Thursday, 10 December 2009

Glasgow Men

McDonough was his name, but he also masqueraded under the name of Flanagan to be associated with the heroes of an earlier time. A big man he was, both in name and of stature. He had the most determined of walks, and would make a show of the defiance by way of his stride.

No working man on the docks of Glasgow had time for Flanagan. Not even when he was in the company of money, and the drink was abound.

A Catholic man he was, and loud with it. His chest bore no symbols of Ulster or the red hand. When he took to striding down the dock at the back of two, many a man would tremble behind his piece and tremble the jar of the warm Barry tea.

“Move that feckin jay-ket, can you’se no see that ah’m an important man in need of a seat?” he would cry.

If the owner of the coat was slow to move, Flanagan would reach down and toss it into the waters murky depths out of sheer spite.

“You’ll no need to be telt the twice again!” he would proclaim to all those before him.

Many eyes would flash with the anger of it all, but Flanagan was a union man and no to be crossed by those who relied on the Friday shilling to keep their families warm.

It was the Saturday after the funeral of the first born son, which saw my faither sitting alone on the bitterly cold dock with his auld mash of tea by his side. A small space had been cleared by the men, who although they could not utter the soft words of comfort to a bereaved man of Glasgow, could muster a show of respect by leaving him be.

It was then that Flanagan chose to make his imposing entrance.

He stood in front of the faither and pointed at the small brown keepsake of a shoe fae the boy who had been lost to the terrible cough. It was his only remembrance of a life taken so young.

“Move that, or fish it back oot” came Flanagan’s harrying cry. “Whit is it, a wee dolly shoe?” said the man who had little thought for anyone but his self.

The faither rose, and stood before the great bull of a man. The look of the divil came about his face, but he stood square before him, and looked into his eyes as he reached out and took the big man firmly by his haund.

“I pity you Flanagan” said my faither. The very inside of you is cold, and you will never feel the love or the warmth of a child. My first born is only just laid to rest, and yet the love he leaves inside of my soul will always stay with me."

"You have no one, and will always remain an empty shell of a man to the end. Turn away and be gone, take this heed and wear it well, for I cannae guarantee what the rage will do to a dog such as you.”

But McDonough who was also Flanagan, did not heed the warning of my faither, and was brutally pitched over the side by the very same men who could no find the words for a bereaved man of the docks.

Let no talk of religion, nor the softness of words stand between men born of poverty, and Glasgow’s proud men of the shipyards.
No a word was said between the two for more than the passing of ten years, until the morning Flanagan was cold and present at his own wake.

It was a sparse congregation that stood and watched my faither enter the chapel and approach the man who could find no happiness even under two names.

“Now I can finally forgive you” said my faither, as he placed a blackened welder’s glove atop the casket lid.

“Now you fully understand the pain of loss, but sadly it is your own. Pray that no man will ever ask you to move this glove.”

His words were vague to those who stood about the casket, but some eyes smiled. There were those in attendance who remembered back to that bitterly cold day on the dock.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

When A Man Loves A Woman

To be perfectly honest, this post was never intended to be written due to the personal nature of the content within. I feel that at least one of my dearest blogging friends, the very beautiful Pat, will be dismayed as she takes in the tale I am about to unfold.

The bond between husband and wife is a very precious one, and although I admittedly did play the field during my younger days (why are you all immediately thinking of Madame DeFarge?) I have never once broken my sacred vows to Siobhan.

However... a man has many needs during his lifetime and not all of them can be slaked by whisky and the company of his pals. Inevitably, during the course of married life, especially when the children are grown, and away fae the nest, a gap can appear between husband and wife, and that gap needs to be filled.

I didn’t set out intentionally to go behind Siobhan’s back; it was never my intention to make secret phone calls, or to rendezvous with a woman some five years younger than her good self. It started by sheer coincidence one evening whilst I was recovering from the first bout of the silliness with my health.

I came across a particular website which advertised a service slightly unusual than most. It was for those who are interested in certain things that are not often talked about outside of certain groups of people, especially those who are not into shall we say... horny things.

I made the initial contact with a very polite sounding woman, and unusual for me, we exchanged contact numbers, and discussed a fee for exactly what it was that I had in mind.

We met on several occasions after that, and things happened by way of Mother Nature, and it wasn’t long before we became excited about our little secret, and the meetings became more and more frequent. It felt great to be able to fill the need that had so long been missing between Siobhan and me for a number of years.

Yes, the guilt of the secret wore heavily on my mind, but the planning and the meetings between me and this particular lady was beginning to be so much fun. I admit that some nights as I lay next to Siobhan, my mind wandered back to where I had been only hours before.

Last week I received the phone call that I had long awaited, and I made a mad dash fae my home to be by her side when the kid was born. The feeling was immense, and the paternal instincts kicked in immediately and I was able to participate in the feeding, and the naming of our newborn kid.

Obviously with Christmas just around the corner, I have to pick the right moment to introduce Siobhan to the little one, so tomorrow morning I have chosen to be the day when I drive her across to my lady friend’s farm, and for the very first time she will see the beautiful creation in all of her wonderful glory.

Yes.. you guessed it. Tomorrow I will give Siobhan an early Christmas present of a tiny wee goat. I’ve named her ‘Beauty’ after the most precious woman in my life that is soon to be her new mammy.

Ahhh come on. You didn’t really think I was talking about anything else now, did you?

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Midnight Ravens

A scuffed brown shoe sat forlornly by the blade of the shovel. Its lace, despite the violence, was still neatly tied by way of a carefully knotted bow.

He looked about him into the darkness. It was nothing more he wanted than to take back the actions of his exertions. All around him was still and calm, and the dead of night mocked him for his weakness. The frenzied shovelling left only a small uneven mound of earth to betray the hiding of the divils work beneath.

It was but a small trickle of earth that fought a losing battle against gravity, as it made its way towards a final resting place beneath the broken turf. A dried leaf hanging by the silken guilt of many a spider's thread. Left, right, back and straight to a hell, the scratching hands beneath the sod, as midnight ravens came to dance.

It was death, and only the lurid glow of a waxy moon betrayed the fear behind his eyes. Already a merciless haund gripped at his heart as the fear was replaced by a dull acknowledgement of fate. A cruel mistress it was, and one that would visit him often in the darkest of hours for many nights to come.

A pendulum swung over him for years, and many beautiful things turned to that of the ugliness of guilt about him. The blackest shadows of death’s cloaked mantle engulfed his veins with ice. It was to be a lifetime of regret that lay ahead afore the boy himself. He semi-existed in a half world where time stood still, and the years ground down like that of blunted cogs upon an anvil of despair.

They came from afar to see the final calling of the sod. Not a single horse with blackened brass to pull a coach resplendent of the dead. No glorious breath to waft from autumn’s equine mouth. No cobbled striking hooves to mark the beat as we marched along to the sounding of the end. Not one flying column marched behind the single tinker’s cart.

The lone frailties of the collector’s man had long since gone. The bone of my bones, the flesh of my flesh. Fourteen years nurtured in Glasgow's murderous vat, yet never to see or feel the sweetened ripened taste of an older age.

Like waxen mannequins, they stood before the mourners, an epitome of emptiness.We sang the songs that fiddlers love to play. Like rainbow contrasts, joy and sorrow, grace and sin, life and death, the earth took back its balance of men. No more the ravens call his name. Birds fly on paper wings while auld men cry as they mourn beside the violin.

Blood stains easily the wringing of the haunds, as they of innocent lives beg for salvation fae an invisibility of many a hidden god.