!

… Starting points⤴

from @ Mimanifesto - Jaye's weblog

When we think about gender and the bible, it is a reminder that the bible is an excellent starting point for conversations about how we should live today. It is the people who think the bible is the last word on modern human behaviour who are distorting the text and abusing the text in ways which we should properly find offensive

 

So says St Mary’s Cathedral Provost kelvin Holdsworth, in the text of a sermon preached recently. As a treatise on gender, marriage and the church, it’s an excellent starting point, but it’s also a reflection of the genuine and heartfelt message the Cathedral clergy and congregation send to Glasgow and the rest of the world about the Christian faith – our faith….

Open, Inclusive, Welcoming – a good starting point for  any organisation. 


Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: bible, cathedral, Christian, Gender, Glasgow, Kelvin Holdsworth, Marriage, St Mary's

Contrasting equalities⤴

from @ Mimanifesto - Jaye's weblog

TutuI attended the Friday morning service of Holy Communion at St George’s Cathedral Cape Town today. It was a beautiful peaceful reflective space, with young students visiting from two USA universities filling out the usual smallish crowd of worshipers. Archbishop Desmond Tutu presided as is usual on Friday mornings when he’s in Cape Town, helped by the Dean, Michael Weeder. Included in the prayers this morning were the LGBT community of America as they await the USA supreme court ruling on same sex marriage. Archbishop Tutu has long campaigned for equality and makes his points both on the world stage and quietly as a priest during the Friday dawn mass over which he presides. The Dean is also a supporter of equality, and it was he who offered the prayers today, following his sermon on Sunday which referred to the current issues in the Anglican Church over LGBT equality. I’m shamelessly including this photo of me with him as he’s one of my ultimate heroes. Thank you for the photo and the conversation, father Desmond:-)

Contrast this with the awful treatment two of our friends received at the hands of staff at the Polo Lounge in Glasgow recently. Nathan and Robert are both disabled, and it was this that was the cause of their troubles at the hands of the staff at this establishment, owned and run by Stephan King’s G1 entertainment company. Whilst Nathan was physically carried out of the club by a bouncer, Robert was left crawling about on the floor after having been refused entry due to his being disabled. Two police vans had been summoned by staff.  You can read more about the incident here. A bit of a faux-pas for the meatheads on the Polo door as Nathan and Robert are probably two of the most visible and well connected members of the Scottish LGBT community. Nathan works for the Equality Network in fact. They are now considering action against the G1 group under the Equalities Act for discrimination on the grounds of disability. Good luck to them, and remember their story if you’re thinking of visiting the Polo for some of their usual indifferent service and overpriced drinks… Tweet them and tell them what you think about their discrimination (note to owners, it is more than possible to have a ramp up the steps in front of what used to be Cafe Moda which links through to the Polo…and toilets shouldn’t be a problem either…as I remember)

South Africa legislated for equality in its post Apartheid constitution. Scotland and the rest of the UK are following. Let’s hope G1 and the Polo stop dragging their knuckles across the ground and wake up to this….its called progress and social justice…

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: disability, Equality, G1 group, Glasgow, Marriage equality, Polo Lounge, Same-sex marriage, St Georges, Tutu

Pervixi … in memoriam ABF⤴

from @ blethers

ABF and Mr B, 2012

I don't know what prompted me to take the above photo, but today I'm glad that I halted, called to the others to stop and smile in Great Western Road on a suddenly chilly Corpus Christi evening last year. It was my last but one meeting with one of my oldest friends. Alastair Fulton - forever ABF in my memory - died last week, and as I shall miss his funeral, in St Mary's Cathedral which we had just left when that photo was taken, this is my memory.


ABF was one of the first people I met outwith the 60-strong contingent of undergraduates from my old school when I went to Glasgow University as a fresher. He was a leading light in the Cecilian Society, and it was there that I realised what a wonderful comic actor he was - to say nothing of the wonderful tenor singing voice that years later joined the New Consort of Voices and brought him, memorably, to the Cathedral of The Isles on Cumbrae. On that occasion, he appeared at breakfast in the North College wearing yellow ochre pyjamas decorously covered by his borrowed surplice, having forgotten a dressing gown. Strangely, another ineradicable memory involves Alastair singing The Judge's Song from Trial by Jury wearing a white cardigan on his head: the Cecilian concert party used to perform for such oddly-named organisations as The Scottish Girls' Friendly Society (can this be real?) and in this particular concert performance ABF obviously felt the lack of costume and seized the cardi from one of the sopranos.

One year I invited him as my partner to the QM Ball; he was a splendid dancer and I've never been so entertained by any dance partner since (sorry, Mr B!).
The evening fled past on a wave of hilarity. Decades later, ABF loved to recount the memory of my father, appearing in his dressing gown at 3am to see his eldest daughter safely into the house and to engage this amusing young man in the kind of conversation he too loved. As ABF prepared to leave, my father told him that he would find "the usual offices", should he care to avail himself, on the landing.

Later, when I had left university and was a student at Jordanhill College, my school placement for teaching practice in Latin took me to Jordanhill College School, where ABF was now on the staff of the Classics department - a strange sense of continuity, of nothing really changing - and, five years further on, we found ourselves both on the staff of Hillhead High School, a happy coincidence that had Alastair turning up outside our marital home every morning to give me a lift to work and found us practising Byrd in a corner of the music department.

Over the years, the contact remained, intermittent but easy. ABF regarded Dunoon as dangerously rural; on one visit he became agitated as we walked along the (pavementless) coastal road at Toward. "There's someone coming," he hissed. There was indeed a distant figure, on the other side of the road, heading our way. "Do you know this person? Should we greet him?" More recently, sitting in the sun in our garden, it was he who realised that there was a thrush nesting in one of our shrubs, and carefully assisted me to retrieve the laundry from the line to avoid disturbing it. And constantly, over the years since I retired from teaching and took up blogging, he has been an assiduous and hilarious poster of comments - erudite, irascible, argumentative, hilarious. As he shared my tendency to midnight computing, I would often laugh myself into a state that rendered sleep impossible.

I realise I've only given a snapshot of a life here - the bits I saw and enjoyed. I know Alastair had his difficult times, and I know my mother used to enjoy meeting him in the cafés around Byres Road. I appreciated hugely his presence at her funeral, as I enjoyed sharing him with my family and friends at our Ruby Wedding party. I saw him twice last year - at the afore-mentioned occasion in St Mary's, and at the funeral of a friend's mother. He phoned me in Holy Week, amazingly upbeat and as amusing as ever despite the illness I'd only just heard about. His death came as a horrible surprise.

It's hard to write this in the knowledge that one of my favourite readers will not be commenting on it this evening; it's hard to think I have lost yet another person who would always have the answer to the difficult - or merely crazy - linguistic query. The heavenly choir may even now be rejoicing in the song of a new tenor - but down here the gap is immense.

Make sure they get the Latin right, Alastair ...

Pervixi; neque enim fortuna malignior unquam
Eripiet nobis quod prior hora dedit.

Petronius Arbiter

Pure dead relevant⤴

from @ blethers

The other evening - well, more like teatime - I attended an Information Evening in the University of Glasgow Medical School, the atrium of whose new building appears left. For several years now I have supported the Beatson Pebble Appeal, and now that the new building is in place, I have transferred that support to work in cardiac and stroke research. Call it enlightened self-interest. An agreeable spin-off from this comes in the shape of invitations to interesting events in the University, of which the other evening was an example. (Sadly, I can't go to the one of the future of print media - I'd be better informed at that!)

I've decided I like going back these days, though buildings like this have transformed the campus from my student days. I found it personally fascinating to sit in a lecture theatre and be enthused about a subject of which I know next to nothing, and to talk to researchers about their work - the two I spent some time with did a pretty good job of making their specialisms intelligible to an ignoramus like me. Clever, enthusiastic, committed people - what's not to like?

I have to add here that I share Mr B's sense of the evening's reminding him of those tales of a pal of a med student who donned a white coat and snuck into an operating theatre only to pass out at the sight of blood - so many of the guests were obviously medics, some of them possibly of Lister's era (I exaggerate, but ...) who had at least a handle on what was happening. I felt the need to preface every conversation with the apology "We're Arts graduates, but ..."

But it made me think. What use had my degree been to anyone? The Medical School is enormous and forward-looking and I'm glad - but I studied English Lit., Early English language, Latin ... cui bono? So that I can use tags like that and know why? So that I can slip bits of Shakespeare or Eliot into a Tweet and wonder if anyone will notice? I know that there are things going on inside my mind that are informed by what I learned all those years ago - but what did I ever do with them, what help were they to my fellow-creatures?

That's where I'm stuck at the moment. It must be wonderful to do something that directly affects life itself. One of the speakers on Wednesday had been delayed because he'd been called away to see a new stroke patient - how good to feel that something you know or propose might mean the difference between that patient's recovering or not. How completely relevant to us all. Does it matter (I ask myself) if that doctor lapses into comma-splice in a communication?

They served some mean canapés afterwards as well.

Talking posh⤴

from @ blethers

Just before I left the house this morning, I caught a snatch of Call Kaye on the radio. Should we be insisting that our children talk 'properly'? Sadly, in Scotland that tends to mean adopting a Pan Loaf accent - and, worse, using the first person of the personal pronoun regardless of grammatical context. And so it was, as I hovered over the off switch, that I heard with a crushing sense of inevitability a brief skit of a family scene. Pan loaf Mum, Glesgae Dad, silent wean. Mum: "You don't want to disgrace your father and I."

Grrrrr.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
Location:Dunoon ferry