||I’m a native of the wonderful city of Glasgow.
A great sprawl of a city, with incredible red and blonde sandstone buildings,
the Clyde, the Burrell, the Citizen’s Theatre, the Art Galleries, what
seems like thousands of parks and a sense of humour which never fails to
amaze me it’s so dry and self deprecating.
Try this one – helps if you speak Glaswegian!
A man looks in the baker’s window, and then goes
into the shop.
“Is that a doughnut or am a’ rang?” He says to
the woman behind the counter.
" No, yer right the first time, it’s a donut,"
the woman replies.
A wee bit later the man goes back into the bakery
and slaps a fifty pound note on the counter.
“A meringue,” he says. The woman looks round to
make sure there’s no one about.
“No, yer right, but come back at six when
Glasgow was a wonderful place to grow up in. We
played out until the streetlights came on, roaming about the backyards
and side streets until our Mammies called us in for supper and a quick
wash before bedtime. We played with tops and whips, had roller skates and
street skipping, played rounders and went to the Rosebuds and the Bluebells.
We were posh because we had our own inside bathroom and toilet; many of
my friends and neighbours shared a toilet across the landing and had to
go for a bath at the steamy.
I went fishing at Barrhead reservoir for brown
trout or off the pier at Fairlie for mackerel. Weekends we caught
the bus out to roam the shores of Loch Lomond or wandered the parks. Holidays
were spent ‘doon the water’ on the Clyde estuary at Largs, at my Great
Aunt Marie’s or the great golden beaches of Ayrshire or sometimes pony
trekking up in the mountains of Argyllshire. We caught the ferry over to
the Great Cumbrae or Arran and explored their glens and coasts; spent hours
peering into rock pools and capturing the miniature inhabitants. It was
I was distraught when I didn’t get into Glasgow
Uni. to read literature. They asked me why I wanted to do it and I said
I wanted to write. Apparently that was the wrong answer. Never mind, let’s
not be ‘twitter and bisted.’ Maybe they did me a favour; I have met some
wonderful people and lived in so many places I feel now that I wouldn’t
have missed it all for the world. Well...maybe some bits were a bit shitty
but generally it’s been great. Even the shitty bits had their moments!
When I didn’t get into University I went off to
teacher training college. That was a serious mistake and I discovered that
groups of children generally are to be feared. Worse than wild dogs or
piranha, children have sharp teeth and the sort of hunger for inflicting
pain that makes a Great White look fluffy. I moved to England and studied
fashion design. What a weird business fashion is, we spent most of our
time watching old movies and striking poses. I staggered out of that and
became a croupier dealing blackjack and roulette.
This was fun, much more fun than being a trainee
teacher or student, and then I made a life changing decision and accepted
a post as a student nurse. Not blood and bandages though, that would be
too easy, a mental health nurse. The rest, as they say, is history.
I got into Cognitive Behavioural Therapy before it became fashionable and
practised and taught it for years, first in nursing schools and later in
Universities. And after a wonderful career as a cognitive behavioural
psychotherapist and academic here I am writing. So that’s the work life
described, what about the hobbies? Well when I lived in Devon I swam or
surfed, drew, grew veg and went walking.
I moved to Sheffield, met my partner of twenty
some years, and after living in the Republic of South Yorkshire and having
a wonderful time in that great city, moved to Derbyshire. Here I went horse
riding and took up dog agility for about ten or twelve years. Now there’s
an expensive hobby. By the time you’ve bought, trained and fed the dogs
(one is never enough!), bought the van to transport the dogs in, the caravan
for you all to live in at the weekend shows, all of which charge for entry,
forked out for the diesel and bought all the booze to drink with the club
whenever anyone wins you’re out a pretty penny. With four dogs we once
spent £18,000 in a single season. No wonder I’m broke.
Mind you it was fun at the time, what I can remember
of it at least. We would finish work early on Fridays and dash home to
hitch up the caravan, drive for hours to set up in a field, throw up the
awning, walk the dogs and then drink several bottles of vino with members
of the club that we would greet like long lost friends even though we had
seen them the previous day at training. The next morning we would get up
at 7.00, walk the dogs, walk the courses, run the courses, walk the dogs,
eat some dinner and drink more wine. We would sit about talking about how
we had got on that day, how we were hoping to do the next day, gossip,
get pissed and fall over. Then we would repeat it all again on Sunday
with the exception of eating dinner etc. On Sundays we would finish running
the courses, tear down the awning, throw everything back into the van and
drive home to arrive at work the next day completely exhausted and ready
for a kip at lunch time. It’s a grand hobby.
Dog clubs are funny things though. People seem
to forget that this is a bit of fun and treat it like life and death. There
are some people who would burn their own granny to win a rosette worth
30 pence and a trophy that cost £1.40. Then there are others who
invest in the social side of things, and couldn’t give a rats tail about
winning really. Nice when it happens but not going to beat on their dogs,
partners, friends or anyone else if they don’t. They’re probably
the most fun but seem to be getting fewer and fewer. I think they are all
dying of liver failure. Had a laugh for a bit writing a monthly column
for the Agility Eye called Nostradogus, the predictions of an Agility Dog,
with my partner Andy. That was amusing and only one person, Kate with no
eyebrows, ever guessed it was us. Kate may pop up in one of my stories
I still have my partner and my dogs, six border
collies to be precise (see www.packleaders.co.uk), and love their little
white paws, but no longer do agility on the grounds I’m too old, too fat
and too broke. My knees just won’t take it anymore and besides, there are
more interesting things to do in the real world. Instead I do the garden,
walk and train the dogs and write. Oh yes, and I still drink the vino,
and the vodka; perhaps the occasional whiskey, but you would expect that
of a Glaswegian.