Sunday, November 30, 2008

Whiny things

Went to a Thanksgiving party last night in the east end of Glasgow, which was a really good occasion. On the way there though RE and I, who had been in The Lansdowne having a beer and watching the All Blacks work it up England, went and collected GS and GS to give them a lift to the party. Needing some alcohol to take to it, well I was anyway - RE was driving (and had not partaken of beer while watching the rugby), we stopped outside an off licence in Maryhill Rd and I nipped in to do the necessary.

Now, dear gentle reader, I am no snob. Not in a real way anyway. But I do have certain standards, and I recognise that there are different, ahem, cultures living cheek by jowl all around Glasgow (and other places too).

One sure fire way of spotting the sort of area you're in is to walk into an off licence. For example, the ones in the west end, the trendy studenty west end, of Glasgow are bright welcoming places, often with large stacks of wine and beer from all around the world invitingly lying in the middle of the floor, from which you can make your selection if there's nothing on the wall shelves which takes your fancy. This is of course after having lifted down a few bottles to read their labels in an effort to aid the decision making process.

Not so the one in Maryhill Rd. You walk into what is essentially a cage three feet wide by six feet long. Everything is behind either metal bars or what looks like bulletproof plexi-glass. There's a tiny hatch which can be opened by the staff when they swap your money for their products. The important thing is that you can not touch anything, so you can't steal anything.

So into this cage I went, with two young chaps standing in front of me in the queue, both dressed in the ubiquitous ned uniform of white trackies (tracksuits to you and me). The first one, who was already being served, handed over his ten pound note, which at first the staff member attempted to refuse. When asked why, she told him that "half of it's missing!" In a uniquely Glasgow nasal whine, which sadly I really can't do justice to in the written word, he pleaded his case, hampered only slightly by the fact that he was clearly ripped out his tits on something rather stronger than mere alcohol. If you know what I mean. After not very much bargaining, the staff member relented and accepted the torn cash, at which point junkie boy was most enthusiastic in his offering of thanks. By the way.

So that left one person in front of me. He wasn't an obvious junkie, but looked like your average young ned. In a clearly well practised routine, he handed over his passport to the staff member, without being asked to, who checked his age and handed it back, and in a similar, yet less ripped to the tits, whine, he requested a bottle of fortified wine, and a packet containing ten cigarettes. Well, he actually said "a boattle 'o Buckie an' ten Mayfair", but I knew what he meant, speaking fluent ned when required due to that requirement often being called upon in a previous occupation.

So far so normal. In some places anyway. But there was a follow up question from the staff member, clearly well versed in the partaking of said Buckfast Tonic Wine, which caused me some surprise. She asked him if he'd like one from the fridge. Neddy boy merely whined "Aye!" in a tone of whine that suggested "of course you silly lady, why ever would I want a warm one?".

So, my educational horizon has been expanded yet again, every day being a school day and all that guff. In my years growing up in deepest, darkest Lanarkshire I was obviously aware of the presence of Buckfast. I even tasted it once. And I served it, ironically of course, insisting that all present tasted it, at the housewarming party in my previous flat on the grounds that I'd moved back from Renfrewshire to Glasgow, which is technically in Lanarkshire, so I should serve the local wine! But until that moment of Epiphany last night, I never knew it was apparently best drunk chilled! I can't wait for next summer!

So, he departed and that left me. I asked for some bottles of Corona beer, which the staff member walked away to get. While she was away though, another three people came in behind me. Nedettes. In all their glory. "Oh shit!" I thought, knowing what else I had been tasked with obtaining. The Corona was brought to the counter (still behind the screen though, you don't get it passed out until the money, torn or otherwise, has been given over) and I was asked "anything else?". Clearing my throat I asked "have you any ..... fruit juice, like Schloer or something?". She looked at me, making eye contact for the first time, and just sadly shook her head while saying "naw son, we don't have anything like that here, try Tesco". I paid for my Corona and squeezed past the three nedettes to the outside world and my friends in the car.

The party was great!


  1. I didn't think you were really whining - just gambling with your safety in certain neighborhoods!

    What, there weren't any off licenses open in Possilpark to go risk your life in?

    and I still can't believe that Corona is sold any place other than cheap Mexican beach resort towns. Yeckkkk.

    Do you sing at St Mary's? I need to get back for a visit. Maybe hear Fr Kelvin preach once or twice. Beautiful place. I was confirmed there back in 88!

  2. Dennis, for the assistance of others reading your comment I should probably point out that it's a continuation of comments between us (and others) on Madpriest's Blog over at

    Apologies if that doesn't show as a Hyperlink, it's early'ish in the morning and I'm not fully awake yet!

    I rarely fear for my safety in Glasgow, and certainly didn't while in the off licence the other night. It was the embarrassment that concerned me! That said, clearly there are steps which must me taken to limit the threat to safety when in certain places and surrounded by certain types of people, but that's just common sense and is pretty much done on a subconscious level, by me anyway.

    If you were confirmed in St Mary's in 1988, then I almost certainly sang in the choir at the service since I joined in 1983! The Cathedral is even more beautiful now than it was then, as 1988 would have been during the initial stages of the restoration. You really should come back to see it next time you're over here from Washington.

  3. Have you thought of providing subtitles for American readers?

  4. oh, i've been back since the restoration. really nice. was last in town 3 or 4 yrs ago but didn't make it to a service.

    Did you know Fr John Turner, the Ang. chaplain to the Univ in the late 80s?

  5. Dennis, I did indeed know John. It was a tragic accident in Berlin leading to his untimely death. He was a nice guy.

    Glad you've been back, and glad you liked the place.

    Kelvin, I do occasionally explain idioms (is that the right word?) as I go along, but failed to do so on this occasion. Must do better!

  6. You sang at my confirmation on Whitsunday in 88! wow. I was a clueless American kid with little understanding of the lifestep that I was taking.

    And Bishop Derek Rawcliffe was mumbling in tongues during the confirmation! I swear that this is true because I heard him while he had his hands on my head.

    The Saturday night before our confirmation he had insisted on a meeting with the confirmands (Fr. Malcolm said that he didn't trust St. Mary's to properly prepare us). We gathered in the Lady Chapel where he gave us a strong lecture on avoiding the temptation of Ouija boards and Tarot cards and reading one's horoscope. It was bizarre. Having escaped from American Protestant lunacy I was unsure if I wanted to be a part of such but Fr John and Fr Malcolm explained that Derek was a bit, well, off, as it were. So properly reassured that I was not joining a band of nutters I came back the next morning and was confirmed by a speaking-in-tongues bishop. And his Whitsunday/ Confirmation sermon involved the story of his caring for his sickly wife and something about some island, which was really odd for Pentecost Sunday, to say the least.

    After the service a number of students from the University went back to Fr. John's flat and that was my first time to ever try Champagne, the beginning of a long love affair with the stuff. I don't know which was more important in my life that day: becoming an Episcopalian or discovering Champagne.

  7. I confess Dennis that I don't remember the specific occasion, having sung at lots of them, but I was certainly in the choir at that time (I moved down to Newcastle upon Tyne the following December for a while) so it's pretty certain I did sing at it.

    I can also confirm the complete and utter madness of the late +Derek Alex Rawcliffe, who came leaping out the closet soon after the demise of his wife. I believe. Not that I'm suggesting that's a form of madness, having just re-read my last sentence! Oops!

    Yes, he was certainly a character was Plus Derek. The island he spoke of was doubtless the one in the Pacific of which he'd been bishop prior to coming to Scotland. Can't remember the name, but it'll probably be on the diocesan website somewhere, if indeed they have biographies of previous bishops. Thankfully the bishops of Glasgow and Galloway since then have been pretty sane, and indeed are nice chaps in my (admittedly limited) experience of them. Limited purely because I tend not to socialise all that much with them. They frequent different pubs to me!

    I'm not surprised that Malcolm Grant wasn't trusted by that bishop, given that Malcolm was, and no doubt continues to be, an excellent priest and provost, and was generally a good guy, whereas Derek .......

    Hmmm, champagne and Episcopalianism eh? Perhaps an unholy alliance,some might say!

  8. This is a guid yin Mr Lay Clerk ! An' how guid tae ha'e Dennis an' a' along tae t' party ! How many more of us from that auspicious service in 1988 can we get gatherin' here ? You 'n' me both a' singin' ther' an' a'. And what a fantastic recollection we weave between us !

    Dear Fr John T was a great one for Celebration - and I hae nae doots a' t'all he'll be raisin' a G & T or two an' larfin' his sox orf with us here ! He'd a loved t'internet an' a' this.

    Let us a' know when you're next passin' by this way agen Dennis - an' we can a' get together an' Lay Clerk'll mebbe force hisself (or get forced kickin' n' screamin' as usual) over the threshold of a local hostelry in yo'r hon'or (G n G S are good at facilitatin' such shenanigans !)

  9. Exam Question: "Distinguish between a NED and a NERD. Use examples to illustrate your reply."

  10. Andrew, my definitions are:

    A NERD is someone who has a tightly defined yet in-depth knowledge of a specific small area of expertise, usually but not always of a technological nature, whereas a NED is a useless, thick as pigshit, unemployable, uneducated, budding, or indeed actual, petty criminal who whines instead of speaks, and would run like fuck from you in the street if you stood up to him unless he has his equally wanky mates with him in which case the pack mentality takes over.

    I didn't use examples, but did I pass?

  11. I'd have snapped a quick photo and submitted it to - sounds like a winner!