Sunday, 15 July 2012

Ant Music

Hey Bloggers,

Don't know if Facebook has officially killed the blog yet, but we High Wall lads certainly havnae been so active o' late. Time to change aw that.

I will kick off wi' this wee tale. Did a bit o' gardenin' the day. I was workin' the hoe aboot a wee rockery when I saw a right fair dose o' ants goin' radge. I eventually lifted up a wee flat slab and saw the entrance to a whoor o' an ant colony. Not only was this the entrance, but also a full on nursery, rammed fu o' eggs of various sizes, wi loads o' tunnels leading of in aw directions. Ants were everywhere, runnin' aboot like mad things.

I found some auld school ant powder in the shed and set tae work. Little did my Formicidae friends know that I was a scholar of the "Alien" trilogy as well as being well versed in the documentaries o' Mr Attenborough. Add in the fact that I had a penchant for killin' beasties dating back tae ma High Wall childhood wi Arkos, and the outlook for Mr Ant wisnae guid.

I gave the eggs a right guid blast o' powder and the ants immediately reacted by takin' the eggs tae "safety" doon intae the bowels o' the nest. A fatal mistake.

Half an hour later and there is nae ant activity. Job done..

Everything I know about gardening, I learned from Lt Ellen Ripley, the Colonial Marines and the beasties of the High Wall.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Every Dug has its day

A load o' stuff has happened since we last posted including the passing o' ma dug Buddy (above), Arkos' dug Bridie and ma auld cat Murph. No a great year for the pets, though the vets made oot like bandits as usual.

Anyway tomorrow I am off to the biggest sporting event for Auld Reekie in living memory, namely the 2012 Scottish Cup Final between Edinburgh rivals Hearts and Hibs. It is the first final beween the teams since 1896, a shocking statistic for our proud city when you think about it.  

Now Bobrob and Arkos arnae fitba men, and maself, well I'm no too bothered aboot the game much these days, but I was always a Hibby and I find the whole thing about the fact that we havnae won the Scottish Cup in 110 years fascinating. I have seen great Hibs teams in my lifetime in the 70's and briefly in the early 2000's. The post war team o' my fathers generation were a different prospect all the gither. They were proper world beaters. But alas none of them could win the Scottish Cup, leagues yes, league cups yes, but no the Cup.

Tomorrow a Hibs team comprising of loan players and average journeymen will step onto Hampden, 90 minutes away from "Legends of Leith" status. If they do it then the irony will not be lost on me, but fuck it  I will party like a motherfucker anyway.

My Faither is a lifelong Jambo and the nice thing aboot Edinburgh is that fitba rivalry is in the family, in the generations ect. Not ingrained hatred, just a love o' yer chosen team. When I phoned my dad tonight to say that  if we win I might need a bed for the weekend celebrations, he said "I was thinking if you lot have had  the patience to wait 110 years for the Cup, then surely you won't mind waiting a wee bit longer"

Once a Jambo, always a Jambo...

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Halloween and visits to Strachans the joke shop

It's that time of the year again! Halloween! A big favourite with the lads from the High Wall. I don't think we ever missed it out as kids. It was probably oor favorite night of the year. Better than Xmas?.......Maybe.

I saw an article in the paper the other week that set my mind off at a particular tangent. The article was about an ape called Charlie that had died on an animal sanctuary somewhere. An ape? Halloween? Bear with me.

This ape, Charlie was a bit of an oddity. Seemingly he had been smoking cigarettes for most of his life. He had picked up a fag-end at one point, taken a fews puffs & he was off. He smoked solidly for years, getting ciggies from folk who visited the sanctuary.

Well poor Charlie went and died. Not a premature death I hasten to add. The old boy lived until he was 54, which is seemingly about ten years longer than most apes live to. So the fags had done him nae harm at all. So from this "smoking monkey" my mind turned to the other kind of smoking monkey, the kind you used to be able to buy in Strachans Joke Shop in Edinburgh. And Strachans & Halloween go together like Morcambe & Wise.

Strachans was situated in Forrest Road, near to where the Royal Scottish Museum is. In fact the whole new section of the museum, is built in part, on the place where Strachans once stood. The whole area is completely different to how it looked when we were bairns. Up from Strachans was the Hole In The Wall Pub, named after the goings-on of Burke & Hare. There was also a jewellers shop there called Abbots of Greyfriars, and I think there were a few other shps including a wee bakers shop. There was also a pend there, which took you into a cobbled courtyard leading to the side door of the museum. A lot of tramps & winos used to hang aboot there heating themselves at wee fires. There is still a wee shop there selling pots and pans, crockery, and other kitchen stuff that was there back in the day, which is still there, just across from where Strachans once stood.

Strachans was a braw shop. Full of amazing stuff, most of it at pocket money prices. You could get shrunken heads, monster masks, coffin money boxes, false cigarettes that you blew clouds of talcum powder oot of, itching powder, false plooks & scars, wigs, false hands, skeletons, packets of chewing gum that contained a mini mouse trap that nipped yer fingers when you removed a stick of gum, squirting flowers, exploding fountain pens, stink bombs, fancy dress costumes, Dracula fangs, and a whole rake of other stuff.

And it also sold smoking monkeys. Yeah, I told you there was a link coming up! Us High Wall lads often bought oorselves a smoking monkey. They were braw! The monkey used to come wi aboot five or so little cigarettes. You would stick one in the wee monkey's open mooth & light it. Once ye'd done this a wee smoke ring would be emitted wi a hiss from the end o the cigarette. Trouble was when ye had finished the wee ciggies, ye were left wi a wee plastic money wi a look on its face like it had been goosed & it was nae use to anyone. Ye couldnae buy the wee ciggies separately. Pity. There ur probably hooses all over the place wi one o these stupid wee plastic monkeys, sitting in attics gathering dust, in cupboards, just waiting for someone tae come along wi one o yon we evil-smelling cigarettes and get them blowing smoke rings again!

Anyway aw um saying is that tonight's Halloween and we're getting the hoose o done up wi Halloween stuff, just waiting fir the guisers to pop along. And as I do this I am thinking about Halloweens o the past, and remembering a wee shop in Edinburgh called Strachans, that was the place to go and get some masks and stuff to scare auld drunks as they emerged fi pubs in South Clerk Street.

Happy Halloween my fellow High Wallers & other blog readers! Hae a guid yin!



Wednesday, 25 August 2010


Money was always tight for us boys back in the High Wall days. Returnin' Globe boatils was always one source of income. Another guid yin was wedding "Pour-oots". Now ah think the official name of this practice is a "Scramble" but tae us they were, and will always be "Poor-oots".

There were a guid few churches aroond the High Wall and on a Saturday we would ayeways have a wee traipse aboot to see where the marrying wis happening. There was Salisbury Church, a wee yin in Upper Gray Street, Mayfield Church and one in Sciennes Road which has since been knocked doon. There was also a synagogue at Salisbury, but this was the 70's and so our parents had telt us we were "waistin' oor time expectin' a poor-oots fae jews". Occassionally we could go doon tae Prestonfield cos we knew a few bairns doon there, but any further and you ran the risk o' a doin' fir encroachin' on someone elses income. Fair do's, we felt the same if they came tae oor churches.

So the Happy couple would emerge and git their photaes taken and aw that. We wir jist shufflin' aboot like a pack o' hungry wild dugs. There could be up tae 20 or 30 bairns hingin' aboot. Once they were ready for the big exit we would barge towards the big car shoutin "poor-oot". Well the boy would have nae choice but tae sling a load o' smash oor way. If he didnae 20 or 30 bairns would loudly imply that he was perhaps of a faith more suited to a wedding at the synagogue, or words to that effect. Nae one wants that legacy especially wi aw the new in-laws present and a Best Man's speech comin' up in a few hours.

Then we were off, scrabblin' aboot the road like a fumble in the last minute of the Superbowl. Elbows flailin', standin' on boys hands as they tried tae pick up the coins, skinnin' yer knees. It was a most undignified sight, especially at Mayfield which was on a bus route wi a stop right ootside.

Me, Arkos and Bobrob would work as a team and loot was split evenly, we would use blocking tactics or kick coins towards a designated collector. We made oot like bandits.

Aye it was worth a burst lip and a skint knee just tae get money fir cola cubes and a boatil o American Cream Soda

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Aint that a kick in the head.

One of the hazards o' being a 70's High Wall bairns was the the amount o' gangs runnin' aboot the toon. Now I know there was a wee "casual" scene back in the 90's but that was a bit mair sophisticated and confined tae the fitba and clubs.
In oor day a guid kickin' was literally just roond the corner. Purely territorial.

Aye ye strayed too far fae the High Wall and you were in someone elses territory. YNT, YIC, YGT, YSSR, YLT, BAR- OX, TCR, MBB, YPR, YMD, YPD...ect Man ye needed a map and a compass.

Mostly it was just a case o' being chased and ye had tae be quick on yer feet. Naebody really got any serious doin's and if ye ran fae a pack o' radges, everyone was happy if ye got away. The radges defended their bit and saw ye off. You, in turn, got away intact. A classic Win-Win situation. Now I was like a skinny white version o' Usian Bolt in those days, but even then I knew they boys slowed up when they were chasin' ye, cos the point had been made.

There were a few right bams though, boys in full-on Clockwork Orange gear, nutters in crombies wi walkin' sticks and sharpened steel combs. Ye tended tae gie them a wide bearth. They tended tae stick tae alleys and places rife fer ambush.

There were aw the books by Richard Allen which we loved,. Full o' violence wi' a bit o' shaggin' thrown in. They got traded aboot the school like Futures Derivatives. Added tae that ye had Mr Kubrick glammin' up the auld ultra-violence wi Clockwork Orange. Nane o' this really helped the situation.

Aye it wis an interesting time tae be a young laddie. It taught us how tae read situations and how tae cover 400 yards in aboot a minute withoot breathin or lookin' back.

Friday, 23 July 2010

A shaggy dog story.

Ah dinnie ken if this wiz a game fae the day or a High wall tortue ritual! In Curlies gaerdin thir wiz once a big fuckin bloodhound dug. Ah cannie say whae owned um bit eh wiz aye up fir shaggin!
Eh used tae hot fit it roond the gaerdin lookin fur somethin tae rub ehs cock against.
So this is whit went doon, ye hud tae wait until the dug wiz at the back oh the gaerdin then ye climbed in an walked aboot until eh caught sight oh ye.
Now the race wiz oan!
Eh wiz fuckin quick when eh deeked somethin tae shag. If ye didnae make it up the wall quick enough eh pulled ye doon intae the grass an shagged ye till ye hud white stripes oan yir jaekit. 9 oot oh 10 times ye could git away fae um bit some oh the High Wall dudes waited until eh wiz at yer back an then they pushed ye back aff the wall intae certain death! It wiz fuckin traumatic ah tell ye, ah still cannie deek a bloodhound withoot lookin fur stains oan ma duds.
Ah cannie mind whit happened tae the dug, mibbie eh shagged the wrong gadgie, one day it wiz safe tae cross the gaerdin withoot gettin yir jeans dirty. A shaggy dog story indeed!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Three Colours Red, Part Two: Red buses

Yeah, I know that the Edinburgh red buses are not strictly red in colour more like maroon, but if ye live in Edinburgh, everybody calls them red buses. This distinguishes them from the green buses, which tend to travel to more outlying rural areas.

Oot o aw the red buses, the one that I have the fondest memories o is the number 42 bus. This was a braw bus. Bobrob & me could catch this bus just at the corner o oor street & it took us aw where. We normally walked doon tae Alien Orders bit to muck aboot wi him, but sometimes we just hopped on the 42 & for a few pence got a wee run doon the road.

Then me & bobrob used tae get the 42 oan a Saturday doon to ma Gran's at Craigentinny. Once there we mucked aboot wi ma cousins, going doon tae Porty, Seafield, the Golfy, Porty Dump, The George Picturehoose & plenty o other places.

A good thing aboot the 42 was that it's route was a circle. This meant that if it was a cold or rainy day, if ye kept yer eyes open when ye were waiting oan the 42, if one wasnae coming from one direction you could sometimes git it goin the other way. So if you left Porty near the Toon Hall you could git it going roond Duddingston, doon past the Kings Buildings & then up Causewayside, rather than up Marionville Road, along London Road, roond St Andrews Square & then up the Mound & hame.

Also, on yon auld red buses, wi the driver & the conductor, you could sometimes skive yer fare & spend the cash oan sweeties or comics. Braw!

Aye, I have fond memories of the auld red buses. They were our way of getting a wee bit of freedom to cross the city & explore other remote (or so it seemed to us back in the day) areas. And the 42 bus was only one of many. The 41 was a great bus too, but yon's another tale for another day!

Bobrob & me tried to get a 42 bus aboot a year or so ago to revisit auld haunts. We stood for ages at the 42 bus stop, till we discovered that it still existed, but it didnae go anywhere near the auld route it used tae take. So we ended up having to take another bus tae Porty instead. Just no the same!