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!



Monday, 12 July 2010

Kerb yer Enthusiasm

Kerbie was a summer favourite at the High Wall and Summerhall Square was a natural ampitheatre for such a fine game, wi it's wide cul-de-sac road and well spaced pavements.
There wis next tae nae through traffic as well, so a game could be played withoot too much interruption.

The origins of kerbie are unknown but a quick deek at google shows that it springs up all over the U.K in the '70s. Like aw guid games aw ye needed wis a fitba and a street. Fling the baw at the kerb and try tae catch the rebound, Simple. Of course you could add yer ain wee nuances, oor favourite being that ye had tae throw like you were takin' a shy at fiba.

Some boy fae Fife has even made a 21st century version of Kerbie that ye can buy and play in the safety of yer ain garden, ( probably so as yer bairns dinnae git run ower or snatched by paedos). Now tae me that is just takin' things way too far. No just that, but he's wantin' aboot 70 sheets for it. I kid ye not.

Bounceback 21 Aye, I would bounce the boy back if he tried tae sell me that right enough.

£70. He's "at the hurry up" that lad. No just that, but ye can easy enough make yer ain if ye live next door tae Gary Glitter and are frettin' aboot the bairns. Just get reclaimed kerbstanes fir aboot £6 a foot or a couple o' railway sleepers fir between £10 tae £20 a pop oan eBay. A baw costs aboot £2. Job done

Then I found this story fae Kilsyth as well. Ah dinnae ken.

That's the problem wi oor world nooadays, too many rules and no enough content folk.

I bet there are bairns in the favelas o' Sao Paulo and the backstreets o' Mumbai who still play their ain version o' kerbie, and ah bet they play it wi the true spirit o' the game as well.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Any guitar and any bass drum.....

As the High Wall boys got older we got the music bug.

Bowie, Sensational Alex Harvey Band and Cockney Rebel were early influences but it was punk that really set the tone for the rest o' oor lives I guess.

OK Bobrob had his Suzi Quatro phase and who can blame the laddie, but it was the Clash, Buzzocks, Jam, Damned and Pistols that provided the High Wall soundtrack as we entered the murky world o' drinkin' and shaggin'.

But the real fun started wi' the local bands. Man we had oorsels some braw nights watchin' Edinburgh's finest young talent. The Freeze, the Scars, the Valves, the Monos, the Skids, the Prats, the Visitors and many many more. The music scene flourished and many a wee venue sprung up within a short stroll o' the High Wall. Suddenly aw they years o' growin' up in the heart o' Studentville payed off in spades wi' the availability o' free gigs, cheap drink and a guid chance o' yer Nat King.

Arkos and I used tae trail the record shops fir the latest singles. The Record Exchange on Clerk Street had a 10p box full o' singles that didnae chart. I got some right rare early punk stuff oot o' there that I still have tae this day. I used tae also have a rake o' early punk record advertising posters and gig posters that sadly I dinnae still have. A fact that often makes me weep when I look at Ebay. (Dinnae get me started oan ma Marvel Comic collection fae back in the day)

Aye it wiz great tae be a laddie just turned 16 in 1977. The High Wall wiz a happenin' place and every week brought a new sound. Ah went tae sleep every night listenin' tae John Peel on ma clock radio and woke up every morning filled wi' hope and attitute, and wi a new harmony in ma heid.

Being a Hippy back in the summer o' love must be the only thing that comes close.

Here's a wee taste.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Cool yer jets.

Ah wiz eatin an icepole the other day an ah strted tae think aboot hot days an cool sweetis fae oor day at the High Wall.
When me an Arkos went doon tae wir Grannies at Porty efternoons wir aye meant fir the pictures. Before hand we wid be doon at the golfie or at the beach daein whit bairns did then ( lookin fir crabs, searchin fur porn or empty juice boatles). So by the time wi goat tae the George wi wir well cookin, in summer that is.
So whit did wi buy? A jubbly!
Now they didnae look like the picture ye can see above, but a cannie find a real picture oan the net!
It wiz a plastic cup shaped thing wi a foil cap, it wiz reallly meant fur drinkin but the wee sweet shoap by the George used tae freeze thum an sell thum tae hot lookin gadgies oan thur way tae the pictures.
Well the boy thit wiz in charge oh security at the George (the Usher) wiz called Baldie. Ah dinnae think thit ah huv tae go intae any detail oh why wi cried um that.
Anyways he wiz a bastard fir no wantin jubblys in his picture hoose. So ye wur forced tae try an finish yur jubbly afore the doors opened fur lettin ye in.
It wiz shite. Ye wir tryin tae suck oh the goodnesss oot oh the jubbly and it wiz fuckin freezin. Yer lips wid be blue wi the cauld an yer teeth wud be chatterin but ye wurnae happy an till oh ye hud left wiz a see through bit oh ice wi nae colourin in it.
Oan a hot High Wall day it wiz worth the effort anyday. But if that Baldy basturd hddnae been there maybee wi could huv savoured it a wee bit mair!

Check out the link

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Death from above

A wiz watchin a war film the other day an a sees this helicopter wi a name oan the front sayin "Death from above".
So ah gits tae thinkin aboot oor death fi above in the shape oh a water filled blimp an a boy whae owned the local chippie. Me an Arkos hud been fuckin aboot wi wee baloons filled wi water. e wid wait at oor 4th flare tenement windae fur somebody tae walk past underneath. Up tae this time wi hud only managed tae hit the mongo whae lived in oor street.
If ye wir quick ye could aim, drop, hit an duck back in the windae withoot gittin caught.
It wiz gittin a bit boarin so wi decided tae go fur gold.
Wi goat oorsels a "blimp" balloon. Man wiz it big!. It looked a bit like King Kongs flunkie effter he hud been shaggin wi it fur a week. So wi takes it intae the lavvy an wi start running water intae it. Noo this thing is gettin fuckin heavy, me an Arkos cannie really hold it nae mair so wi tie a knot in the neck an wi huv tae roll it through the hall tae the livvin room windae. If the fuckin thing hud burst noo, the wummin doon stairs wud huv been oh hands tae the pumps an Arkos an me widnae huv been able tae walk fur a week.
So wi git intae the bombers position an wi roll the blimp up the wall ontae the windae ledge. So far sae good its still in one piece, but no fur long.
Ahm in the bombers seat coz Arkos is a bit worried, ah couldnae help masell coz if ye telt me thit ye dare me tae dae somethin then am oaf like a fuckin shoat!
Ave seen the newsreels oh the bomb aimers in the war so ah ken whit am up tae. Ah poak ma heid oot he windae past the blimp an take stock oh whits goin oan. Well wid ye credit it. A Jag hus jist pulled up an oot gits the boy whae owns the local chippie. If this wiz war time this wid be a prime target, a ball bearing factory or an ammo dump if ye kenn whit ah mean!
So hes oot the car, dressed in ees best duds inaw, silk suit, brown loafers an a camel hair crombie he looks a bit like yon Fanucci boy fae Godfather 2.
Now if the gadgie hud been tacticaly aware he wud huv noticed oor earlier atempts which appeared as water come bomb craters oan the pavement. He wuz nain the wiser. Noo he made ees next mistake. he stoaps in oor line oh sight an pulls oot a cuban cigar an hes in the process oh lightin up.
Well ah seen ma windae oh opportunity, ah took careful aim, judged the wind direction counted tae 5 an let rip, bombs away.Ah can still see this huge blimp tumbilin through the clear air fae four flairs up. it wiz like slow motion.
Thir wiz a huge crack as the blimp hit um square oan the heid! Hes knees buckled wi the weight but he stood hes ground. Ah cannie resist gettin some intelligence oan the damage tae the target, an ma partner in crime Arkos hus tae uv a deek anaw. Yur man is standin there wi hiz legs wide apart the cuban is stillin hes mooth but its no burnin, hes duds ur soakt an he looks a bit dizzy anaw coz hes swayin. He starts tae glance up but me n Arkos ur practiced at this game an we ur aff intae the livin room mission accomplished.
The last memory ahve goat o him is the picture oh the gadgie swayin doon the road drippin wet cigar still in hes mooth wonderin what the fuck happened.
We didnae git caught this time but the mission success wiz short lived ah wiz caught bi flac fae a bearded studenty gadgie coz ah sprayed hes washin but thats another story.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

A musical interlude

Found this on YouTube

Respect to oor Southside Brothers whoever you may be...

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Ye can take a horse tae water.

Ah wiz listenin tae radio 4 the other day an a heard thit acordin tae a survey done in the UK, only 11% oh parks huv still goat drinkin fountains.
So ah wiz thinkin aboot how we went aboot gettin the wet stuf when we wir bairns. Now thir wir a couple oh fountains in the Meadows but a kannie remember thit they ivvir worked. So ye hud a drink oot oh the tap afore ye left the hoose an efter that ye wir a camel! We nivvir hud money fur a boatle oh juice an the only coke we saw wiz when ye wir at the lavvy. If ye wir in a gairdin where thir wiz a hose then ye hud a quick slug before ye went oan yir way, we drunk oot oh rivirs an streams an if ye wir up the Park then thir wiz the fountain there where ye could git a drink an that wiz the closest we came tae mineral water but that wiz it.
So ah dinnae kenn whit thir moanin aboot a reckon thit thir wiz less thin 11% oh parks wi a fountain when we were bairns but wir oh still goan strong.

If ye want tae read aboot how unfortunate the bairns ur nowadays then huv a quick deek yersel!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Lost Weapons #5 The Gat Gun

The weapon of choice for the aulder High Wall boys. Gat guns were .177 "pop oot" airguns that fired corks, darts and pellets.

Arkos and I were havin' a wee debate aboot the origins of oor Gats earlier tonight. I reckoned we got the money for them fae the sale of a couple o' auld books we found when we were rakin' aboot in the abandoned Banks & Co printing Factory on Causewayside. As I recall they were auld leather bound books wi copperplate engravings o' Scottish landscapes in them. We selt them fir a fiver tae a bookseller guy in Brunstfield. Boy nivvir asked any questions, just gied us a fiver and that wis that. He wis happy and so were we. Who knows whit we had found, but a fiver wis a fair bit o' dosh back in the mid 70's. A fiver was also the price o' two brand new Gat guns

Arkos reckoned they came fae the proceeds o' the sale of a couple o' reel tae reel tape machines we fished oot o' a skip on Ratcliffe Terrace. Ah mind o' that too, and in fact still hae a couple o' the tape reels tae this day. Ah still reckon it wis the books though.

Anyway we bought oor Gats fae a wee shop in the Arcade off o' Cockburn Street. Man they were guid things tae own. We used tae wander aboot wi them jammed doon the waistband o' oor troosers, like Jimmy Cagney or John Wayne. We used tae shoot tin cans, boatils (non returnable ones of course) road signs, abandoned factory windaes and, naturally, each other.

Now a Gat gun pellet will sting and probably could "have yer eye oot" but we wore snorkel Parkas so were well padded. We used tae hae some laughs shootin' each other aroond the High Wall and in the auld abandoned Southside factories, hidin' and layin' in ambush, waitin fer a clean shot. A sort o' urban paintball withoot the coloured dyes.

Now ah wouldnae fir one minute condone firearms and there have been a few terrible and tragic incidents involving airguns over the last few years. Airgun legislation in Scotland is getting tighter and that is probably a guid thing in my book. But we did hae some fun wi thon Gat guns back in the day.

I saw an auld original Gat fir sale at the Ghillies Funday in Ballinluig a couple o' years ago and wis tempted tae buy it fir auld times sake just tae stick oan the shelf. It was only a few quid but ah ended up no botherin'. The world has moved on I guess.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Its guid fur ye!

Mind oh they things yer folks made ye take thit wir meant tae be guid fur ye? Harmless things like vitamin juice or codliver oil nivver goat much oh a lookin in oor hoose. Oor faither wiz a man fur the 'MIXTURE'. It wiz sold by a chemist up the front street an fuck nose whit wiz in it but it tasted mair thin disgustin and it wiz really called 'THE MIXTURE'. It wiz more thin likely a by product oh the virgin nuclear industry. Anyways we wir forced tae take it fur oor catargh but ahm sure wi nivvir hud catargh until wi started takin the shite. Oor faithir wiz adament wi hud tae take it until one day oor ma tellt him tae try it inow, well effter he hud dropped his guts and puked aboot five times we wir tellt thit we wurrni tae git it again. The chemist mare thin likely hud tae shut shoap effter wir faither stopped buying it. In the wild west the he wud huv been a seller oh 'snake oil'

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Three Colours Red: Part 1, Red Kola

It's funny how the taste of something can act as a kinda time-machine and wheek ye right back to a time and place long in the past.
I was oot the back cutting the grass the other day and had a sudden urge for a boatil o Red Kola. I nipped over tae the wee shop on the green and got maself a boatil. Back at the hoose I opened the top and took a swig. And there I was back in the past.
The taste o the Red Kola took me right back to my Gran & Grandad's hoose in Craigentiny back in the 70's. Right back to a Saturday night there, when a young bobrob and I sat in front of an old black and white TV as the regular monotone voice of the boy on Grandstand announced the fitba results. Ye couldnae talk durin the results as ma auld Grandad sat there wi his coupon on his knee and checked off the results. Any conversation during this ritual was met with a "Shut yer erse, son" from Grandad and a wee hit oan the back o the heid.
Me bobrob and ma cousins sat on the carpet balancin' plates o homemade chips on oor knees, and glasses ful of Red Kola, waiting for the familiar sound of Dr Who to emerge from the tinny TV speakers. Then it was complete silence broken only by the sound o chips being munched and Red Kola being sooked doon, as we went on another adventure wi Dr Who!
Red Kola is braw! My old Gran always made sure there were boatils o Barrs fizzy juice in her hoose. I hadnae tasted Red Kola in years, but that boatil the other day was great! Times have changed tho. The deposit on the glass boatil is now 30p! Imagine! Back in the day when we drank the stuff at the High Wall you only got aboot 2p oan an empty. But you had to be careful wi boatils you found at the High Wall, cause Curly might have beaten you to it! God knows how he managed to get diarrhea into a boatil or a can but he did! And even the corner shop wouldnae take one back in yon kinda state!

Places of old.

Ah wiz jist checkin the online version o the News and ah found this story.

Manys a Seturday mornin wir spen there at the matinee. Yer Ma gave ye the cash fur a tickit in it wiz wer o aff tae the pictures. Hundreds o bairns standin oot in the front street waitin fur they doors tae open an take ye tae a better place where thir were spaceships an Roman forts an oh the adventures thit we wir dyin tae be part oh.
This wiz the place where me n Arkos saw the very Flash Gordon thit wir Faithir wiz eye tellin us aboot. Oright ye could see the stings huddin up the spaceship and the sparklir stickin oot oh its erse, but it wiz still braw. We spent most oh the week waitin fur Seturday tae arrive. Me n Arkos wir lucky cause we wir doon at oor Grannies oan a Seturday eftirnin which meant thit we wir in the George fur the next load o movies where baldy wiz the man in charge.
When we goat aulder it wiz the place where we went fir oh the concerts. Some magic gigs wir held in the Odeon and manys a night wiz spent at a guid session. Oan the way hame yir ears wid be ringin the sweat wid be runnin doon yer sides and it wiz oaf tae Rizzi's fur a fish supper n a boatle o cola.
A hope it steys where it is, an mibbe it'll be a picture hoose again, but ah doubt it.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Rub of the Green

(click to enlarge)

Arkos and I were having our wee regular Tuesday evening cup o tea and blether in the 'Keld the other night and happened to remember the Letraset panorama things we bought back in the day.

Custers last stand, space exploration and fitba were all given the" rub on- Letraset" treatment back then.

We used to buy them fi a shop next to Bratisanni's, a sheet of card printed wi a background and a set o' wee rub on transfers. The idea being that you completed the picture by rubbing the transfers in the appropriate places. Minutes of endless fun.

Sometimes you rubbed too hard and a Sioux brave would lose his bow arm or a U.S Marine wi a flame thrower would get his gas cut off.

We would also indulge in 70's Decoupage by rubbing them onto bedroom furniture and the broon paper round yer school jotters.

I said to Arkos I was sure I minded having the Hibs on these sets. After a bit I dismissed it as a vague romanicised wish, and being a non football man Arkos could not add anything to the debate. However, by the power of Google I have since been proved correct, as can be seen by clicking on the above photos (and straining your eyes at the blue yin).
The other yin is a Captain Scarlett set, half completed.

What I wouldnae give for a #4 Soccer Action Replay, Hibs v Celtic Jimmy O'Rourke set, a #5 Scotland v England, John Brownlie, or especially a #7 Hearts v Hibs (0-7) Donald Ford set (nae offence Naldo, our adopted High Wall brother).

For more nostalgic sticker nonsense head for the excellent

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Teenage kicks!

Ah wit thinkin the other night aboot the wummin thit ye wir radge aboot as a teen. Fur me it wiz Suzy Quattro. Ah hud a full size Suzy poster oan ma wall. Manys a night ah tossed un turned (mair tossin thin turnin ahm afraid tae say!) wi Suzy oan ma mind. Ah suppose ma Ma hud tae crack the sheets a couple o times tae git thum in tae the washin machine. The guid thing aboot Suzy wiz thot she wiz knee high tae a grasshopper which siuited me doon tae the groond, nae need fur a set o steps or an auld beer crate so ye could gi her a quick snog, nah ye could git right doon tae the nitty gritty. As a well quoted Beggbie wid say "she wiz ah right we ride!"
Well then it steyed as a dream but ah huv tae admit Suzy helped me through manys a dark patch. Fuck yer psychoanalists gi me a Suzy Quattro poster any day.

Monday, 12 April 2010

The Commie

One of the best things to happen to the High Wall was the 1970 Commonwealth Games and the decision to build the swimming pool just up the road fae us.

Once aw they Fancy Dan Australian swimmers used it for a week or so then pissed aff, the facility was left tae the bairns of the South Side, Craigmillar, Niddrie and anywhere else on the Route number 14 bus.

For the High Wall boys it was a 5 minute pad up the road wi yer towel and trunks under yer airm. Every Friday night we were there along wi thoosands o' other bairns. It was always right busy and the pool looked like bairn soup. They also probably used mair chlorine in the Commie on a Friday than the Germans did during the whole Ypres campaign.

Yer locker money got you a key which you slotted into a colour coded rubber band. Then you were off, daein' bombs off the divin' boards, pishin in the pool and generally havin' a rare auld time. Some paedo type lifeguard was aye blawin' a whistle and givin' ye a row, but we didnae care.

You usually had to queue up to get in and they did it in 1/2 hour timed sessions, each wi a different band colour. The scoreboard had the coloured boxes, and they lit up when yer time was up. The tannoy would tell ye tae get oot as well. You would always try to get an extra half hour when the light changed to tell you tae get oot, but if the paedo spotted yer band, that was the game up. Ye had to hit the showers and scrabble aboot for the remains o' a Vosene shampoo sachet wi a wee bit left in it. Quite often the paedo would hang aboot the showers tae make sure ye left and didnae try tae sneak back in. Aye right!!

Then came the best bit, Bratissani's. You got chips wi the locker money, they always tasted barry. Mind you anything tasted barry after a few hours of swallowing large amounts o' pish and chlorine.

I passed the Commie the other day and saw it's getting a full refit. Good to see it's still there but back in oor day it was a proper affordable baths open tae awbody.

New yin does look barry though.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Foods of the High Wall #2 The Donkey's Welt Tube

Not technically a "food" this one, mair o' an unwanted by-product. These things were forever turnin' up on yer plate back in the 70's.

Nowadays meat is quite sterile and quality control by the faceless supermarkets has meant that every bit o' meat ye buy fae them is roughly the same size, shape and weight. Folk are ower squeamish these days. Foot and mouth outbreaks, mad coo disease and the media frenzy that feeds off them have meant that if someone finds anything on their plate that is different, then they are right roond tae the supermarket kickin up a right stink.

Back in the day you used tae find aortas, bits o ventricle, ligaments, grizzle, string and awthing in yer dinner. "Just eat it" was the instructions from oor parents, "It'll no do ye any harm" or "it's just part o' the meat".

At school the auld dinner hall joke was that the big tube in yer stew was a urethra of equine origin, or a "donkeys welt tube" as we called it. If you bit into the donkeys welt tube and spat it oot you got the pish ripped oot o' you all day by yer mates. It was one of those daft slaggings like the haircut slagging but ye just had to take it. You knew that someone else would get one later in the week and you would be off the hook and would be right in there wi' aw the guid one liners.

Arkos was telling me the other day that he can trace the origins of his vegetarianism back to findin' a beauty o' a welt tube in a Frey Bentos pie. Big Jessie that he is, if ye ask me.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Dunsapie Loch

The Trout season started this week and I'm definately going to try to get oot on the river more this year.

Cannae beat a wee bit o' fly fishing for the wild broon troot of an evening. Wading up tae yer baws in the Tay, takin' in aw the sights and sounds. The Wildlife disnae expect you to be their in the middle o' the river, so ye get a right good deek at kingfishers, otters, deer, herons, dippers ect to name a few. You often get low flyin' ducks headin' straight fur ye, zoomin' aboot 3 foot above the water at heid level. It's the look on their faces when they clock ye at the last second and bank hard tae avoid ye.

In the summer you get the Daubenton's Bats at dusk, flying aroond yer heid efter the insects, sometimes they will go efter yer fly, so you hae to be careful and look oot for the wee dudes.

Anyway back tae the High Wall. I mind one summer we aw got the fishin' bug and spent the entire holidays up at Dunsapie Loch fishing for perch. We used tae dig up worms fae the back green and head up first light wi oor wee spinnin' rods. I mind it was a cracker o' a summer tae and we would sit aboot watchin oor bubble floats and shootin' the breeze wi one another. Sharin' cheese & pickle pieces, crisps and bottles o' dilutin' juice. Fond, fond memories o' good friendships, and a time when we were laddies who didnae hae a care in the world.

Occassionally we would catch a fish, maistly wee yins. They all went back except for one time when Arkos and I caught a couple o' perch aboot the 1lb mark. We decided that we would eat them so we gave them a few dull yins to the heid and trotted aff hame wi oor prize.

My Maw cooked one o' them for us and I have tae say fair play tae her, she got us tae gut it and fillet it efter a fashion. She then showed us how tae fry it in butter wi a bit flour. We ate it and it wisnae that guid, stillwater fish like perch are earthy and fu o wee bones. Mind you we were so proud o' oor new hunter, gatherer status that we didnae complain. We did however elect to gie the other perch tae a neighbours cat.

When I go fishin' now I often let ma mind drift and I remember guid times and happy places. The Dunsapie summer will always be one of them.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Foods of the High Wall #1 Heinz Kidney Soup

My Maw was for ever feedin' us this pish. I had in fact blotted it out from my subconscious until a recent conversation wi thon bugger Arkos brought it aw back.

I then got to thinking that maybe it didnae exist after all. A mythical thing "like Unicorns or Eskimos" as Homer would say.

In fact it was hard to find any reference to the stuff even when ye Googled it. So I concluded that either A) it didnae exist, or B) an entire generation had chosen to wipe it from the collective psyche en masse. Bad food denial on a global scale.

But then I found this, proof indeed. Lurking just under the Heinz beans & baconburgers and there it is. Heinz Kidney Soup. This was on Flickr and was taken at a place called the Museum of Brands in Notting Hill. Good to see an auld tin o' West End Grill in there too.

Now what I recall aboot Kidney soup was that it was gritty in texture and tasted shite. Not only that ye but were never allowed tae leave the table until ye finished it, no matter how much ye gret.

This is the reason we care not to remember it in the same way that we might wax fondly aboot Bazooka Joes, Lucky tatties and Quiz bars.

This process is called "dissociative amnesia" and is commonly seen in trauma survivors. It is basically memory distortion to do with repetitive traumatic experiences. It is why major "one-off "traumatic events like a sair accident can often be recalled easily, whereas painful repetative experiences like sittin' at the tea table forcin' than pish doon as it went cauld, cannae. Yer dissociative defenses kick in big time and you blot it oot yer mind.

And that my friends is the psychology behind why we still fuckin' hate the very thought of Heinz Kidney Soup.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Non Stop Erotic Cabaret

Havin' just been doon tae the auld toon for Jim's funeral thought I might do this piece.

Arkos and I got the train doon fae the relative tranquility of Highland Perthshire to the stomping grounds of our wild years.

After hookin' up wi Davy and sayin oor farewells tae the Fitsch we thought it only fitting that we head up to a few of the auld haunts.

Aw the pubs where Jim, Davy Arkos, Bobrob and masel used tae have some right laughs are aw changed. The Burke used to be guid place for a few pints and live music. We nivir got tired o' watchin thon lad Billy Jones beltin oot John Prine and Townes Van Zant numbers of a night.

The Garrick was another shop we frequented wi the guid pinball table and a Frogger machine.

Now baith these pubs also had lunchtime Go-Go dancers, but as laddies growing up aroond aboot that area, it wis nivir aw that big a deal tae us. Some auld growler girating tae a few tunes was just a laugh. Some of the bars had a wee stage, some just horsed a bit o' plywood over the pool table. Maist opted for the UV lights which covered a multitude o' sins. The same trick is still used in the lavvies at Perth Sheriff Court so as the heroin users cannae find a vein. Obviously works well wi the varicose kind too.

Tony's Cellar Bar at Bristo Square was the best venue for the UV seediness and also because one o the dancers had a snake. Now she wis nae Salma Hayek, but it was like an underage pint, a bit laugh and a trip tae the zoo aw rolled intae one. Not only that you had auld Tony on the microphone badgering ye tae buy mair drink in his droll Maltese accent. Barry times.

The Pubic Triangle is now a full-on, dedicated, stag party "Lap dancing" area, aw blacked oot windaes and no welcoming looking at all. Clearly no trying tae cater for workies having a pie & a pint on their lunch break or daft layaboot laddies just oot for a bit laugh o' an afternoon.

The Garrick and Jess's Bar are aw changed too. Baith souless places wi aboot 20 big tellys aw showing Bundesliga fitba, which no-one in the place even seemed to be bothered their erse lookin' up at.

Makes a man feel auld and mair than a bit sad.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Jim Fisher R.I.P

Sad news indeed...

School mate, Yarrow camper, gig ligger, drinking buddy and urban adventurer extrordinaire..

Many crazy crazy nights and too many shared laughs to mention.

Rest in Peace the Fitsch, from the boys of the High Wall.


Thursday, 18 February 2010


Ah wiz talkin tae Arkos the other night and jist rememberin yon cauld times in the High Wall tenements. Nae central heatin fir the High Wall gadgies! We hud a coal fire in the kitchen and that wiz it! If yae wir real lucky yir ma pushed a parrafin heater intae yur room at aboot 8 at night which meant ye smellt like a north sea oil worker and ye wir near passin oot fir the lack o oxygen.
Double glazin in yon days meant that yir windae hud a top part and a bottom part an baith wir made o glass. The inside o oor bedroom windae looked like the photae at the top, on the inside! Ye didnae quite realize jist how cauld it wiz till ye got a deek o yer blue lips and the fact ye couldnae quite grip yir Action Man wi yir frostbitten fingers.
Thir wiz aye jist enough hot water in the mornin fir yir faither tae huv a shave. Efter that it wit cauld water or nowt. Ah wiz like yer Seb Coe o the sink. A full wash in less than a minute withoot gettin the backs oh ma hands wet. Ah used tae imagine that when a went fir a shit in the mornin ye could hear the ice on the lavy breakin as the log crashed through the frozen wastes. But there again maybe ah wiznae imagining it at all.
Ther wiz also a few chores involved wi winter as well. Ye hud tae go up tae the Ironmongers (a name ye dinnae see any mair) wi a red jerry can tae git the parrafin fir the killer heater. It wiz a slog up tae the front street intae the Aladdins cave o the ironmongers. It wiz always dark in the shop and the smell wiz aye o parrafin and wax candles. Wooden floorboards thi creaked as ye walked intae the shop, the ironmonger aye dressed in his brown dustcoat, like the janny used tae wear, baldy heid and roond glesseys. Ah cannae really remember whit else wiz in the shop it all seems tae be jist a dark cloud roond the parrafin fillin station. Mibbie Arkos kin tell us mair.
Anyway off doon the road wi the red can cuttin deep intae yer ungloved cauld hands tae fiil yir lifeline fir the Artic bedroom night.
When ye wir in yir bed noddin off in the parrafin soaked air thir wiz aye the comfortin blue light fi the heater softly lightin up the dark night.
Aye the High Wall winters wir the boys!