Sunday, 29 April 2012

1989

Following the convoy in Morlaix during our Holiday.


Before I go any further, I've got to add something to my account of the year 1988. I had parted company with Black Bob, as I've already said, and for a few months tried to carry on by myself. This was proving to be difficult because of the increasing demand for my services, so I must have been doing something right ? Towards the end of 1988 a couple of people came into my life, one, to whom I owe a huge amount of gratitude and the other ?....well, what can I say ?


OK, the first one was Andy Blackbourn...."no E at the end !" 


Andy and a pal in Knoydart early that year.
Despite the most peculiar set of circumstances surrounding our first meeting, Andy has become one of my closest friends. At the time I was in the process of buying a practically derelict garage in Cathcart and had raised enough money to buy it and rebuild it. I was looking for a builder to give me estimates and plans for this project and remember, I had never done anything like this before. Another good friend, Charlie O'Neil, recommended a builder he knew called Andy and arranged for this Andy to drop in to the garage in Govanhill Street to discuss this with me. One afternoon a guy walked into the garage, introduced himself as Andy and asked me just what kind of work I needed doing. This of course was Andy Blackbourn looking for a job in the garage not Andy the builder !  I didn't know this and for the next ten minutes we were talking about two completely different things. Andy must have thought I was nuts because I kept going on about the new premises and the building work I was thinking about and hardly mentioned the motor trade work at all ! To me, it seemed that this builder wasn't really much interested in the building trade but was fascinated by the BMW's in the garage and kept asking technical questions about them.
Eventually I caught on and eventually asked Andy if he would like to work with me in the garage. Andy's another one of those people with Castrol oil in their bloodstream, a good natural Mechanic ! I've met plenty of people who call themselves mechanics but very few of them are true natural Mechanics.
Andy is !


Douglas Reilly in Glencoe that year.
Now the other one ! He was not, despite his very best intentions and a huge amount of hard work, a natural mechanic. He wanted to be, really, really wanted to be ! I rather foolishly mistook ambition for ability in this case. Douglas Reilly was a nice guy and a gifted welder. Eventually did very well with the welding when he moved to the States, but not until he'd wasted a lot of time trying to become something he wasn't cut out to be. Don't get me wrong, Douglas became a fine amateur mechanic but he just didn't have that vital extra spark which would have let him earn money as a professional.
Douglas first turned up as a customer with a niggling fault with his Vauxhall Nova which was his pride and joy. He'd been round most of the Vauxhall dealers and tuning shops and wasn't getting any satisfaction until he came into the workshop in Govanhill Street. The fault was cured by a  minor adjustment to the carburetter but Douglas was impressed by the fact that I explained the problem to him and showed him exactly what I was doing.  So a few days later, to show his gratitude, he came round with a bag of buns for the tea break and got talking. He was in a pretty bad way at the time.  He was out of work because I think he couldn't cope with the stress he was under in his last job in Holland. As a result he was under doctors orders and pumped full of anti-depressants and who knows what else. But he didn't drink or smoke and he was a highly qualified driver.And he could be good company too. So he eventually started helping me out on an informal basis by delivering cars to customers and collecting bits and pieces for me.








So this was the state of play at the beginning of 1989, Andy was working full-time with me and Douglas was doing odd jobs for us on a casual basis. I was still trying to get a builder to draw up plans for the new garage but without much luck. Sandra was helping me deal with the applications to Glasgow Council Planning Department and Building Control Department. This was my introduction to two of the most corrupt, inefficient and downright obstructive organisations I'd ever come across. Planning Department completely contradicted Building Control and the only time they agreed was when they told me that I couldn't rebuild the garage at Cathcart. At a cost, we managed to get round all of their objections until they decided that the ground wouldn't support the building I intended to erect. They advised me to appeal, again at a cost ! I engaged an expert on foundations who eventually turned up and asked me to have a hole about the size of a grave dug on the site at Cathcart.  Later that day he wandered back, looked into the hole and said "There's nothing wrong with that, it would support a tenement !"......then sent me a bill for £600.00 ! His report was duly attached to the appeal and I thought that at last we could start building.
No Chance !!  The Council's expert didn't agree with our expert !  Now I would have to appeal to the Secretary of State for Scotland in Edinburgh. Christ ! I just wanted to build a wee garage !
By this time we had to do our sums and realised that the money we had raised  was rapidly disappearing. I'd been paying a mortgage on the garage in Cathcart and the rent for Govanhill Street for over a year now and with the costs of the plans and applications fees I certainly couldn't afford the thousands it would cost to appeal to Edinburgh.
If I had just went ahead quietly with the rebuilding I might have got away with not notifying the Council but I was determined to keep myself right legally.....maybe I was wrong ?


Well, then it was back to the drawing board and a lot of sleepless nights.








To lighten things up, John Dunn had suggested a family holiday in France, but this time with even more people than the first holiday in 1979.  If anything is to be organised John's the man ! He got us all booked into nice Gites right on the beach in Brittany in a perfect wee town called Loquirec. John and Irene with Jenifer and Sasha were going. Sandra, Lucy, myself and Lucy's friend Julia were going. As were Irene's sisters and their families. And who could forget the Golden Girls ? These were Irene's Mother and two Aunts and they were treasures !


This was for July, so what could we do till then for a bit of amusement ?
I asked Andy and Douglas if they fancied a bit of cold weather hill walking and camping in Knoydart in April. I don't know if they knew what they were letting themselves in for but they both said yes. We decided to do a two car walk across Knoydart by leaving a car in Mallaig then all getting into the other car and driving to Kinloch Hourn. We then walked into Glenbarisdale, camped for the night, then next day walked over the pass through the snow to Inverie to catch a ferry to Mallaig.


Andy and Douglas  climbing out of Glenbarrisdale .
 Inverie is a strange place, it's on the mainland but it can only be reached on foot or by ferry from Mallaig. It feels more remote than Portree on Skye or any of the towns on Mull. It was a good weekend and we all have fond memories of it. Douglas was a great man for home comforts and when he packed a rucsac for a weekend not many people could lift it! Mind you, he never complained. He was quite happy to carry soup pots and frying pans, good shoes and smart clothes in case we went to a dance, and always a bottle of Blue Nun wine ! Even though he didn't drink !






George and Linda Spence beside John Cherry's Rolls-Royce outside the Drovers Inn.
No George Spence with us this time, but we did have a weekend with him and Linda in the Drovers Inn at Inverarnan at the top of Loch Lomond in March. In fact there was quite a gathering there that weekend, John and Marge Cherry, Billy and Eileen Crewe and Alistair Rickett, Ian McGivern and a crew of "Teapots" turned up. I decided to cycle there to get some exercise. It was actually a fine run, the weather was kind and early season the roads were quiet. The Drovers at that time was a bit of an institution. To be frank, the place was a bit of a dump, but it got away with it because the staff were great, the atmosphere was good and the food was above adequate. If they ever cleaned the place up it would have lost half of it's character!


A sample of the decor in the Drovers Inn.
 At the front was a big rambling bar room with open fires at each end, so no matter which way the wind blew you could be choking with the smoke blown down at least one of the lums. As for decor, you'll get an idea when you look at the photos. Like all old Scottish houses it has a connection with Bonny Prince Charlie. It's probably the mud off of his gillies brogues that's still lying on the floor. He would feel at home in an instant ! Sandra and I , this time, got the haunted bedchamber to sleep in. It's not ghosts that keep you awake in there , its the lumpy bloody bed, I'd rather have slept on rocks !


John Cherry leading the high jinks !
 But I remember well staying there before and going up to the room for some reason, was fair taken with the clouds of steam rising from the beds ! The place was riddled with damp, so to dry out the beds someone had put the electric blankets on full power ! A few medicinal brandies later  I couldn't have cared less, and that night I slept like a log.




Alistair Rickett with some of the usual suspects.
The next morning when we were settling up the bill I got my first glimpse of the "Teapots" in their true colours. Duncan, the owner, had just left a bill for a certain amount of money for everything, bed, breakfast and meals the night before.


Myself just joining in with the antics !
This put the "Teapots" into total panic mode ! "Er, I think she had an extra poppadum so how much does a poppadum cost ? Does anybody have a calculator ? " The whole thing was dirt cheap but the miserable sods were feart that someone would be getting something for nothing. I'm sure they're all accountants at heart ! Duncan watched this for a few minutes then said "Right, behave yourselves ! How many are you ? Twenty ! OK, Call it £300.00 total so you each give me £15.00 and stop farting about !" Good old Duncan !


Alistair Rickett going to bed.....anybody's bed !






Meanwhile back at the garage, in a fit of madness that wouldn't be repeated, I'd bought a BMW 316 from Jimmy Green the bodywork repair man. I bought it at a reasonable price, but soon realised that I didn't really need it. It spent most of it's time sitting outside the house in Nithsdale Road. But I reckoned it would be quite nice to drive to France in and then I would sell it. So when I had time I was going over it with a fine tooth comb, the last thing I wanted was a car letting me down on holiday. Strangely, I don't have a single photo of it, but I remember it well, nice wee car !


May was a busy month. Loads of work in the garage ! I'd been servicing and repairing a nice old BMW 3.0Si for a Greek customer of ours, Nontas Pitticas. Nontas was pretty high up in Paisley and was one of the main people involved in the setting up of a Paisley University in Athens. He was a really interesting and entertaining character who worked at two speeds.....immediately or whenever !
Engine bay of BMW 3.0 Si
 During this month we had a "whenever" job from him, an engine and transmission overhaul for the old 3.0. "Make sure it's well run in before you give me it back" he'd asked, so I used it daily for a week or so then took a run to Carlisle to visit the Dunns.
Transmission work on Nontas Pitticas's BMW 3.0 Si


 This was only five months after the tragedy of the Lockerbie Bombing by Gadaffi of Libya. John had some horrific stories about the aftermath of this atrocity. Some of his colleagues found bodies on their properties and one poor soul, who somehow didn't know anything about it, was traumatised by driving to work the next morning with bodies and parts of bodies hanging from trees along his route !


The Dunns dancing round Long Meg.


 However, we had a fine day out at a stone circle known as Long Meg and her Daughters and a good lunch in the Shepherd's Inn in Melmerby. John was travelling all over the UK with his job at this time and was fed up with the bland overpriced rubbish at motorway stops. So he started searching out good places to eat that were just off the motorways and one of the first he found was the Shepherd's Inn. I told you he was an organiser !!






Lucy was at a bit of a loose end right now, she didn't know where she was going career-wise.Before she left Hutcheson's Grammar she had a part time job on the check-out at the local Coop.  It wasn't easy advising her because really, she could have done anything she wanted to do....if she wanted to do it ! So to give her a bit of interest and experience I coaxed her into helping us out in the garage with paperwork and answering the phone. It must have bored her to bits, but if nothing else it helped her realise that she was capable of much more. I was a bit concerned that she might turn into one of those Teenager creatures that hide in their rooms and have nothing to do with their family and eventually screw themselves up mentally.  But she didn't ! She asked me what I would like for my birthday that year.


Lucy in the middle with Douglas and his bag, Maureen, Leo and Andy on top of Meikle Bin.
 " Your company on a walk to the top of Meikle Bin in the Campsies !" I replied. The weather was typical but the company was great.   
A well remembered day on the hillside !! Andy and Maureen  Blackbourn with Douglas Reilly and his pal Leo were there too. Many years ago I'd done this walk with our Dave and regretted leaving Lucy at the bottom of the hill because she was too wee at the time.


Examining a Merlin V12 aircraft engine on Meikle Bin.
 So this made up for it, she got to the top and found the aircraft engine and the wing, remnants of a crash in the early fifties I think.








Then it was the annual jaunt to Cally Palace in Gatehouse of Fleet for the S&D ball with Sandra who was by now a key member of staff in S&D . It's a pity Gerry Swan was such a fool a few years later and started listening to the wrong person....more on this later, it could be a story of it's own !! The Rise and Fall of Ian McDonald aka Plug ! Watch this space !


George Waddell and me on the top of the Merrick in Ayrshire.
Whilst there, rather than get involved with the pointless drunkenness which usually happened, George Waddell and  I climbed the Merrick. I'd always wanted to do this after  Harry Fairbairn telling me how one day, with the cycling club, he'd persuaded them to attempt to cycle to the top of the highest hill in Ayrshire. Many years later I read an account of this run by David Bell, the Highwayman, who had a weekly cycling column in the Ayrshire Post.
 And what can I say about George Waddell ? A fascinating character, absolutely full of stories, some comical, some tragic but all interesting. Doesn't drink or smoke but sadly in later life became addicted to gambling.


Annual S&D Swimming Gala at the Cally Palace Hotel.
 Every few years Gerry Swan robs George blind yet he still goes back for more....?? I could never figure that out ?  One of the stories I heard about George was the time when he single handedly demolished a petrol filling station....by accident ! I wish I could remember the details, maybe Sandra'll help me out with some more George Waddell stories.










Interior of Delvin Road Garage after raising the roof.
Meanwhile back to the garage in Cathcart. By now I was getting desperate. I asked George Waddell if he had any ideas. You see the problem with the garage in Cathcart was that it was originally built as a block of lock-ups, probably in the 1930's and as a result didn't have enough height to install car lifts. This is why I thought the best thing to do was to demolish and rebuild but the Council effectively scuppered that plan. So now all I could do was to somehow modify the building as it stood. I asked George if he could see any reason why I shouldn't raise the roof and extend the walls upward to support it. Which is what we eventually did that year. Although how it turned out was a bloody nightmare to me.We had decided to close the garage for a month to give us time to move from Govanhill Street into Delvin Road in Cathcart and have any building work done at the same time.


Entrance to Workshop in Delvin Road .
 Yes, I know now, a total nightmare !! I couldn't afford to get professionals in and anyway I felt I had been ripped off so much by "professionals" already so I relied on friends and friends of friends. I hope you're paying attention to this ? Don't do what I did, it's a sure-fire recipe for a disaster and even a straining of friendships ! I'd asked our old pal Davie McLeod to organise the building work if Andy and I raised the roof ourselves. Well, the labourer that Davie sent us was well meaning but practically useless, he made more of a mess than anything! Eventually I had to get rid of him and call in a squad of brickies to do the job properly. The mistake I made was that I thought that Davie would have been able to supervise this guy more closely than he did, and I forgot to allow for the fact that Davie was only doing this when he could spare time from his own job. I can't remember how this happened, but I had Peter Wylie do most of the electrical work and then get Jim McCormick finish it off ? I do remember that Georges work seemed very professional, as you would expect, but a lot more expensive than I was led to believe ? However I came to an agreement with him that involved him getting a BMW R100RS motorcycle that I'd bought a few years previously and had never, ever ridden !










Arriving in France after midnight, Raymond watching out for bats !
We went on holiday hoping that the building work would be completed while we were away...little did we know !! 
It's just as well there were no mobile phones for the likes of us then ! It would have ruined our holiday if I had known what was going on in Glasgow while we were on holiday.
But anyway, the holiday....what a holiday !! 
It was Great ! We set off in a convoy of four or maybe even five cars from Carlisle heading for Plymouth and a Brittany Ferries crossing to Roscoff.


John Dunn, if you read this I'd be delighted if you could fill us in on the details of the trip to France.


We arrived after midnight at the village where we were to meet the woman with the keys to our gite. There was only one street lamp lit in the whole village, and there underneath it stood this figure dressed in a nightdress or a shroud, and what looked like her bare feet. That was spooky enough, but what really got the rest of us going was the bats that were circling round this woman's  head ! As the head of the family and a responsible adult I did the only thing I could have done... I pushed Lucy out the car and told her she was the only one with good enough French to speak to the Undead !
 We lived to tell the tale .
So we were quickly shown round the house, we had no idea what it would look like in daylight, but inside was fine and we all crashed out almost immediately.


The view from our window with the tide out.
The next morning we woke up and thought we'd died and gone to heaven ! 
The house was beautiful and backed right onto a fabulous beach. There was a good restaurant next door and a nice bar next to that and we were only a few miles away from the first HyperMarche we'd ever encountered !
 We had arrived during a particularly hot spell of weather so John and I decided that we just had to fill the fridges with good cheap French beer. You can imagine our delight when we found in the local supermarket cases of beer that cost practically nothing compared to what we paid in Glasgow. You can also imagine our rage and despair when we got home, chilled it and tried it, and found out that it was bloody shandy ! As it turned out, the weather was so hot that by the end of the week we had come to enjoy it so much we went back for more !


Christine and David Murphy in the Grande Cafe de la Terrace
Indeed, the heat that summer had a lot to answer for, including the Welsh Incident !
I really don't like talking about this, but I suppose I should set the record straight. One afternoon John Dunn and I were debating ways to keep comfortable in hot weather when we seemed to remember that in hot climates people eat hot spicy food, so we decided to try eating one or two pickled chili peppers.


Me, recovering from the chili incident the previous day !
 After we'd finished the jar we both reckoned that this was a grand idea and we felt just fine. That evening the whole contingent trooped off to Morlaix where we had dinner in a Vietnamese Restaurant. The food was fine, but John suddenly excused himself from the table and disappeared for a while, only to come back rather ashen-faced and subdued. I asked him if he was alright but he said it was probably just something he'd eaten, but he was OK now. Well I thought it was maybe the roasted poodle we'd just eaten that disagreed with John so suggested a change of scene for a coffee and maybe a wee digestif  perhaps ?  We all went round to the  Grand Cafe de la Terrace where we could only get seats at the tables on the pavement as it was full inside with what looked, and sounded, like a Welsh Choirs coach trip.
Now before I go any further I'l give you an idea of  " les toilettes" in the Grande Cafe de la Terrace. They are perfectly acceptable, clean ,tidy and well appointed....but there are only two of them ! And they are situated at the end of a long corridor.
So there I was laughing and joking with a nice wee digestif at my elbow, when like a bolt to the bowels it struck me !
F*** !!
 My guts are going to explode in the next seven and a half seconds ! That was what hit John earlier ! Well, they still talk about it, how I vaulted over the table and sprinted down the corridor to come upon a queue of Welsh women patiently waiting to use the facilities.
 "Praise the Lord!" I thought as I saw one of the doors opening but this is no time for diplomacy as I elbowed several women aside and practically yanked the woman out of the cubicle. I made it with half a second to spare !!
 Relief !!
But, bloody hell, how was I going to get out of here in one piece ? The Welsh women outside were vexed to say the least !
"Did you see that ignorant sod, Bronwen, damn nearly had me on my arse he did !"
"Yes Myfanwy, we saw it alright, but what would you expect from these French buggers. If I thought he understood, I would give him a piece of my mind, I would !"
"Ah ha ! this might be a way out " I thought. So I squared myself up, stepped out and dispensed a few "Bon Soirs" and "Apres Vous" here and there and managed to escape with nothing worse than a back full of glared daggers!


However I did suggest that I beat it rapidly before I got found out !






The Golden Girls, and Sasha wondering just what sort of family she'd been born into !
One day Lucy, Julia and I went to the local town to hire bikes for a week. I was a bit concerned that Lucy was having such a herd time keeping up with us. I put it down to her having taken up smoking cigarettes but the main problem was her asthma which I cruelly had dismissed as a fashionable fad ! I was totally wrong about the asthma, but not about the smoking !!
This was the year that the Tour de France was won on the very last day by Greg Lemond by the tiny margin of eight seconds. I remember seeing the photos of Greg Lemond and poor Laurent Fignon taken on the podium in Paris. Laurent Fignon looked like a man destoyed. And that is the nearest the French have come to winning the Tour de France ever since !


The Minature Submarine on the Quay at Brest with the Gun under the trees.
Then there was the day we took a trip to Brest when John and I spotted a fine handy minature submarine in a dockyard. An old French gentleman with a little English told us that it was left by the Germans at the end of the war. I asked him about the large naval gun that was mounted near it. "That was from the battleship Bretagne which was sunk during the war, by the Royal Navy, in North Africa "
"Oops !" Well, what do you say it a situation like that ? "I'm sorry we sunk your ship and killed a thousand of your sailors, we won't do it again !"
But can you imagine the position  Admiral Marcel-Bruno Gensoul. was in ? Click on his name and check it out !




And I won't even mention how John, Jenifer, Sasha and I swam across the bay at Loquirec, or the beach cricket game that went on until dark and was only stopped when someone let the bat fly into the sea !




Looks like a holiday, doesn't it ?
Or the "Nuit de la Saucisse" where we baled out of a boule contest before it turned ugly.


The eerie atmosphere of the" Night of the Sausage" !


 And Lucy  I'm sure remembers the time we went to a sea shanty festival when we got lost in thick fog on the way home. We crawled into a village with the usual one street lamp on outside the church and I asked Lucy and Julia to jump out of the car and go and read the name of the village on the bin outside the church. Of course it was one of your typical Breton horror show churches with life size statues of skeletons and devils all over the place. Poor Lucy, she was terrified, her and Julia had recently watched "The Fog", a real scary movie, at home. We made it back to the gite alive but had to fortify ourselves with several medicinal brandies, or at least John and I did !


Sandra and Lucy recovering from the drive in the fog !
But this was the time and place when Sandra and I decided we were going to retire to France as soon as we could afford it. We found out that the house we were staying in was for sale and were pleasantly surprised at the price....it was about half the value of our house in Nithsdale Road ! So we did some real research, how much was electricity, gas, food, local taxes etc.  When we got home we worked out that we could retire quite comfortably to France in about twelve years if things went well.


The Holiday House which really took our fancy !
 By "we" I of course mean Mimsie and Dave as well. Ricky was settling down to his job in Frasers and had met a really nice girl, Mary McGlinchy, so it looked as if  they were going to become an item and set up home in Glasgow eventually. 
So we put the idea to Mimsie and Dave who both thought this was a great plan and Mimsie in particular was all for it !








Six weeks later than I'd planned, we re-opened the garage in Delvin Road ,Cathcart. This was a horrible time for me, I'd just about run out of money and the garage that I eventually had just wasn't the one I'd envisaged. But I had to get on with it, nothing else for it ! It would have been so easy then to get a bigger loan from the bank but I just had a gut feeling about this and made up my mind not to. 
I could have, and maybe I should have, explained to everyone just how desperate the finances were. But I didn't want to worry people unnecessarily and I felt that people would have lost confidence in me. So I kept my thoughts to myself and struggled on, often working practically right through the night, a thing I said I'd never do ! I really understood what George Morrison was going through....welcome to the Club !!
This was when my friend Gordon Stoddart's son John joined us as an apprentice, and Douglas Reilly was now a full time employee.  So there were three people depending on me for jobs plus if I didn't succeed Mimsie, Dave , Ricky, Sandra and Lucy would be homeless !  Stressful ? Just a bit !!


Young John was a nice kid, he was not at all academic, but he was keen as mustard on cars, and motorcycles later. On his first day we asked him to make some tea as this was a very important duty for all apprentices. John had been nicely brought up and asked where the teapot and cups and saucers were. He was horrified when he found out it was garage tea that was required which means a teabag in a muckle mug each and if the mugs reasonably clean all the better! He soon picked it up and Andy coached him closely in cursing and swearing, which is also a much neglected skill.  But to be serious for a minute, John became a fine mechanic, very, very scrupulous in his work ! He learned to work efficiently but I think it was in his nature to pay close attention to detail. His work never caused me a minutes concern.  He could be strangely impatient about other things though, when he was learning to drive it was as if every other driver on the road was an idiot ! He was probably right !
But we all got on well together and on the whole I think it was a happy ship ..... comments welcomed please !!






So what was happening at home over the last few months of this year ? Ricky and Mary I've mentioned, but he was keeping her well away from us for the time being. Dave was sort of courting  a  lovely French girl called Blandine for a few years now but nothing seemed to be coming of it, much to Mimsie's disgust. She always maintained that she could throw together a party in twenty four hours but a wedding would take a week, mostly for the cake. Sadly, not to be in these two cases.
Sandra and I had asked John and Irene's brother in law, David Murphy to design a kitchen for us for Nithsdale Road. It was the kitchen Sandra had always wanted ! And it worked so well it was still in place eighteen years later when we sold the house. Dave did the fitting for us and I think George Waddell did the plumbing  and an old friend Jim McCormack did the electrics. But over the Christmas and New Year period we didn't have a kitchen, we had a building site ! 
Our kitchen in Minard .




That's roughly what happened in 1989, so stay tuned for what happened next year....


















































1 comment:

  1. I wish I could say that it all comes flooding back to me...but it doesn't ! Memories come when they want to ! I'v just realised that this was the time, just after our holiday, that Lucy managed to dump a particularly unsuitable admirer. Young Donald Spence was George's nephew. He made a living by scrounging rubbish and selling it off as a collectable or ,if he could get away with it, an antique. I've never felt easy in the company of these people, too many memories of Fagin in "Oliver Twist" probably. But it seemed to be a fashionable occupation at the time because of "Only Fools and Horses". And the Spences regarded that as a code of conduct ! "What, pay taxes ? Are you mad ?" Father Donald was a real hail fellow well met character, an actor and entrepreneur ! He could lay on Highland Charm with a trowel ! On meeting people, if the sordid business of earning a crust came up, he would let slip that he had a city centre emporium run by his sons to allow him time at the fishing and shooting of course. The city centre emporium was a glorified stall in the Barras with electricity stolen from the adjoining chapel ! That I could cope with , it was the inherited character flaws I couldn't. Like his father, young Donald was jealous, controlling and grasping, but with a thin veneer of charm ! Sandra and I felt really guilty about laying down the law on this relationship, but Sandra has a talent for seeing through bullshit. In all the years I've known her she's never once been wrong about someone. We could see that Lucy was heading for a life of misery if she went any further with that family. As it turned out, Daddy Donald, was embroiled in a long lasting court case over right of access to an adjoining property he owned in the Highlands. It was actually a roofless derelict cottage on the shores of Loch Ness and a couple of English retirees had bought and restored the cottage next to his. Whether he was peeved that they'd made such a good job of it and shown him up or whether it was just because he couldn't stand having neighbours I'll never know. Over the years he did every spiteful trick to discourage these people the last one being refusing them right of access which eventually got dragged through the courts as far as Edinburgh High Court. Old Donald didn't have a bean to his name so I don't feel too sorry for the legal trade when they never got paid their huge fees at the end, they shouldn't have been taken in by him. Eventually, of course, the case went against him and he was liable for huge costs. So in a fit of pique, he took the side door out with a length of rope, and left his family to deal with the consequences !

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