SHORTLY afore she departed tae the big WRI Meeting in the Sky last year, mah maw telt me something aboot her dark past which was a wee bit o’ an eye-opener.
You must realise that this was a very respectable, grey-haired great-granny in her 78th - and, as it turned oot, final - year ah was talking to here as she sipped her 25th cuppa o’ the morning in her wee beloved sunlounge in Carnwath.
“You know, I was still pregnant with you when a police horse knocked me down during an anti-nuclear demonstration. I suppose that explains why you turned out the way you did...”
Funny, ain’t it, that you forget that your folks were wance young men and wummen who made all the mistakes and did all the daft/wild things that folk o’ yon age are prone tae.
For example, there’s me, week in, week oot, sitting oan the press bench at Lanark Sheriff Court, quietly tut-tutting as a respectable citizen as yet anithir wan o’ the current crop o’ youngsters admits tae the dreadfu’ crime o’ possessing an Oxo-cube-sized quantity o’ cannabis resin.
This, of course, is a wee bitty twa-faced o’ me, as onywan knows who still minds the young version o’ this Burgess of the Royal Burgh of Lanark at various wild hooleys back in the bad, mad auld old Seventies.
It also comes as a shock tae realise that you are steadily becoming mair and mair like your folks as the years go by; smert folk in Morningside call it ‘osmosis’.
Mah ain relationship wae mah late faither was o’ the wary variety, him never really forgiving me for no’ getting a honest job and becoming a Lanarkshire engineer like him.
It was only efter he was lang deid that ah reflected he might have had a point there; ah mean, whit will be left behind o’ mah work when ah shortly depart this place? Ah ken fine that, wance you’ve finished reading this, mah golden words and the rest o’ the paper will be recycled intae cat litter or even chip pokes.
Faither, oan the other hand, in his youth helped make steam and diesel engines at the North British Locomotive works in Glescae that are STILL taking Indian and Pakistani folk tae and from their work every day!
Onyway, anither change in mah attitude tae the Auld Man came when ah recently rediscovered some o’ his personal documents.
Wan was a letter frae, of all folk, Her Majesty’s Government of Hong Kong, withdrawing its offer tae faither o’ the post o’ Chief Engineering Training Officer for the then British Empire’s Crown Colony.
They wrote tae him that: “due to your failure to disclose your previous membership of the Young Communist Party of Great Britain, we can no longer consider you a suitable candidate.”
Hello; so that auld reactionary, stuffy Victor Meldrew ah held in such contempt had wance been a rid-hot Bolshie!
Anither document saw him rise even higher in mah estimation, a 1960s copy of an engineering industry magazine in which mah faither was featured as Manager of the Month.
It made fascinating reading and ah’ll share the first few lines wae you;
“‘Mister Harris is a Bampot!’
“These are the words of a spray-painted piece of graffiti on the wall of the Lanarkshire Engineering Training Association at Shawhead in Coatbridge.
“Asked about it, managing director - and target of the abuse by some disgruntled apprentice of his - Ron Harris took a philosophical view.
“Oh well; at least they remembered to call me ‘Mister’ Harris.”
So, the auld fella had a sense o’ humour too, eh?
Maybe ah AM mair like him than I’d like tae admit.