Somehow or other I found myself wandering aimlessly around Tollcross, a hing oot fae my childhood. It was just the back of New Year and I got to thinking about New Years day with my folks.
Youngsters today have no idea how little Christmas meant back then. Until I was about 10 my Dad worked Christmas Day morning and was back at work on Boxing Day. But New Year! Two full days off. Bevvy time.
It was probably the only day I spent with my parents as a youngster. Probably because there was no-one else to dump me on at that time of year. So I went with them on their grand day of drink. Note: none of the following Aunts and Uncles are real Aunts and Uncles. Just friends of my folks.
First stop on the way was Betty and Jackie Graham who stayed at the foot of Viewforth. Betty Graham had been maid of honour at my parents wedding but they were a bit frosty by the time I mind them. My Mum was like that. She fell oot easy. Anyway, Betty Graham, despite what I said above was just Betty. Probably because I had a real Aunty Betty (my Mums actual lunatic sister) and Aunty Bette (with an E) who was next on the list.
So it was off tae auld Mrs McLuskey. The mother of my Dads best friend who he’d met in the Air Force during the war. That was Uncle Phil who was married to Aunty Bette (with an E). It was his mothers hoose but they’d no bairns so stayed with her. I used to stay there every Thursday and get wired into the potted hough. Uncle Phil was the happiest drunk I ever met. Mind you, he went blind with the drink as an auld man.
Then roond the corner to Thornybauk (which is where I was at the beginning of this). That was Mrs McPartlins. A widow with the “boys”, Eddie and Jimmy. The boys were in their forties and had been in the Merchant Navy since leaving the school. So if they were both home for New Year (as they tried to be) it would be a two week piss up for them and my folks played their part.
Then back doon tae Gorgie and Aunty Evelyn and Uncle Jimmy. He had worked his way up to Master Mariner and had his own command till the drink got him fired. He ended up working as a security guard at the sheriff court. He set fire to himself once and needed a skin graft on his face. Cue my Uncle Phil saying “I ayeways said you talked oot yer arse and now its true”. A bum to face graft, so it was. Evelyn was the youngest of my parents crowd and the only still alive when my Mum died in 2008. Her daughter brought her to the funeral as she too had gone blind. But no with the drink.
Then we’d end up at Aunty Nessie and Uncle Daveys. She’d worked beside my Mum and Bette at Parson Peebles engineering works and he had owned his own building firm. He drank that away so bought a hotel at Ardmillan. He drank that away so bought a butchers at Viewforth. Where the polis done him for sheep rustling. They ended up in a single end next tae St Brides, a far cry from their peak in a Colinton bungalow.
And what brought all this back. Walking round Thornybauk and seeing Mrs McPartlins name still on the door. She’s probably been deid this forty years or so and it gave me a lump in my throat. The one day a year my parents were my parents.