Union Canal Blues. My old childhood playground. I went for a 5 mile daunder there this week and even though most of it has been wiped out in a manner the Luftwaffe would have been proud of, there were still a few familiar scenes. The breweries, distillery, rubber mill, chemical works and sweetie factory may be long gone but my childhood homes are still standing. As is the first flat Mrs H and I ever shared.
Image number 1) – the second story flat with the new windows is where I lived aged 4 and aged 9. Image number 2) – which looks awfy like the first one is where I lived between 4 and 9 on the top floor. The reason they look similar is because they’re actually next door to each other. I lived with my Mum & Dad in No 11 and then with my Great Auntie Famie and Great Uncle George in No 17 for 5 years.
3) This is the boozer where my Dad used to drink. There used to be a phone box outside and that’s where I’d sit with my Cresta orange juice and bag of crisps while I waited for him to head home. The boarded up shop next to it used to be the Boys Brigade Table Tennis Club where I honed my wicked skillz, later to bedazzle Mrs H in the Lake District. And almost cause an early divorce. 4) The second picture shows the house we moved to when I was 10. Which was actually on the same block as the ones above. Adventurous folk, my parents. That’s where we were staying when my Dad died. And no the shitty pink stars are later arrivals.
All these flats were within sniffing distance of the canal which was not the fun filled, leisure destination it tries to pretend it is today. 5) The next picture is the bridge where we used to fling stones, bricks and bits of metal chored fae Asa Wass’ scrappie at the rats come twilight. They lived in the tenements in Watson Crescent but as the sun went down they would emerge en-masse and swim across the canal to the bakers on the other bank and get into the basement for some scran. 6) The canal was also where we used to go winter duck hunting using the same tools. Sharkeys Dad used to pay us 10 bob a pop, so we’d lift a sack fae the coal merchants in Temple Park and head along to where the ducks lived (and died). This would have been a good day as the ice slowed them down (hah!)
7) This area has avoided the despoiling of Dundee Street but I was surprised to see that my old Tay Street Primary School has been replaced with this monstrosity. And not even a blue plaque to commemorate me. 8) The next picture is the horror that was North Merchy Boys Club. It needed thunder, lightning and hailstones to force us in there in the school holidays. It’s still there although they’ve dropped the “Boys” from the title. I’m sure it’s all mung beans and safe spaces now rather than an embittered ex jannie hitting you with a pool cue for being boisterous. #joysofchildhood.
9) Fast forward to when Mrs H and I were winching and this is where I was lodging at the time with a deranged Satanist. Bear in mind, Mrs H had a teenage son living with her at the time so I’m sure I don’t need to give you any more details as to why this nearby bridge was a happy place for us.
11) A quick step back in time and this shop was where I spent three years as an apprentice butcher aged 13-16. Like everything else it’s some kind of arty farty coffee shop now and I dread to think how much whitewash was needed in the basement where I used to make the sausages and pies. 12) The polis box is where PC Mac used to live, all 6 foot 7 inches of him. He used to bend double to get through the door for his cuppa after kicking seven shades of shite out of us. Incidentally, the car park next to it used to belong to Austin House, a private club where my Mum & Dad would go on a Sunday night for a sing song. And a bucket of alcohol. PC Mac would work on a Sunday night and let the drunks stagger to their cars and wait till they banged into the wall on the way out before booking them. Proper policing.
They’ve tried to gentrify it and I suppose the lack of chemicals, shopping trollies, petrol whirlpools and assorted dead animals is a good thing. A shame it’s been replaced by deranged cyclists speeding along a narrow towpath without a thought for tired, auld eejits like me who’re blind in one eyes, deaf in one ear and who wouldn’t move even if I could see and hear the fuckers coming. #happydays