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Authors: Ian Black

Glasgow Urban Myths

BOOK: Glasgow Urban Myths
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DEDICATION

This book is dedicated to

Lucy, Robin and Kate,

my three mythically lovely

and intelligent daughters.

CONTENTS

TITLE PAGE

DEDICATION

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

CHAPTER THIRTY

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

COPYRIGHT

INTRODUCTION

Glasgow urban myths, like that one about some Edinbuggers being occasionally pleasant, are as many and varied as Glaswegians themselves. There is the one about the well-to-do chap from the Mearns going into the city centre garage, after a hard day robbing punters, to pick up his Merc, and – shock, horror – it is gone. He reports it immediately to the police and they, of course, run him home promising immediate action. He is from the Mearns after all and forty years of rolling up your trouser leg has got to count for something.

Joy in the morning – the polis have found his car. It is where he left it, though it has definitely been taken away and returned. He goes down to the garage to check it out and finds a note on the dashboard saying: “Frightfully sorry, romantic emergency. I’ve filled the tank and I noticed a copy of
Opera Now
on your front seat so enclosed are a couple of tickets for the first night of
Don Giovanni
at the Theatre Royal next week. Apologies once again. I hope you enjoy the opera.”

The mannie is chuffed to bits. He has got a good story for his golf club mates and a night out with the wife at one of his favourite operas, especially nice as it was written by a Mason. Off they go, have a pleasant wee pre-theatre supper, watch the Don get dragged off to hell and listen to
‘Non mi dir, bell’idol mio’
from Donna Anna before heading back to their luxury detached bungalow.

Which has been completely stripped while they enjoyed the opera. The thieves had, thoughtfully, left the insurance documents on the kitchen table.

Then there is the one about the gay burglars, who break in, steal only your nicest bits of jewellery and rearrange the furniture so that it looks a lot better than it did. Or are they a myth?

Here you will find hard truths and blatant lies, albeit in a sort of hit-and-myth style, but you will laugh, and you will repeat them.

CHAPTER ONE

I was first told this story when I was working on the
Herald
Diary. I was phoned by a Glasgow City Councillor, who swore to me that it had happened to one of his constituents. No names, no pack drill, John, but that whisky that you promised if I didn’t tell anyone that you believed it has been a long time in the post.

This bloke goes out on a Saturday night to a party and has a couple of beers. He meets a girl who seems to like him and she invites him to another party. She takes him to a flat in Ruchill and they continue to drink, and even get involved with some other recreational drugs. There may even be a bit of haughmagandie involved.

The next thing he knows, he wakes up, completely naked, in a bath filled with ice. He is still feeling the effects of the drugs and is totally hungover. He looks down at his chest, which has, “CALL 999 OR YOU WILL DIE” written on it in lipstick (good trick this, as it would need to be written upside down so that he could read it).

There is a phone on a stand next to the bath, so he picks it up and dials. He explains to the NHS 24 emergency operator, who is saying: “Are you really
sure
that this is life-threatening?” what the situation is and that he doesn’t know where he is, what he has taken, or why he is really calling. She advises him to get out of the bath and look himself over in the mirror. He does, only to find two nine-inch slits in his lower back. She tells him to get back in the bath immediately, and they send an ambulance over. They find his kidneys have been removed. They are worth £10,000 each on the black market.

Who could possibly believe this absurd urban legend?

But then again, it does provide the world with what it needs most – a new word, ‘kidneynapping’. To the best of my knowledge, this has never happened. You need vast surgical teams to transfer kidneys, but, who knows, what with the march of technology, it may well become possible, and then the word will come into its own. And we will have ‘organlegging’ as well as, it occurs, ‘footlegging’.

CHAPTER TWO

Threat to Italians from the Tartan Army:

Deep fry yer pizzas,

We’re gonny deep fry yer pizzas.

And now one that everyone outside Scotland thinks is a myth. Deep-fried Mars bars are on sale right across Scotland, with more than a fifth of chip shops serving up the delicacy.

A study by NHS Greater Glasgow found 22% of Scottish takeaways had the foodstuff on its menu and another 17% used to sell them.

Researchers surveyed 500 chip shops and found children are the main buyers, with one shop selling up to 200 a week. The shops they interviewed also reported they have been asked to deep-fry Snickers, Creme Eggs and pizzas in the past.

Dr David Morrison, consultant in public health medicine, said, “We live in Scotland but we’d never actually seen deep-fried Mars bars for sale. We thought they might be fictitious. But the Scottish diet is a major health issue and it’s important to know what the facts are. We can now confirm that there is no doubt – the deep-fried Mars bar is not just an urban myth.”

Dr Morrison and his colleague Dr Mark Pettigrew decided to conduct the survey after the Mars bars received a mention on US television’s
The Tonight Show
with Jay Leno on NBC. Their study is published in an issue of the medical journal
The Lancet
.

The Mars bar was first produced in 1920 by Frank and Ethel Mars in Tacoma, Washington, in the US. It was locally named the Milky Way but called the Mars bar in Europe and, as far as I can discover, has never been deep-fried in its country of origin. And who, on God’s green earth, would want a larded-up Creme Egg?

I have tried, unsuccessfully, to convince an Italian woman of my acquaintance that in Scotland we deep-fry pizzas. “In lardo, no!” she says, and she will not believe me.

CHAPTER THREE

As they sing in Belarus:

Here we glow,

Here we glow,

Here we glow.

Of all the many monuments in the Southern Necropolis, one has gained a unique and mysterious reputation. It is the resting place of John S Smith, carpet manufacturer, his wife Magdalene and their housekeeper Mary McNaughton. In the form of a veiled woman beside a broken pillar, the ivy-covered and much-weathered memorial tells a fascinating story. Although the date of her husband’s death is no longer visible on the stone, the tragic story behind the accidental death of Magdalene and her housekeeper is poignantly told.

On 29 October 1933, while returning to their home at Langside Avenue from church and sheltering from the heavy rain behind an umbrella, they walked into the path of a tramcar on Queen’s Drive. Both were taken to the nearby Victoria Infirmary, but sadly Magdalene died on arrival and Mrs McNaughton passed away two weeks later. The monument is a solemn and fitting memorial to the tragedy. Local myth tells how the White Lady turns her head as you pass. Should she catch your eye, you will be turned to stone. There is, from personal knowledge, a mysterious glow about the White Lady at dead of night, or was that just me?

CHAPTER FOUR

This is the one where all the guys go:

“Oyaah!”

I heard this one a few years back. This is a story of a guy in Springburn who was a bit despondent over a recent fight with a girlfriend and decided he needed a little fresh air to clear his head. He thought he’d climb a pylon, of which, if you live in Springburn, you have a choice. He proceeded to climb his chosen pylon, but before doing so decided that a few beers might help his thinking on the subject.

So here he is, 60 feet up, drinking his beer, trying to soothe his bruised ego, as one does. He had five beers when he decided he needed the toilet, as you do after five beers. As it was such a long climb down, he decided to pee off the pylon.

Electricity is a funny thing. You don’t need to touch a wire in order to get a shock. Depending on the conditions, you could be as far away as six feet and still get shocked.

The Special Brew kid proceeded to make water, almost certainly unaware that salt water is an excellent conductor of electricity, and the electricity arced up the stream, up to his wedding tackle, and blew him off the pylon.

The line went down and the lecky guys sent workmen to see if there was any damage. What they found was an extremely dead person, his fly down, a blackened smoking stump where his tackle had been, and a single Special Brew left on a girder of the pylon.

If this is actually true, please don’t write in and tell me.

CHAPTER FIVE

This is the one that leaves a bad taste in your mouth

This story was told to me by a friend of a friend of a friend who went on holiday to Spain with his family in their caravan. Being Glaswegian, they had not, of course, booked and, when they finally found a camp site that wasn’t completely full, they discovered that they had to set up camp right next to a group of English football supporters. After a bit of harassment of their teenage daughters they complained to the management, but there was no room anywhere else, so they stayed in their caravan every day until the hooligans had left, but eventually lost patience after some late-night hassles and complained again.

The manager told the English guys to tone it down and threatened to evict them. The guys of course knew where the complaints were coming from, but seemed a bit intimidated, especially when one of them got nutted by another Scottish bloke on the site.

Then the family returned from a day trip to the village and saw some of these guys scurrying out of the caravan howling with laughter. They did not appear to be carrying anything that belonged to the family and they rushed to their caravan, only to find that nothing seemed to have been disturbed or taken. Cameras and other bits and pieces were still there.

Things seemed to settle down a bit after this and there was no more trouble, but when they got home and developed their holiday snaps they found photos of the English guys posing in the family’s caravan with the family toothbrushes, bristle first, stuck up their bums.

CHAPTER SIX

Hardened criminal

This is possibly actually true, as a friend claims that he had a newspaper clipping of it that he carried round for years until it disintegrated.

A driver of a ready-mix concrete lorry left for his work one day in a bit of a hurry. Later in the morning he realized he had forgotten his sandwiches, so he decided to stop at his house during a delivery nearby and pick them up.

As he approached the house, he noticed a strange car outside. Curious, he entered quietly and tiptoed toward the bedroom, where he heard his wife and a strange male voice indulging in what was obviously a post-coital conversation.

Just as quietly, he left the house and walked to his lorry. He backed it up to the car and, poking the chute through a window that he quietly broke, filled the car with wet cement. He called his office on the mobile, confessed what he had done, and offered to pay for the concrete. Amid uproarious laughter, he was told that the load was on the company.

BOOK: Glasgow Urban Myths
10.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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