Talking Point, with Ron Harris

Ron Harris'Picture by Lindsay Addison
Ron Harris'Picture by Lindsay Addison

Find out what’s on Gazette chief reporter Ron’s mind this week!

THE cry oft rang oot across the yard of the auld schoolhoose in Carnwath: “Your heid’s fu’ o’ broken bottles and torn-up comics!”

This was no part o’ the language o’ the village as it was a phrase imported there frae her native Shettleston by mah sainted wee granny and usually directed at me for nicking her jam goosegogs oot the garden or at mah faither and/or uncle, staggering hame after too mony hours spent in The Wee Bush.

She had mony other charming wee turns o’ Gleswegian phraseology the White Craws (native Carnwathians) got used tae during her mony decades running their wee shop while her man ran their wee school.

Oor two playfu’ black spaniels were mony a time instructed tae “Go and play in front o’ a tram” when annoying her and tae “Go tae your beds and die” when they REALLY got under her feet.

This week ah found yon now long-stilled voice o’ mah childhood suddenly recalled by the news that the Dandy might soon become if not a torn-up comic then a washed-up wan.

You’ll please excuse the orgy o’ nostalgia that’s aboot tae follow noo but ah’m writing this in the midst o’ a storm o’ IT mince and ah sorely need the therapy.

It’s hard tae explain the sheer joy o’ Fifties and Sixties Scottish comics tae younger folk; as they say, you really had to be there.

Incredible though it may seem, although we did buy the odd, grossly over-priced (a shilling a throw!) Superman and Batman adventures, you never really thought o’ them as ‘comics’ proper.

The Scottish variety, though, was cheap, very cheerfu’ and you could quickly suss oot the whole future life o’ a wean in the playgroond by the comic they were reading.

The wans still buying the infant Bimbo by the time they got tae school were obviously numpties wae a life o’ navvying ahead; the Beano and Dandy fans were prone tae follow the pack and would go oan tae jobs in local government or a bank; those wae a superior streak, destined for management and Rotary, were seen trying tae impress perusing the mighty broadsheets Topper and Beezer while the wans wae a violent streak and heided for life in the Services or the jail revelled in the wartime gore o’ the Hotspur or the Valient.

If there were ony posh weans in the school, they stood aloof wae their copy o’ The Eagle while the teachers o’ the future tackled The Wizard, sneeringly dismissed by us middlebrow types as being, “a’ writing and nae pictures”.

Of course it was only the next generation o’ nuclear scientists who were ever, ever seen wae the Look and Learn in their paws!

Ah reckon the rot started aboot 1966 when a flashy, new glossy publication, based oan telly sci-fi like Thunderbirds and Stingray, cried TV21 started tae appear in the haunds o’ the creepier, geekier weans.

Ah now realise, too late, that they were tae become the first generation o’ computer programmers and IT managers.

Ah wish noo we’d all ganged up oan them in the playgroond and given them a right good doing. (Here, here!)

And you’re deid right; ah DID read the Hotspur and Valient.