The Easter Parade
The Easter Parade! Naw no the wan wae the wimmin aw done up in thir finery an
easter bunnets innat, struttin elegantly in the warm spring sunshine. Ah'm
talkin aboot the BB Parade! Ye know? The Boy's Brigade.
Still gaun strong it is but no as strong as it wis then. The idea behine the BB
wis tae gie the backstreet boays sumhin constructive tae dae wae thir time ither
thin hingin aboot street coarners innat. Teach them some discipline, self
respect, morals and fortitude - innat.
It mimicked the army bae gein the lads a 'military' style uniform and teachin
them skills like merchin (marching) an salutin an how tae communicate wae wan
inither usin flags an morse code. Aw essential street skills furr the Glesca
streets! It wis based oan the assumption thit aw boays secretly wanted tae be
sojers. [In the early days they even issued the boys with widddin (wooden)
rifles!] But bae the time mah brother an me wurr jined up, two world wars an the
threat of nuclear oblivion hid noaked that notion right oot wirr heids! The only
sojers we wirr interestit in wirr the wee plastic wans thit wae wid play wae oan
eh flerr (floor), urr wans made a choaclit (chocolate).
The uniform consisted of a BB belt (broad leather belt wae a big brass buckle
wae an anchor motif), a pill boax cap (thit looked lik an upturned floo-er poat
(flowerpot)), an a white canvas 'haversack' furr ceremonial occasions. An
armband sported whitever merit badges urr awards ye might hiv an also displayed
any stripes ye hid earned tae show yer 'rank'. Aw in aw it wis a kinna junior
When aw lined up ye presented a motley crew. The belt wid be strapped tight,
roon yer waist, an ower yir jaiket/anorak/pullover, the ceremonial haversack wis
slung ower yir shooder an goat stuffed unner the belt tae wan side, an wae the
hat worn at a jaunty angle - We wir the boays!
Anywae, Easter wis aye the big event. We'd aw be warned bae the Captain oan the
Friday night that if wae didnae turn up fur the big easter church parade that
Sunday then woe betide us. We wid be excluded fae future gemmes a fitbaw. We'd
lose attendance points (that meant nae prize at the end eh the season - usually
a book or bible). Oor parents wid be spoken tae, an we might even be de-moted,
assumin we'd been moted in the furst place! Ther wid be a weepin an a gnashin of
teeth the like of whit hid never bin seen afore if wae daert miss the Easter
So wae aw trooped oot oan Easter Sunday moarnin. Intae the Glesca wind an the
rain. The getherin point wid be aboot a mile fae the church an we'd aw mill
aboot freezin an grumpy an wantin tae get it ower wae an get back hame tae wurr
Ah used tae see these BB magazines showin pictures eh wir foreign BB
counterparts in distant lands ie. Africa, Australia - hot, dry places. All
grinning an lookin like they wir luvvin evry minnit eh it!
Us? We wir staunin in a huddle, in the middle eh a street, maest eh us in shoart
troosers wae berr legs, shiverin, soaked, freezin, shiverin an wunnerin if aw
this wis worth a gemme a fitba an a book/bible at the end eh the year. Did ah
mention eh shiverin?
The assembly process seemed tae take furrevir! Big parades lik this attractit
other BB companies fae aroon Glesca an it took ages furr them tae aw arrive an
soart thimsells oot.
Wae wid be lined up, shoogled aboot, merched doon the street a few hunner yerds,
turned roon aboot, shunted sidewaes, marched backwards, shuffled sidiewaes
again... oan and oan it went, while the rain battered doon, wirr feet squelched
and the belt buckles rattled fae oor shiverin.
"COMPANY! FALL IN!"
Oor Captain wid shout at the tap eh eez voice, strugglin tae bae heard ower the
sound eh the wind, chatter, an eejits blawin bugles an batterin drums in
tenement closes. We'd aw shuffle aboot tryin tae organise oorsels intae somethin
"TALLEST TO THE LEFT , SHORTEST TO THE RIGHT, SINGLE RANK - SIZE!!!" he wid
Maist eh us didnae know oor left fae oor right, an as furr whit size we wurr? So
wae jist shuffled aboot some merr an hoped furr the best.
A couple of officers wid wade in an grab the tallest guy an manouvre him intae
pole position. Then they'd manhandle the rest eh us intae a line wae the wee-ist
at the other end. This done, the Captain wid kerry oot the inspection, slowly
struttin alang the line. This guy aye seemed impervious tae the weather. Mine
you the big trench coat doon tae the ankles must hiv helped a loat. He seemed
tae sort a 'glide' past ye as if eh wis oan castors. An the umbrella wis a
positive asset. An a couldnae help bit noticin thit eez shoes didnae squelch
like mine did!
"DID YOU POLISH THAT BELT BUCKLE LAST NIGHT WILSON?" he'd scream at mah face.
"Yes Sir!" I'd retort in a spray of rainwater as it run aff mah nose, doon oan
tae mah lips an dribbled aff mah chin.
"IT DOESN'T LOOK LIKE IT FROM HERE!"
It was hard to believe that oan any ither day eh the week yid find this
nonentity filin invoices in an obscure oaffice sumwher. He clearly loved this
Ah used tae envy the boays in the bonn (band). That fly lot wirr usually aff tae
the side, in the shelter a shoap doorways an closes, 'tunin thir
instruments'(that meant bangin the drums occasionally and blawin a tuneless
blast fae a bugle.
As the various companies arrived and the battallion of Glesca's fine young
fightin men grew, evrybiddy wis oot thir windaes watchin, admirin, cheerin,
Ah wance tried tae get intae the band but ah couldnae evir get a noise oot the
bugle let alane a note.
"Blaw harder!" the instructor wid say, an ah'd blaw tae mah face turnt purple -
"Purse yer lips and spit." eh wid say.
So ah'd gie it mah best shot. A big green glob wid shoot silently fae the open
end eh the bugle, much tae the disgust of aw aroon! So ah gave up oan that. Mah
Grandaddy Wilson, Salvation Armiest, bugle player an band leader, widnae hiv
been impressed wae meh at aw!
Ah hid a wee bit merr success wae the drums though. Managed tae batter oot mah
'mammy-daddys', 'rolls' an some other stuff that ah cannae mine the name ah
(two-sixes, nine-threes, parradiddles - urr sumhin lik that). Bit when it came
tae playin durin band practice in the in the church hall oan cauld Setturday
moarnins, mah fingers froze up an refused tae co-operate. So mah dreams ah
becomin the nixt Eric Delaney [google it!]wir shattered an ah hid tae accept
thit the band wisnae furr me. Ah wis relagatit tae the rank an file, wan eh 'le
miserables', at the church parades.
Meanwhile back oan the street, things wid eventually begin tae take some kinna
shape. A long column of wet, sniffin, scruffy Glesca youth wid form thimsells
intae sumhin resemblin a bedraggled army of refugees returnin fae the front.
The moarnin wid be brightened up wae the arrival eh the Girl Guides. They wirr
the female equivalent eh the BB. Ah don't know if aw these lasses wanted tae be
sojers but thae sure looked better than us, in thir blue uniforms an stuff. Big
Deirdre wis a firm favourite. Big lassie wis D. The weather never seemed tae
bother hurr. She wis a 'Colour Bearer' furr the local troop. The reason furr
this wis thit she wis the only lassie big enough, an strong enough, tae kerry
Bae the time the whole thing goat underwae maist eh us wirr oan the verge a
hypothermia. Oor bonn wid bae merched intae position, the order given, an we'd
aw start movin furrit (forward). It wis supposed tae be merchin, but 'movin' wis
aboot as accurate a description as yir likely tae get. Jist as ye startit tae
get intae a bit eh a stride an yir circulation goat gaun, the guys in front eh
ye wid stoap deid. That meant ye ploughed right intae thir heels! They wid turn
an gie ye a moothfull, to whit ye wid be jist aboot tae return the sentiment
when the folk behind collided intae you! A squabble wid ensue. Unrest in the
ranks wid be quickly quelled bae the officers who patrolled the periphery and
"LEFT..! LEFT..! LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT!"
An officer wid shout out the step. A futile exercise as wae aw shuffled,
tripped, cursed an swung oor erms aboot lik eejits as wae sloshed through the
The bonn wid strike up. Tae be ferr, quite a few eh thim played thir instruments
no to bad. Aw the notes wirr ther - jist no necessarily in the right order! An
some seemed tae be playin a different tune awthigither! The only wan thit seemed
consistent wis the guy oan the big drum. He hid it sussed. Ah reckon ah could
hiv played the big drum but ah couldnae lift it, let alane walk an play it aht
the same time! If the Guides wid hiv hid a bonn, Big Deirdre wid hiv been thir
big drummer, wae aw agreed oan that!
Up aheid we could see the flags wavin. Well, no sah much wavin as... takin aff!
People don't realise how unwieldy thae flags an poles urr! An when ye get a
force 10 behin ye yir likely tae be jist a passenger!. The only wan thit
remained upright throughoot the merch wis Big Deirdres'. She wis sum lassie
ah'll tell ye. Respect.
Eventually we aw filed intae the church an sanctuary! Oot the wind an the rain.
Drippin oan the carpet an wipin wirr noses oan wir sleeves. As we filed doon the
aisles ther wid be squabbles brekkin oot as some guys tried tae get closer tae
the Guides. A think some guys wid hiv pit in furr transfers if thae thoat thaed
get away wae it! Bit the officers oan baith sides pit a stoap tae any
Afore the service stertit, the colours wid be merched doon tae the front eh the
church. Each colour party wid proudly merch thir flags doon the centre aisle and
place the poles in hauders in front eh the pulpit. Oor guys bae this time wirr
nackirt. They staggered doon that aisle, knees bucklin, flagpoles swingin aboot
erratically, nearly takin the minister's eye oot at wan point.
But the star eh the show wis always Deirdre. She strutted doon the aisle,
flagpole straight up in the err, tae calls of "Aun yirsel hen!" an "That's the
wae tae dae it!"
The worst bit eh the service furr me wis aye the singin. It's no that ah didnae
try in the early days. But when ah stertit tae make 'singin' noises wae mah
mooth, evrybiddy turnt roon tae look an giggle or sneer! Ah soon realised that
ah couldnae sing an thit ah wis pittin evrybiddy else aff, includin the
minister. So a stertit tae mime, an fund aht worked better. Even tae this day,
in the rerr (rare) occasion a find mahsell in a church, ah mime. Naebiddy
notices. In fact - ah don't hink ah'm the only wan thit dis it!!!
The great thing aboot the church service wis that ye wirr in oot the cauld an
rain, but the time came when ye hid tae face the elements again. So ootside wae
went, to an assembly point roon the coarner, an the whole process sterted ower.
The merch wis shoarter this time, the main purpose bein the 'Marchpast'. This
involved the whole throng merching past the front eh the church and 'saluting'
the minister an eez entourage who'd be lined up on the pavement. Noo here's a
strange thing, the rain ALWAYS stoaped when the minister stepped oot that
He'd be staunin ther, robes blawin in the wind, as we merched/shuffled/squelched
towards the church. As the front eh the column drew level wae the holy man, the
Captain wid salute an scream.
"EYES RIGHT!" (unless the minister was on the left of course!)
An we wid aw turn wir heids an look tae wir right. (Except furr the wans that
thoat thir right wiz oan thir left. They endit up lookin the wrang wae!)
Of course aw this meant we couldnae see wher wae wirr gaun and we enditt up,
bumpin intae each ither, walkin up each ither's heels an generally the whole
column gaun past the minister like a drunken centipede!
As soon as we wirr past the church, the rain wid stert again an thoughts turnt
tae hame, easter eggs, an a shoap tae spend the collection money!