It all depends on what you believe. In Glesca, that can be something very strange indeed!
This time, we are going to do P, Q, & R
As for the Glesca Marathon ...
... to finish, you've got to be a believer!


It's a dreich day, the day, ah'll tell ye. Lookin oot the windae, the clouds urr scrapin aff the chimneys, the rain's drizzlin doon an it'd chill ye tae the bone. Even the seagulls urr werrin wellies.
The lassie oan the Sky Weather Channel his jist said ...
"...and in northwest Scotland it will be grey with scattered showers."
Naw hen! It's dreich, that's whit it is. DREICH!

Glesca Superstitions

'Never cut yer toenails oan a Sunday!' mah Mammy used tae say that wae the utmaist conviction. Wher this gem came fae ah've nae idea. Furr a while a thoat it wis a religious thing, some little known edict fae Leviticus. But naw, it turned oot that it wis because 'It'll bring ye bad luck!'

As a wean that set meh thinkin [see, even then, I was guilty eh that]. Here ah wis, in a singel en' tenement slum, the worst in Europe bae aw accoonts, a chemical smog hingin ower the street fae the nearby chemical, steel, copper and engineerin works. TB, polio, smallpox an scarlet fever wirr rampant an considered killers; ah hid tae watch wher a pit mah hauns an feet in the hoose in case a goat caught in the moosetraps; nearby buildins wirr fawin doon bae thimsells as the risin damp converged wae the descendin dry rot! The bigger picture wisnae that great either, the gossip amang the grown ups bein aw aboot the cauld war and the threat of nuclear annihilation...!

An ah wisnae allowed tae cut mah toenails oan a Sunday cos it wid bring meh bad luck!!!

Whin ye think aboot it, ther wis a loat a that kinna hing. Apart fae no walkin unner a ladder, brekkin mirrors an aw the usual stuff, ther wir other taboos an rituals lik... includin a small coin in the wrappin eh a gift if the pressie wis sharp. The theory wis that includin the coin avoided the friendship being severed by the sharp object! Ah'd ah thoat an elastaplast urr at least a ten boab note wid hiv bin a better idea. So, if ye goat a penknife furr yer burthday, a threepenny bit wid be stuck tae it so ye widnae faw oot wae yer Mammy! No thit mah mammy ever trustit me wae a penknife ye unnerstaun!

Coins seemed tae figure high in Glesca superstition. Dis anybiddy remember new boarn weans getting presented wae... ah furget whit it wis cawed, wis it a 'christenin piece?'... two buttered tea biscuits wae a coin sandwiched in between. Whit wis that aw that aboot?

If sumbdy goat a new purse, wallet urr handbag, a coin wid be inside tae ensure 'ye wir never withoot money!' That yin never worked furr me ah kin tell ye!

'Green furr Grief!' wis a common phrase used bae mah Mammy an Gran. Ah don't remember ever hivin any claithin thit wis green. Ah continued tae believe this furr years. Ah avoidit green claithes lik the plague, expectin tae bae struck bae lightnin urr some terrible disease if a pit oan a perra green soaks!

Back tae coins again. Dae any eh ye remember a sixpence bein pit in the burthday cake? Ah wunner how minny weans choked oan thir burthday cakes when they inhaled the wee sixpenny bit! Probably jist the wans werrin the green buthday jumpers ah'd imagin!!

An when sumdy died, white sheets wid be pit up at the windae. Wis this supposed tae prevent evil spirits getting in urr sumhin? Ah never quite unnerstood that wan either. Ah think it might hiv been a throwback tae Irish customs an roots.

Mah Granny Yuill [remember her?] used tae dae sumhin wae tea leaves. Ah cannae remember the rhyme she wid say or the reason, but ah wid haud mah haun oot, palm facin doon, an she wid sprinkle dry tea leaves oan the back eh mah haun (this was in the days affore teabags). She wid say a wee ryhme an then rub the tea leaves against the skin. Lik ah say, memory fails oan the purpose eh this bit ah know she used tae dae it evry time ah'd visit. Ah wis quite disappointit when she stoaped [I was 21 by that time!]

'Ne'er cast a cloot tae May's oot!' That wis a springtime favourite. Noo, it's a fact thit, in Scoatlind the month of May (an sometimes even late April) tends tae gie ye some good weather. In fact, some years, it's the only good weather ye get! So furr a week urr so the sun shines an it kin get very nice, even hoat! BUT, as soon as ye ditched the duffle coat, scarf, pullover an wellies an rummaged aboot the drawer furr the teashirt an sannies (sandshoes), yer mammy wis oan ye lik a shoat - 'Ne'er cast a cloot tae May's oot!' she'd say, finger pointin in the err. An oan went aw the winter claithes again. Ye'd end up staunin in the school playgrun sweatin buckets an hopin it wid rain an cool ye doon. When ye questioned the logic eh this gem of parental wisdom ye goat a long tale of how unspeakable diseases wid strike ye doon if ye removed warm claithin affore the end a May! Of course, years later ah learned that the rhyme disnae relate tae the month of May at aw, but tae the May Flower! Noo ah don't know when the Mayfloo-er opens it's petals, ah don't even know whit it looks like when it dis. Wan hing ah ahm sure eh, thir wisnae ony growin through the tarmac an cement a Glesca. Thers even a good chance it disnae even exist north a Carlisle! So whit chance did we hiv? When ah think eh it - aw they years, dressed furr the Arctic an sufferin heat exhaustion...

Anybiddy goat any merr Glesca (urr Scottish) superstitions?


The Patter : Away fer a P

officially off sick from work
"Ah'm oan eh panel." "I'm signed off sick from work."
Means yiv bin tae the doactir, goat yir sick line (panel line) an proudly presentit it tae yir boss as proof thit ye really urr at death's door an cannae work.

pan loaf
a posh accent

"Jist pap that ower here." "Just throw that over here."
"Eh wis causin trouble, so ah papped im oot." "He was causing trouble, so I threw him out."


on the dole, receiving government aid
Ye don't hear this term noo.
"Aye, ah loast mah joab last week so ah've signed oan the parish." "I lost my job last week, so I have signed on at the Unemployment Office."
Must be a throwback tae the days of parish subsistence.

It's the way we say it!

peely wally
pale, sick looking
"Yer lookin awfae peely wally hen. Ye want tae get doon tae the doactir and get a panel line." "You are looking terribly pale, my dear. You should get the doctor to sign you a sick note."

turn down or put someone in their place
"Eh tried tae tell meh thit he wis the boss cos he wis the wan thit went oot tae work an broat in the wages." "He tried to tell me that he was the master of the household because he went out to work and brought in the wages."
"Diddeh? An whit did ye tell im? Ye didnae let im aff wae that diddye?" "Oh, did he? And what did you tell him? You did not let him off with that nonsense, surely?"
"No bliddy likely! Ah jist pointit tae the three weans needin fed, washed an chinged, the stack a dishes tae be washed, the big list a messages thit hid tae be broat in, the windaes thit needit washin, the flerr that needit swept, the sterrs thit needit cleaned, the dinner thit wis still tae be cooked ... That pit eez gess oan a peep!" "Not bloody likely! A just pointed out, the three children needing fed, washed and changed, the stack of dishes needing washing, the floor needing swept, the stairs needing cleaned, the dinner that was yet to be cooked ... That shut him up!"

One of countless variations on hopscotch
An auld gemme the lassies used tae play. They'd draw squers oan the pavement urr playgrun an write numbers in thim. Then they'd skite a can alang the grun intae the squers. Then they'd dae this ridiculous hoppin thing ower the squers while chantin some unintelligable rhyme. Funny things lassies!

hide something
"Ah cannae find it. Eh must've planked it." "I cannot find it. He must have hidden it."

sandwiches for schoolplaytime

the dreaded adolescent spot
someone you dislike
"See that wee plook, ah cannae staun im!" "Observe that insignificant little nobody. I cannot tolerate him!"

"Eh goat fired fae eez joab efftir they caught im pochlin fae the till." "He was fired from his job, after they caught him stealing from the cash-register."

a small paper bag

Glesca's finest. Upholders of the law. Issuers of speedin tickets, harrassers of innocent drunks. Sources of direction tae the loast. Home tae wee gnomes (that's why ye always see them talkin tae the inside eh thir jaikits!)


to break wind from the rear
Hiv tae be kerful wae this wan. To pump is to pass 'flatus'. Naw, no deflate! Jist tae pass 'flatus'.

pound (weight)
"A pun ah mince." "A pound of mince."

puntie up
give someone a lift up
"Ah need tae get up oan tap eh the wa tae see whits goin oan. Gie meh a puntie up wid ye!" "I need to get up on top, in order to observe what is going on. Give me a lift up, would you!"

Right! Let's get tae the really tough bit ...


The Glesca Marathon 1984

Ah wis sittin last Sunday watchin the London marathon oan the telly an stertit reminiscin eh the Glesca Marathon of '84. Whit a kerry oan! Ah've still goat mah medal an stuff up in the attic somewherr.

Ah thae wir the days! Thinkin back, ah should really hiv entered in the disabled category. Years a cross country cyclin in the 70s, ower Ayshire an Galloway hills hid taken thir toll oan mah knees. Ah used tae foally the aff road routes of Davie Bell an eez cronies [any eh you Ayrshire folk ever heard eh Davie? Eh used tae write as the 'Highwayman' in the Ayrshire Post many years ago]. This wis aw before 'mountain bikin' became popular. Anyway, ah hid takin it intae mah heid tae tackle the Glesca marathon, mibby even aim furr the London the followin year. Ah hid built masell up the year afore, runnin a few half marathons (13 miles). The wife an kids wirr constantly narkin aboot the smell a liniment in the hoose. Right enough, the hoose reeked eh the stuff. This wis the regime; warm up, liniment rubbed oan eh knees, trainin run, back tae the hoose, hoat compresses oan the knees, merr linament, hobble aboot furr 48 oors then sert ower again.[Except furr the time ah went ower oan mah ankle oan a kerb an endit up in a 'stookie' furr 8 weeks. Everybiddy loved it, an 8 week respite fae the smell ah liniment.] Eventually ah considered massell ready furr the big day. They say ye should be able tae run 17-18 miles comfortably before ye consider the big two six. A fortnight affore the marathon ah managed tae get up tae 17 an wis in agony. But ah convinced massell thit ah hid met the criteria an announced tae evrybiddy thit ah wis gonnae dae it.
Whit ah numptie!
A sent aff furr the fishull gear, teashirt an shorts wae the marathon logo printit oan thim [they must be up in the attic as well] an tried them oan. Ah felt lik Sebastion Coe. [probbly looked merr lik Danny Devitto, bit imagination's a wunnerfull hing]

The moarnin eh the Marathon wis hellish! Glesca Green wis lik the Somme. Torrential rain an bitin wind. An the mud! Oh the mud. Folk hid tied kerrier bags aroon thir feet tae try an keep the mud oot. Ye squelched evrywher. The smell a liniment in the big chingin tent made yir eyes water - but ah felt right at hame wae that.

We made oor wae oot the Green an gethirt in the Saltmerket, jist doon fae Glesca Croass, jinin up wae the masses waitin furr the aff. Ther wirr thoosans eh iz. Fae aw walks a life as they say. Maist folk wir done up wae black bin bags as protection against the wind an rain. It wis freezin as we aw rubbed shooders wae each ither, laughin an jokin wae perfect strangers fae aw ower the country, an ither countries as well, as wae tried tae keep wurr spirits up. We musta looked lik them masses a penguins ye see oan films eh the Antartic. The Glesca Patter wis flowin that moarnin ah kin tell ye! 'Aw Jimmy is this eh right road furr Ebbirdeen?' 'Heh ahm ah in the right queue furr the Elton John coancirt?' 'Let me tell ye this boay, this is eh worst organised orange walk ah've ever bin oan!' They jist kept cummin. Folk wirr dressed up as chickens, berrs an things beyon description. Some wirr pushin prams wae folk in thim. Some wirr bailin oot the prams as thae filt up wae rainwatter. Ah couldnae help glancin ower at the red brick buildin oan mah left, the CPM (City Police Mortuary), an wundrin if that wis wher ah wid end up.

At last wae wurr aff, slow at first, walkin trottin, as the huge mass eh people made thir wae up the High Street. A seethin mass a Glesca humanity. The atmosphere wis fantastic. Evrybiddy wavin an cheerin. Wae hardly noticed the gradient as we 'flowed' through Glesca Croass, roon the steeple (wher they used tae hing people in the auld days) an climbed up High Street towards the Catherdral. Gradually we began tae warm up an the plastic bin liners wirr cast aside. Hunners eh these black bags wirr flyin aw ower the place wae the wind.

The furst few miles wurr great. The excitement an exhilaration, folk cheerin. "Yiz urr gaun the wrang wae!" some wit oan the pavement shouted. Up Castle Street, through Toonheid, this wis the area my ancestors aw came fae an whit ah wis broat up in, bit ah didnae appreciate that at the time. Ah wunner whit they wid hiv made eh aw this? Past the Cathedral, left at the Royal Infirmary an we wirr makin wirr wae doon intae the city. Through the city we went, up the steady climb alang Bath Street towards the west end. Great Western Road took us oot towards Annisland Croass, through the Asian community, past Byres Road and Redlands Hospital [converted tae the ambulance service training centre, and my place of work at the time]. Gartnaval Royal soon passed oan the left and, at Anniesland we stertit doon towards Scotstoun an whit wis wance the great shippin an shipbuildin region eh the Clyde. A wee guy oan the pavement shoutit "Yer gaun the wrang wae, pal!" Glesca folk sometimes lack originality! We wir oan the Clydeside noo an headin back intae the city. Things wirr gaun fine an, lookin at the stoapwatch, ah wis daen good time. Alang through the Broomielaw wher sah minny folk arrived in Glesca fae Ireland, mine included, an we swung right ower the bridge an intae the 'soo'side'. Bae this time wae wirr gettin a bit spaced oot (ah mean that in the distance sense!) Ah loat a folk hid takin tae walkin furr stretches. Some hid decidit thit this wis a dawdle an wirr gaun lik the clappers an overtakin evrybiddy. Ah began tae feel the knees gaun jist before Pollock Park. Ah'm gled tae say ah wisnae the only wan. Merr an merr wirr walkin noo an some seemed tae hiv geid up aw thigither. We knew the leaders hid already finished bae this time, collectit thir medals an wir either at hame watchin us numpties oan the telly urr in the pub regailin evrybiddy eh thir achievement. Bit, furr the rest, oor adventure wis jist beginin. Pollock park wis aboot the 19/20 mile mark if a mine correctly. Hoff wae through the park, ma knees sterted wavin white flags an sent a message tae mah brain tae STOAP! Bit mah brain wisnae listenin. It hid gied up listenin when ah sent the application form aff! Ah began tae trott, hobble walk fae furst aid post tae furst aid post. Each time, linament wid be rubbed oan mah knees an legs an ah'd be advised tae pack it in. No me! It wisnae because a wis brave urr anyhing lik that, it wis the thoat a evribiddy laughin an sayin 'a told ye so' when a goat hame. So ah pushed oan. An eejit at the exit gate fae the park shoutit 'Yer gaun the wrang wae mate!' Ah wis aboot tae gie im the malkie when ah realised eh wis right! Noo. it wisnae a case a whit time ah wid dae it in, urr even whit day! It wis purely determination tae finish. The nixt couple of oors wir a nightmare. An lik aw nightmares its hard tae remember the details noo. A remember bein cauld. Ah remember the kindness eh the Glesca people. Ah remember a wean runnin furrit an gein meh a bar a choaclit. That wean will never know how much that helped. Ah remember strugglin doon the side eh the Clyde Embankment, ower the cobblestones. It wis agony! An ah remember the finish. Oh how ah remember the finish!

We entered Glesca green an hobbled, limped, trotted alang towards the coarner in the distance thit turned doon towards the finish line. We couldnae see the finish at this point. Thir wirr aboot five eh us who'd been strugglin oan igither, an wae wirr aw in a sorry state, . As we turned the coarner we saw in the distance (aboot 300 yerds away) the Finish. The big digital cloack showed the time 04:58. As we looked, it changed tae 04:59. We hid wan minute tae come in within the five oor merk. Three eh us sterted runnin, pulled away fae the ither two. Suddenly the pain in mah knees disappeared! An ah wisnae jist joggin, ah wis actually sprintin! Wan guy pulled out in front an ah stied wae im. Aw three eh us wirr focused oan that big cloak in front eh us. We croassed the line affore the numbers chinged, 04:59. No a good time, bit ah felt lik ah hid won! The medal wis slung roon mah neck, a thermal blanket wis wrapped roon meh an then ah realised ah couldnae move - mah feet hid sunk in the mud an ah couldnae lift thim oot! Mah knees hid seized up completely and folk hid tae help lift meh oot the ooze. A couple a stewards then hid tae dig doon an scoop oot mah trainers.

So, as ah sat last week an watched the London marathon oan a wet dreich day I say tae aw you runners whitevir yer time - RESPECT!

Eftir thay, whit's sae hard about a couple o letters in eh alphabet?


The Patter : Staunin inna Q wi R

odd person
Not in a 'gay' context
"Ah met Aggie's new boayfriend last night. Eez a bit eh a queerie that wan is eh no?" "I met Agnes' new boyfriend last night. He appears to be a trifle eccentric."
"How dae ye mean?" "In what way?"
"Well eh kept talkin aboot aliens an conspirancy theories innat." "He insisted on talking about aliens and conspiracy theories and such like."
"Sounds lik eez jist the wan furr Aggie then!" "He sounds like the ideal partner for Agnes!"

To be 'quoted' is to be in the running or well positioned for something.
"Jimmy's gaun furr that joab the morra." "James is applying for that job vacancy tomorrow."
"Izzy? Dae ye hink eh'll gerrit?" "Is he? Do you think that he will be successful?"
"Eh seems tae hink eez well quotit." "He believes that he will."
"Whit kinna joab issit?" "What kind of job is it?"
"Deck haun oan a submarine!" "Deck-hand on a submarine!"


"Urr ye gaun eh ra coancirt ra night?" "Are you going to the concert tonight?"
In reality the sound 'eh' is more common.

temper, loss of
"Whin eh fun oot whit hid happent eh jist loast eh rag!" "When he discovered what had happened, he lost his temper!"

fight, riot or debacle
"Sumdy pochled the winnins eh the sweepstake in eh pub. Enditt up wae a right rammy." "Someone stole the sweepstake winnings from the pub. That started a riot!"

good or scarce
"See that choaclit cake, it wis rerr." "That chocolate cake was excellent."
"An ye left a bit furr us, that's even rerrir!" "You left a piece for us. How very unusual!"


alcoholic drink
Usually used in the context of funerals and sombre occasions.
"Wid ye like a wee refreshment?" "Would you like a glass of spirits?"
This expression used tae puzzle me as a kid (still does tae some extent). Ah could never quite make the connection between booze and "refreshment" "glass of 70 proof alcoholic drink". It wis maist commonly heard at the getherin eftir a funeral. As aw the aunties, uncles, friends an hingers oan wir millin aboot trying no tae pick fights wae each ither, sumdy wid come up an ask, in the maist patronisin voice ...
"Wid ye kerr furr a wee refreshment?" "Would you like a small glass of spirits?"
To whit the answer wis invariably ...
"Aye! Jist a wee wan!" "Yes please. Just a small one."
A drinkin frenzy wid then ensue, in which aw the auld rivalries an grudges wid be aired, and endin up in a rammy. Then evrybiddy wid stagger aff sayin whit a lovely service it hid been. As a youngster I came tae equate "refreshment" "drinking spirits" wae lyin flat oan the flerr singin "Take meh hame again Kathleen!" "Take me home again, Kathleen (or any maudling ballad)"

get rid of
a red face

"See that dug! If it disnae stoap peein oan eh flerr yer gonae hiv tae get riddy eh it!" "If that dog does not become house-trained, then it will have to go!"
"When urr knicker elastic snapped, urr knickers fell tae urr ankles. Ye want tae hiv seen the big riddy she hid." When her knicker-elastic broke, her underwear fell around her ankles. Oh what an embarassed look appeared on her face!"

sarcastic form of OK
"Aye right!" "That seems somewhat unlikely!"

"Aw mah heid's nippin. Ah hid too much drink at that funeral yisterday. That's it, ah'm gein up the booze. Ah'm never gonnae drink again!" "I have a terrible headache. I drank too much at yesterday's funeral. That is it! I am giving up the consumption of alcohol. I shall never drink again!"
"Aye right!" "Please excuse my utter disbelief!"

room n' kitchen
A two roomed tenement flat comprising of a bedroom and a kitchen come living room
[When reading a census of a Glasgow tenement flat, the column that records windows gives an indication of whether the flat was one or other ie. Single Room (single en') only had one window. A R & K two.]

Okay that's it furr this week. Noo, nixt week ah'm takin a wee brek fae the Patter.. Ah'm pullin eighteen month's worth of this family research lark igither an daein a wee slide presentation tae the immediate faimly nixt Seturday night. Gonnae try an educate thim aboot thir ancestors innat. An we'll nae doot bae partakin eh a wee refreshment while wirr at it! Meanwhile, in mah absence, ah'm sure mah pal Dave Sloan will keep ye suitably entertained an enlightened. So if any eh yiz urr in the vicinty eh the Hawes Inn at South Queensferry (right under the Forth Bridge) nixt Setturday night ye might catch a glimpse eh auld Moonwatcher bayin at the moon. Cheers First posted on SPDG 9 May 2004

Top of the Page

Original postings on Scotlands People Discussion Group © 2003, 2004 Bob Wilson
Layout, editing and additional material © Dave Sloan 2005, 2012, 2016
'tachras' and 'Winding Yarn' © Dave Sloan 2005, 2012, 2016

tachras Home Page
Talk to tachras
Translate into English
Darwin's Mouse
The Annexe