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    some merr Glesca poems II Poems    page 1   page2   page3    page4   page5

Two poems about that most beloved memory, the memory of oor Tenements...

1.  Nostalgia for a Tenement 2.  Nostalgia of the Tenement 3 Born in Bridgeton

Nostalgia for a Tenement
by John Cairney

It’s a sordid derelict wasteland now where not even weeds will grow
But I did on that very spot, many years ago
For here once stood a building proud and clean and neat
Now there’s no trace of that special place in the rubble at my feet
But I can remember long ago and once upon a time
What’s to remember – please yourself – the family bible on the shelf
The jawbox where I washed my feet after tanner ba’ fitba’ in the street
Old zinc bath below the bed where you kept your bike racing red
Black leaded range, soup in the pot, a shilling on Saturday that’s your lot
Kettle never off the boil, nightly dose of caster oil
The squeal of pullies through the wall, the woman’s face that says it all
Grime and grease and sentiment, nostalgia for a tenement

Pipeclay patterns on the stairs, sit in the sun on kitchen chairs
The swan necked well, brasses shining, your granny’s fur coat with its satin lining
The paper blinds with a street light chink, the ne’r day bottle you dare not drink
The clatter of milk cans, the sweet smell of chips, back close kisses from cold pursed lips
The clock on the brace, wally dugs, the house in the close that was bared for bugs
The tablecloth for visitors only, the man in the single end, batchelor lonely
It takes all kinds to represent, nostalgia for a tenement

The Salvation Army’s Sabbath alarm, the cart that came round with eggs from the farm
The girl up the next close married a Yank the day you dropped your bool doon a stank
Tea in a caddy, biscuits in a tin, box in the wardrobe to keep photographs in
Saving up for the school trip, join the ménage, bargains at the barras, up to every dodge
A medal from the first world war, the insurance money in the drawer
The two pound jar of rhubarb jam, the rattle of a Toll Cross tram
Footsteps in the wet cement, nostalgia for a tenement

One, two, three a leery, see a lassie spin a peerie
Dabbities and candy rock, get all dressed up for the Sunday walk
Pitch and Toss at the sheltered spot, watch for the polis – don’t get caught
Beds on the pavement, guidies and girds, skinny black cats and wee broon birds
Step for a hint, a big white jaurry, hudgie rides on the back of a lorry
Allevio, moshey, roller skates, night at the carnival with some of your mates
Doon the water at the Fair, Millport, Rothsay, Saltcoats or Ayr
Kirby grips or a big dod of string, oor kitchen dresser had everything
The messages you were always sent, nostalgia for a tenement

Bunker in the lobby, gas cooker in the press, 
the lavi in the landing, the bed in the recess
The midgie man, the roan pipes, washing roon the back, 
Tizers at the Tallis, the coalman’s stoorie sack
The fly wee bookie’s runner who hings aboot the close,
The fella in your class at school who aye had a snottery nose
Ashes in the ash pan, wax cloth on the floor, 
a neighbour out of sugar, just chap at the nearest door
Friday night at the pictures, see you in the queue
Standing at the corner, nothing else to do
The Cruelty man, the School Board, all the men that came to the door
The Rent man, the Gas man, the man from the Co-op store
The Rag man’s cheeky bugle call, bouncing off the gable wall
The mysterious lodger who came and went, nostalgia for a tenement

And if things were bad, you were never too sad, at least you were never alone
No matter the bother, you relied on each other, for the street took care of its own
The goodies and baddies, the in-betweens, the never will be’s and the never have beens
Gallus courageous playing their part, using the head, sometimes the heart
In that concrete canyon, asphalt veil, already cut off and beyond the pale
Survivors in that common band, safe in their own never-ever land
An accordion's two o’clock in the morning lament, nostalgia for a tenement

Now it is rubble, my boyhood home, 
nothing of it left but a vacant space
Devoid of grace, of all dignity bereft,
A playing field of litter, rubbish strewn and bare
And only the ghost of a building now haunts the empty air
But close your eyes and you will see in misty skies of memory
That man-made mountain, great bee hive, a warren of homes that was once alive
A carousel of families going up and down, a tapestry of images, a village in a town
My urban tribe, my city clan, part of my childhood’s innocent span
All that we needed was there in the street, boxed in a building secure and complete
And if it now has returned to dust, so in the end must all of us
But we can still remember the young days spent, nostalgia for a tenement.

.Posted on May 13, 2003 at 16:28:37 by Sandra [ PA ] 

Extracted May 13, 2003 Betty Murphy [ new zealand ] (email tba)
When I lived in MacDuff Street, John was at university with the guy down the stair from us I was about 13/ 14, God he was handsome then, all the girls had a crush on him , up oor close anyway, and when he became famous, well there was no living with us, I bet we all remember him , but he'll no remember us!


Email June 2003 Marian Forte (nee Cookman) Adelaide, South Australia  
Hi Webmaister I thought that I would pass this on to you. Nostalgia of the Tenement


  I saw a barefoot boy today, and memory sent me far away,
To times and happening,s long since past, the sands of time are  running fast, 
as deep within my mind I see. a bare foot lad that once was me.
Of folks and places a' well kent--- Nostalgia of the Tenement 

Two wally jugs upon the brace, Maw throw me over a jeely  piece
The jaw box where I scrubbed my feet, the pipe clay patterns of the street
We little had o' worldly wealth, a jelly pan upon the shelf
  A jug or two at Christmas sent,---Nostalgia of the Tenement. 

Milk cans rattling at the dawn, the fender stool we a' sat on
The Monday ritual of the pawn, things and customs long since gone,
The jet black kettle on the hob, The dinner cover minus  knob.
The old zinc bath below the bed, The Heilan solider made of lead,
The next door neighbour old and bent,--- Nostalgia of the Tenement

The day I won a hundred jorries, stolen rides on the back of lorries,

A gollywog deprived of hair, "Doon the Watter" at the fair
The loaby and the kitchen press, the blankets in the old wood chest,
Things if childly sentiment, ---Nostalgia of the Tenement

The Rumble of the Riddrie tram, A two pound pot of Rhubarb jam,

A card from Flanders from the war, insurance money in the drawer
  The waxcloth cover, fresh and bright, the bath brick used on Friday night

A footprint in the new cement--- Nostalgia of the Tenement
The built in bed where "oor weans slept 
Green bunker where the coal was kept
The dabbities that widna stick, the old oil lamp ,the flickering wick

Saturday pennies carefully spent,--- Nostalgia of the Tenement.

Hunch Cuddy Hunch, kick the can, the barefoot miles we ran and ran,

Peever, forfeits, gird and stick, release and moshie, take your pick
These were the games of yesterday, little we new of adult fear,

Ragged and robust with happy content,- Nostalgia of the Tenement.
  The clabber dancing, mouth piece band, how many cards are in my hand.?
The Dykes, the jumps, the battered toes, climbs, adventures, tattered cloths

Guesses at the sweetie shop, meeting at the tramway stop,

Patched up sheets make a Bonnie Tent---Nostalgia of the Tenement.
The picnics at the cuddie park, We scurry home before its dark,

Ali Baly- whose got the ball? wickets chalked upon the wall

Eddie Polo pearly white, episode three on a saturday night,
Oh ! for the days so happy spent--Nostalgia of the Tenements.

Nuts and apples, Halloween, dook for them, the bath is clean,

Ha'penny pea-brae, vinegar sour, Georges square, pinch a flower,
Wan two three a leerie, I went out to spin my peerie,
The ship that sailed eely-ally o' a step for the hint I didn't know,

Never a word of discontent---Nostalgia of the Tenement.

Are you a Billy or a Dan? Somebody sent the cruelty man.

Take your choice, cock or hen, join the fitba team again,
  and though we didn't own a thing, some papers and a dawd of string
 would make a ball that we could boot until the polis made us scoot
Up the close and through the Pen... Nostalgia of the Tenement.,

The caur has disappeared for good, A car yards where the chippie stood

The old Toonhead, A wind swept wreck, the tally shop's a discothèque

and as I reach for my final page, I look back on bye-gone age and
wish that once again...could I... here my mithers  night time cry
"Get ben the room and coorie doon" children of  dear Glesca toon.

  Close the book, my muse is spent--Nostalgia of the Tenement

Feb.2010, Moira Kerr, Glasgow
Hi It was great meeting PiggeryBrae.  I enjoyed your spot.  I was in glescapals and went into "poetry" and was delighted to see "Nostalgia Of The Tenement"  the one  "I saw a barefoot boy today"  It was written by my uncle Claude Currie who died years ago, but I remember him reading it to me. Cheers, Moira

Born in Bridgeton 
Composed by David D Crawford  aka The Craw

I am proud I was born in Bridgeton, up a close in a wee single end.
We were fortunate enough with our neighbours, for their kindness you could ever depend.
You could always tap milk, tea,or sugar, or perhaps just a wee bit of Stork,
with the promise it would be immediately returned when your Faither got in from his work.

It was common to share the close cludgie, with a string and a key on the end,
when we all stood in line for the lavvie ,for your place you would strongly defend.
Yir Maw would be off to the steamie ,leaving you to look effter the weans,
and it was your turn to wash oot the cludgie with its horrible big dark brown stains.

Ma Da he wid lie in his scratcher, it wiz Saturday you see,
with his studying of the dugs and the horses, and Davie geeze a wee cup O tea.
I remember coming home with my Brother, from a trip we had made into town,
and my wee Maw wiz sitting therr greetin, that her wee single end wiz to come down.

There was no consoling ma Mother, to that fact she would one day face,
That she would just have to stand to one side, and let them demolish he ain wee place .
We got over that initial shock, with the help of good neighbours, and friends,
and we finally accepted the horrible fact ,It was the death knell for the wee single end.

I can still hear the laughter, and singing, we enjoyed with our neighbours and friends,
it was part of my childhood upbringing you see, in that warm, although cramped, single end.
We`ve moved on, and I have Grandkids of my own now, I recall my early years with a wee greet,
how wee Alex, and Ina ever managed to cope, in a single end in 15 Colbert St.

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